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She skipped along the sidewalk as four-year-olds do, still holding her grandfather’s hand. When Aria landed with both feet together as a gymnast might stick with a landing, she looked down and tilted her head.
“Grandpa, why do they paint the sidewalks with funny letters and numbers and lines?” Aria asked.
“Hmm. I don’t know. Maybe it’s like Hansel and Gretel. You remember that story, don’t you?”
“They left bread crumbs wherever they went, didn’t they?”
“That’s right,” Grandpa said. “But with these paint marks, the people who made them are just leaving a different kind of bread crumbs. These won’t be eaten by anything.”
“So then it’s not like Hansel and Gretel at all. It reads RCP 6 and a quote mark. What’s that mean?”
“The quote mark means inches, so it’s probably a six-inch pipe of some sort. That’s where they’re going to bury the pipe or where it’s already buried in the ground under the sidewalk.”
“Are these kids or grownups doing the painting?”
“Oh, definitely grownups. Have you ever seen those people in bright green or bright orange vests with white construction hats on?”
“Yeah,” Aria said.
“They are friends of those people. Some of them may even paint the lines themselves.”
“Sounds like a fun job, painting stuff on sidewalks. Think they’d paint a hopscotch board on our sidewalk at home?”
“I don’t see why not. Next time they’re around, ask them. I doubt they’d say no.”
“Really, Grandpa. Think they’d do that for me?”
Grandpa crouched down and was eye to eye with his granddaughter.
“Aria, next time they come near the house, all you have to do is smile and ask nicely. There’s not a sidewalk painter in the world that would turn you down. If I did it, they’d say no because I’m an old grandpa, but for little girls like you, always.”
“Thanks, Grandpa. You’re the best.”