The small girl was so completely engrossed in kicking at the pea gravel beneath her that she didn't hear Sam return. Clearing her throat, Sam held out an oversized vanilla cone. "Here, Cassandra. Now this – this is an ice cream cone."
The young girl eyed the frozen swirls with open distrust.
Sam couldn't blame her. Cassandra's first experience off-base had been certain death in a silo. During her next experience, Jack had given the young girl a dog that she couldn't keep since the Pentagon refused to allow her to live off-base at the moment. Sam was determined to make sure Cassandra's third time out was a good one.
"It's okay, Cassandra. Really." Sam sat down on the bench next to her, compared the two cones again, and offered her the slightly smaller cone. "You'll like it, I promise."
Cassandra waited a few moments, and then hesitantly accepted the cone. Her eyes darted between Sam's face and the dripping cone that Sam still held.
Sam grinned and leaned over her knees to allow the melting custard to drip on the gravel. "There really is a fine art to eating ice cream cones," she said, swirling her tongue around the tip of the large vanilla cone. "You can pretend it's the long arm of a tiny barred spiral galaxy."
Cassandra didn't look convinced.
Sam flicked her tongue at the melted cream that had dripped onto the sugar cone. "Or maybe the tip of a quickly melting glacier."
Cassandra continued to hold the cone out in front of her, the drips becoming small rivulets.
Swirling her cone around and pushing her tongue hard into the center of the cone's smoothness, Sam pulled away with a mouthful of frozen custard and an ice cream mustache. "Or you can pretend your tongue is a snow plow."
Cassandra looked confused.
Sam licked the ice cream from her upper lip. "Oh. Right. Well, you'll learn about those soon enough." Lifting the cone up, she ran the tip of her tongue from the cone up to the creamy pointed tip. "Or see - you can make your own ski jump." Focusing on the tip of her nose, Sam tried to reach her tongue up to lick a dot of ice cream from it and failed.
"Or you can pretend it's just an ice cream cone," Cassandra finally pronounced, taking a huge bite off the top and smiling as the custard smeared all over her chin.