The Philadelphia Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium appeared as it always had, a large building who's walls were decorated with pictures of happily swimming sea creatures and zoo animals alongside plaques displaying facts in bright colors. Oh, yeah and one must not forget the sheer number of happy families all over. Parents with their children, groups of friends, and school groups. Dozens upon dozens of happy people.
Several years ago, that had been them. The Fitz family. Mom, Dad, and daughter. Happily standing in line to go in amongst the other happy people, blending in perfectly.
It wasn't that they didn't appear like that today. In fact, they blended right in as they always had. No one looking in would be able to see that the Mom had left several years ago, leaving behind a broken family. None would not suspect that the little girl had cried herself to sleep for ages, or that the Dad had suffered nightmare after nightmare.
But Aria and Ezra were aware of all of these facts, of course. As they stood in line, each holding one of Olivia's little hands, they tried their hardest not to look in each other's eyes, to acknowledge the awkwardness between them. Olivia chattered enough for both of them, rambling on and on about the fish and the whales and God knew what else she was about to see. They gave her the occasional smiles and nods, along with the "That sounds like fun" leaving the little girl, not suspecting the thick discomfort permeating the air between her parents.
Finally, making it to the front, the little family made their way inside. Olivia's eyes doubled in size when she spotted one of the very many giant tanks.
"Daddy! Mommy! look!" She exclaimed. "The fish tanks are so big!"
"They are aren't they?" Ezra asked. "And you know, this place has a zoo too right?"
They could've easily gone to the Aquarium in Rosewood, but Philadelphia's Point Defiance Zoo, had both an Aquarium and Zoo. Ezra had decided that it would be a better place to go.
"Really?" Olivia asked.
"Yes sweetie, really." Aria smiled.
Come on!"Olivia tugged at both their hands. "Let's go!
Both Aria and Ezra let out a soft laugh.
"Daddy!Mommy! Come look at the sharks!"
They'd already spent the last couple hours looking at all the different sea creatures. Fish, Jellyfish, squid, octopus, and Olivia's favorite, the petting tank.
"I actually have to go to the bathroom. Daddy will go see them with you."
"I'll be back."
Ezra followed his daughter. He felt Olivia's hand squeeze his as one of the shark's swam closer to the tank.
"Daddy lets go" Olivia said softly.
"Why Livs?" Ezra asked.
"Hey, it's ok. They can't come out."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm very sure."
"Will you hold me?" She asked.
Ezra picked her up gently, resting her on his hip. As he walked closer to the tank, he could still feel Olivia's tight grip on his neck.
"We don't have to see the sharks if you don't want to." Ezra whispered. "We can come back later. Do you want to do that?"
"Yes Daddy." She whispered.