A woman in a ruffled dress and feathered headdress pilots the front half of a chinese dragon style paper mache puppet of a purple plesiosaur emblazoned with cryptic patterns along its back. She stares quizzically at Pavel and his costume as he reaches up to play with her puppet as well as another of similar make that is blue.
The day seems to pass quickly. Pavel peers over a counter into a bin of fish on ice. He reaches for a display of pink starfish and blue scallop shell sugar cookies that are labeled as costing two osso, the symbol for which is a circle with a bone shaped slash running through it. Pavel holds up an impressively large pufferfish plushie, blue and stitched at the face to appear like it’s holding its breath. It has green spines and various aquatic plushie brethren- a puffin, a seal, and a narwhal, smile up from the shelf behind it.
At the Salabay Radio Kid’s Costume Contest, Pavel stands front and center, spreading his arms to fully display the patterns and details of his costume. The line of kids beside him all have their own costumes. Most prominently featured are a dolphin hat, an octopus hat with arms sewn onto a dress, a nautilus hat with a swirled pattern dress, and a plain looking costume with an umbrella outfitted with jellyfish tendrils. They stare openly at Pavel, and the announcer (dressed in a feathered hat, white gloves, and a lace lined skirt) looks down at him in shock as she presents him- but the skull headdress just grins out over the audience.
Upon winning, he runs to his mother to hand her the prize money- an impressively stuffed green bag of ossos. Vanna accepts it, both happy and surprised to see him with the first place ribbon pinned to his chest. As he wraps his arms around her for a hug, however, she notices other audience members watching. Mothers it seems, with their own children tucked close under their arms, as though herding away from Pavel. They mutter between themselves and cast concerned looks in the Morena’s direction. Vanna tightens her hold around Pavel, who doesn’t notice at all, and meets their stares with a challenge, a warning, a resignation, and a fierce love, all at once.