She had gloriously red hair. As she walked to the Red Hair Registration Office, people would stop on the sidewalk, gape, say, “My, what luminous red hair you have!” Due to watching her red hair, motorists would unknowingly sit through stoplights, turn one block later than they were supposed to, or head in wonder erroneously out of town.

She did not acknowledge the adoration. She smiled that boxcutter smile of someone who knows she is under appreciative scrutiny.

It was only four blocks to the Office. She lived in an apartment complex where, since it was so close to the Registration site, every apartment was rented by red-haired people—sometimes with two or three or four sharing one unit. At times, red-haired people from elsewhere would board with a resident for a day or two, long enough to complete whatever their current business was with the Red Hair Registration Office and move back to the anonymous country of their normal work-a-day existence.

Parking in the city was at a premium, and most hotels were located more towards the suburbs, so driving in to the Registration was truly impractical. Residents were happy to oblige like-haired individuals.

She clacked along in her walking heels, formalized in an ivory dress. The space around her was quieter than the space not quite so near. Even children as she drew close stopped pestering their parents, slowed, let juggled balls drop, looked up with mouths of humming roundness.

The Red Hair Registration Office sat between the Registry of Perfect B-Flats and the Office for the Registration of the Polydactyl. The three buildings stood pretentiously separated, but huddled together, almost conspiratorially. Cleaner than most buildings, with more high windows, the sidewalks in front of them appeared more immune to trash than most other sidewalks in the city.

When she finally reached the Office, she faced the inset security window to let the guard confirm her red hair. She had been there often before; he might have recognized her. Anyone who could do so on the street, without themselves being noticed as spying, stopped to watch the ceremony. It took but a second or two, and then the main entry popped open and she slipped with a last flash of her hair around the door edge.

Those who could spare the half-hour or so that she would be inside might wait so as to watch again as she left: she and her mercurial hair beginning the opulent parade back to her apartment, the Registration building now less for having allowed her to exit. What would the enchanted onlookers give to know what goes on there!