By Lion Prince
The next time we meet, she's twenty-two, and I'm thirty-two.
She's strumming her ukulele and singing a song I loved the first time I heard it.
She nods at me as I sit down on the bench.
I close my eyes, humming the tune because I can't recall the lyrics.
It's nice, listening to it again.
I clap once she's done, and she laughs, taking an exaggerated bow.
"It's been a while," she says.
"Yes, it has."
She's sitting down next to me now and zipping up her ukulele bag,
and I'm not sure how to start.
Where to start.
"So," she says.
"Why are you here?" she asks.
There's a beat of silence before I respond, quirking my eyebrow at her.
"I don't remember you being so direct," I say,
not as a retort.
I say this because really -
it amazes me how different we are from each other.
"Life happens," she says, shrugging.
When I don't reply, she turns to look at me.
"So, why are you here?" she repeats, softer this time.
I pat the back of her hand.
"Just in the mood," I say.
"Hmmm," is the only reply she gives.
She looks away and stares at something else.
We sit like that, in a contemplative kind of stillness, until she perks up and asks,
"Are you this quiet with your friends, too?"
I look at her, and she isn't teasing.
"Well, yeah, I guess."
I look at her again, and she's waiting,
expecting me to elaborate.
Softly, I add, "I don't really know what to say around them."
"Because growing up is hard," I say, smiling.
"I doubt your friends have it all figured out, either," she says, shaking her head.
"Well, I suppose that's true too."
She narrows her eyes and sighs.
"You're way too mellow," she says.