**To start from the beginning of the story, click here.**
“So, Lily, how’s school going?” my uncle, Evan, asked me with a whiskery smile that he’d had forever it seemed.
“Okay, I guess. I’m still trying to decide what to major in, and my friends and I are still trying to find a place to live next year,” I replied rolling my eyes and shaking my head.
He made some noncommittal remark. His attention turning back to my parents they started to discuss recent events. I sat there for a while listening to them hash over events. They all had to talk about everyone’s health, their parents health, their friends health. The list of people went on and on. The reminiscing, like eulogies for the past that was long gone, so long ago that they had to remind each other of what had happened. Finally I stood up abruptly and walked toward the back door. Opening it I walked out into the backyard. Everyone looked up at me, but I kept walking. My mom asked where I was going, but without answering I shut the door. The green yard sloped down to a stream that ran lazily between the backyards of the houses on either side. Walking down towards it I kicked off my sandals and waded in up to my knees. The chill of the water felt great in the heat of the afternoon. I leaned over and splashed some water up with my hand.
Feeling like someone was watching me I looked over at the houses across the stream. A guy about my age was standing in the backyard of one of the houses looking at me. I tilted my head against the sun and my shyness and smiled tentatively at him. He smiled back at me just as someone yelled, “Hey Garret, are you coming.” Then he turned and walked in the house.
I smiled to myself. Swinging one foot I kicked at the water. Then I crouched down in the water until it was up around my neck. I leaned back and floated on the water. My light short dress, once dry and swirling in the light Colorado breeze clung to me like a like a shroud. Standing I turned to look at the house my long hair streaming with the water down my back. My cousin, Kally stood in the shadow of the porch. I walked toward the bank and walked up into the yard towards her. We approached each other warily like strange dogs, testing reactions that hung as tangible in the air as a scent. Unsmiling we stopped barely a foot apart.
As one we reached for each other in an embrace that covered the miles and the years and brought us up to the present. Smiling we looked at each other.
“I was so worried that something would have changed,” I said to her with a smile as wide as the sky and as bright as the sun.
“Me too,” Kally answered with a matching smile. We hugged again and linking arms we walked up to the house.
I realized that Kally and I could live as far apart as the earth and the moon and it wouldn’t change a thing. We’re friends and that’s how it’s always going to be. Neither time nor distance will separate us.