Image by Elliot Yu
Her name wasn’t Maeve, but that’s what we’ll call her.
When we left it was blue. The sun was falling behind the surrounding houses, and the cloudy sky was streaked with twists of color. Our shadows stretched across coarse sand, the setting sun making them impossibly long. Every lean and twist on the swing set distorted their shapes. Hers was softer than mine. Clicking metal chains pinched my fingertips, and the creak of the ancient swing set made me nervous. Lines of frustration appeared in the sand underneath me. Valleys and canyons formed from where the soles of my shoes dragged against the ground.
She was impossibly impossible. One of those absurd people that you always hear about in stories about a friend of a friend. The kind that always has something funny to say, or some plan to pitch. It was easy to love her.
Our shadows were pulled farther and farther apart as she flew through the air. I think that she was sad too. Perhaps that was why she was being so generous with her words. Her shadow jumped with every exaggerated exclamation. It got dark too quickly.
When I picked up our bags, I cut myself on the metal buckle of her backpack. She always said she would fix it but never did. I didn’t notice the wind until that moment, but it suddenly seemed impossible to ignore. The wind howled outside, causing doorways to creak and trees to bend. There was static in the air and I could taste ash. It seemed that in the time we had spent talking, a storm had quickly settled over the horizon. The warm glow of the sunset faded as the sky was streaked with twilight blue. The color touched everything that the light had. It made the sand look gray and the dirt look cold. It painted the edges of my vision and soaked into our skin. It stained our fingertips and left streaks on the trees where we touched them. Every inhale and exhale was pigmented. Her hair was blue and the whites of her eyes were blue, her words were blue.
It was blue and it was beautiful, but it wasn’t sad. Things aren’t always sad when they’re blue. It seems strange to think that there might be a day in the future when I’m sitting on a swing set, and I will only have a fleeting thought of her. Even now there are things that I have forgotten. I don’t remember the price of our dinner, or the streets we took back to her house. If it were not for pictures and the notes scribbled on the margins of class assignments, what more could I forget.
My cut has healed. My skin has forgotten, but deep in my bones, I remember the length of her hair. The number of rooms in her home. I remember the old groaning swing set, and I know that in my mind, even if she is distant, she will always be weightless.