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She Knew Me
Her eyes, cornflower blue, twinkle back at me as we run, hand in hand through the sun dappled forest, bright with the greens of summer.
Her legs, almost as brown as mine, complete with no shoes, race to keep up with my long strides.
Her hair, platinum blonde to my brown, shines in the mid-afternoon sun.
Her smile, complete with that one small gap between her front teeth that only makes the others look straighter.
When I say it’s not fair that she is beating me in the race to that gnarled old tree with the rotting hole in the middle, she only laughs and says
“It’s just a game.”
Hana, who teaches me the ways of the woods. Who shows me where to find the treasured board with the nails rusting in between, and how to build our forts. Who shows me how to ride a bike, tie my shoes, and not be afraid of the sienna brown deer who curiously run by our wide eyes.
Hana, who I never fight with, who is my only friend besides the tall, majestic trees that are my neighbors in the forest, especially after I hit the boy with the mean smile in class one day.
Hana, who never has any other friends but me, grabs my hand and we race off between the familiar grove of trees that are our imaginary home in the middle of nowhere.
“Wouldn’t you like to just live like this forever? No going home after play-dates, no parents, only trees and blue sky. “
I’m not convinced.
“Wouldn’t someone find us eventually? No one can hide forever. People will think we’re weird with our bare feet and brown skin, won’t they?”
Hana, who makes up our own language and writing that almost resembles English in some way or another. Who teaches me how to be impractical, silly, imagine, and not wait for the whole world to see you make mistakes.
“No one will ever find us here. We can live out here forever.”
Hana, who holds my hand on the first day of first, second, third, fourth, and fifth grade. She tells me it’s all right, that we are the best ones in the world, that no one can hold a candle to us.
“Couldn’t you just touch the sky with your hands, grab it and hold it close?”
Hana, who hugs me close by the beige moving truck, full of soon-to-be forgotten memories, and tells me she’ll keep in touch - in our old language, that has been forgotten with age.
She never does.
Now I look at the woods, alone, in a new house with unfamiliar doors and beige walls, waiting for Hana to appear, barefoot with her crooked smile.
No one ever comes.