Some of them organized a hike on a weekend. I heard you were going. I asked the girl I sat behind if I could come along as well. She didn’t know my name. She said all right.
I walked in the back for most of the hike, watching you as we meandered through the woods, around all of our old haunts. I watched to see if you recognized anything, if you stopped to pause by a tree or a rock. I heard someone say we were halfway done, and I mustered all of the courage within me.
Can I talk to you? I asked you, ignoring them all.
Sure, you said.
We dropped to walk behind all of the others. You watched them laughing in front of us, and smiled.
What did you want? You turned your radiant smile upon me. The gap in between your teeth was miraculously gone.
I haven’t seen you for a long time, I told you.
I haven’t been here in a long time, you said, like I didn’t know.
We walked in silence for a while, and I looked up to the sky, where the sun was shining beyond the leaves. The violins played.
Well, if you don’t have a question, you started, Why don’t I ask you one?
I shrugged, waiting for you to ask if you could kiss me again. I would have said yes.
What’s your name?
I looked up at you. Without your glasses to hide behind, I could see your eyes. You looked sincere, but your crooked smile convinced me otherwise. I knew you were teasing me.
Lilian, I reminded you.
We walked on. I think we talked, but I can only remember the violins.
The hike descended into the ravine, where we used to play as children. I waited for you to drop the joke, for you to stop and point out somewhere where we played a game, or where we used to swim. You didn’t, so I kept waiting.
You were called away by some of them. I didn’t know their names, but you did. You went ahead, and I told you it was all right, like you had asked me.
I watched you walk with them until you were out of sight, around a bend in the dried-up creek. I watched the distant rocks before me, noting that even though they looked old, they were younger than they had been when we were children.
Maybe when you age, everything just seems younger to you.
I was trying to think. I was sure it was you. You seemed so different, but I was sure it was you.
You looked different, and you sounded different, and you had no glasses. You had the same name as the boy who bought me ice cream years before, but my assurance was fading, along with the violins.
I began to wonder if I wanted them to stay, their eerie, haunting sound filling my being like they used to.