“Now, sweetheart, remember her name is Aria and her family is new to town. Her mom asked me if you could show her around. Be nice to her, apparently she’s incredibly shy like you.” My mom has always thought I was just shy.
“But I’m not shy” I reply.
“Oh hush now dear, of course you are.” It makes sense that she would think that. It’s the excuse she told people when they noticed how strange I was. I wonder when she started telling herself the same excuse.
So here I am, waiting for some girl my mom thought would be good for me. I looked up her name on the Internet before coming here. Aria - it means the accompanying song for a solo voice. It’s funny that it means that. I always thought Aria was an elf name or a name reserved for girls that lived in the middle ages. But now that I think about it a little more, it’s starting to grow on me. Her name isn’t a song that is sung. Her namemeanssong, itissong. I guess that’s a little cool.
Names have always been an interesting topic to me. I used to spend hours just thinking about names I would give to the characters in my mind. Names in real life are arbitrary, they’re only as important as a group of sounds made by the mouth to identify someone. But names in stories are a completely different thing entirely. They imply things in a multitude of dissimilar levels that are so incredibly hard to understand. What if Tom Riddle never changed his name to Voldemort? What if he changed it to Brad? How would that change the story? What if Aria’s name wasn’t Aria, but something else? How would that change her?
She’ll be wearing a blue sweater with black jeans and she’ll have a blue handbag. We’re supposed to meet at a café. The same café I’m in right now, chai latte in hand, waiting for her. I see her and formulate my first impression. She has a timid walk, and shies away from people in her way. But timid is the wrong word. Timid implies something negative. Her walk has a unique grace. She isn’t part of the shoppers in a mall. She doesn’t walk with boundless courage, nor does she dart away. She walks through them, like an unseen ghost haunting the crowd. It was kind of creepy.
“Hey.” Her voice is like my Aunt Mary Belle’s whisper. The kind that was intended to be silent and discreet but never worked. She could only lower the volume to standard normal person talking volume. Except this seemed to be Aria’s maximum volume. “Are you Remy?”
“Yes that’s me. You must be Aria.” I stoop up to shake her hand and gestured for her to sit down. Her hands felt like ice whose surface had gone soft. “Would you like something to drink?” She smiled for the first time. No teeth and she looked down right away.
“No thanks, but maybe later.” I can already tell what type she is.
There are four different types of people in the world, generally speaking. They are quadrants in a circle. On the top left of the quadrant lie people who are “cool blue.” They are quiet, think a lot and need a lot of information to make decisions. That’s me. People on the top right quadrant are “fiery red.” They are loud, have clear goals and will do whatever it takes to accomplish them. Their personalities could sometimes be misconstrued as rude or mean. On the bottom right quadrant is “sunshine yellow.” They are the loudest, the social butterflies who want the attention and to be part of everything. Enough said. And on the bottom left quadrant is Aria, the “peaceful green.” They are quiet, amiable and above all else, value kindness, love and respect. They are also sometimes known as hippies.
“How are you?” she asks.
“I’m alright. How about you?”
“Same.” She looks down at her hands. “We’ve almost finished packing.”
“Oh, that’s good. That’s probably the hardest part.”
“Yeah…” She looks up again. “Can I ask you a question?” There’s a slight change in the tone of her voice, the way her shoulders widen and her back straightens. Her facial features minutely adjusted and her eyes look at me. Really look at me. At my eyes. Her eyes are very brown. She’s really looking for an answer.
“Do you know why we’re here?” She almost blurts out. Her eyes widen, just barely. Barely enough for me to notice and her eyes dive down.
“Apparently our moms were friends in high school. Your mom asked mine if I could show you around. Because you’re new.” Color touches her pale cheeks. Not a blush, just blood rushing up to her face. Embarrassment mixed with exasperation. It made her eyes stand out.
“Sorry about that.” She smiles the same smile she smiled before. I figure out that it’s her embarrassed smile. “My mom thinks it’s really hard to make friends in a new place. She’s so worried, always asking people for these weird favors to show me around.”
“Is it?” I ask.
“Is it what?”
“Hard to make friends? In a new place?” The question caught her off guard.
“I guess it depends.”
“Lots of things. The new place you’re in, the type of people in it, the type of person you are, how you’re introduced, where you interact.” There’s silence for a while. I take a sip of my chai latte. It’s getting a little cold I should finish it soon. Aria looks around the mall. “So what’s there to see around here?”
“Depends, have you been anywhere here yet?”
“No not at all.”
“Then let’s just walk around the city.”
“That sounds like a good idea.”