My own response to my PhotoFlash from this morning, behind a “more” tag to save your reading list. This is solely a work of fiction. It is also kind of super sappy, which is apparently my mood today. All typos are mine, as this was quickly written!
Facing the World Together
At five Jill is shy, one girl in a room of twenty-five strangers. They huddle in small groups and singletons, drifting uncertainly as the teachers tempt them with Legos and other toys, or the bright sharp points of new crayons and fresh coloring sheets. She hesitates, uncertain, then takes the three quick steps to the table and grabs a red crayon. The coloring sheet has a tulip on it, and she focuses intently on coloring inside the lines, determined to show what a big girl Jill is on this first day of her new school.
“Can I have the red?”
The little girl next to her has hair more orange than the crayon in Jill’s hand. She holds out a green crayon in offering and Jill looks down at the paper, not quite red enough, and the crayon that is the perfect color for the stem of the tulip. Jill carefully holds out her own red crayon, and the girls swap.
“I’m Delilah,” the other girl says quietly. “I have a brother.”
Jill smiles, quick and bright. “So do I.” She looks at Delilah’s paper: another tulip, also red, with a green stem, and her smile grows wider. “I like your flower.”
Delilah bites her lip, but Jill can see the shy smile she has in return. “I like yours too.”
Jill relaxes and colors some more. She is no longer alone.
At ten they are tweens, in that awkward stage where some girls want to talk about middle school (coming so soon!) and pop stars and boys, and others want to climb trees and dig in the mud. Jill doesn’t know what to do when she wants to do both things, and her friends get angry because she can’t make up her mind.
She walks away from all of them and sits quietly out behind the school during recess, avoiding the arguments that little girls have. She doesn’t like how sharp their tongues have become, how mean they are to each other. She knows she should defend her friends, but what do you do when defending one means denying another?
Delilah comes to find her and sits next to her, quiet for a long time. She nudges Jill with her knee. “It’s okay,” she says. “I don’t mind if you want to talk about boys.”
“You don’t,” Jill says. “You don’t like Justin Beiber. You don’t care about lip gloss.”
“I know.” Delilah shrugs. “But you do, so I’ll listen. Then we’ll go play in the swamp. That’s what best friends do.”
Jill is afraid they are growing apart, but right then no one seems closer to her than Delilah. She hugs her, hard, and together they run, hand in hand, to go play on the swings.
At fifteen they have left childhood behind as they step into the shoes of young women. They navigate the halls of high school in separate places, but at night they come together via tip-tapping fingers texting madly to tell about their days.
Jill talks about boys and music and hoping for a solo in the upcoming chorus production. She says she is nervous about performing in front of everyone, but considering trying out for the spring play.
Delilah says that everyone calls her Dee and that they think she is the teacher’s pet because she is acing science without needing to study. She tells the story of how the boys refused to pick up the snake in her biology class, but Delilah carried it around for the entire forty minute session.
They talk over each other and around each other, giving advice and taking it, never missing a word. They are different now, but they are still friends, and they still care.
And when spring comes, they have the one thing they share. They have their team, their tournaments, the thing they have done together since they were in kindergarten and could barely throw the ball near the hoop. Delilah is taller, and plays guard. Jill is smaller, and plays point. They work together as if they can read minds, and together they are unstoppable.
Someday they will be eighteen, then twenty, then twenty-five and even older. They won’t think about that now, as they come into the spring they have together as friends. They have basketball and they will live in the Now.
This is all they need to face the world: each other.