playing hooky

by spin

In my mind we used to skip school together. We were just kids then, lost in our own self-assurances, confident that we had the world figured out. And maybe we did.

You were always beautiful, and the years haven’t changed that, save for the wrinkles in the corners of your eyes. Wild, carefree, and curious, you led the way, telling me constantly how you’d follow me anywhere. We’d kick our legs up and lean against the brick wall that surrounded the field next to the school – hiding in plain sight you called it. “They won’t see us if they think we belong here.” The sun would climb higher and we’d run to the nearby trees for shade; large, tangled trunks, twisted from the abuse of the hurricanes that passed through each year.

Eventually we’d find a spot to sit, and you would daydream aloud about our futures together. Houses, luxury cars, children; it all seemed so tangible, so real that my mind swirled with the probability of it all. I would lay my head in your lap as you talked, and felt your fingers drifting through my hair, coaxing me into your reality, and off to sleep.

As my eyes closed I became fully immersed in the picturesque world you created; living the life you imagined for us both. We were artists. You painted in the room we set aside for you, and I could overhear you humming as you danced around your canvas. In the kitchen the children ate the snacks you had prepared earlier, while I paced the house, calculating exposures.

The house was small, but spacious. We didn’t have much; we didn’t need much. It was old, but you liked that. “It feels like a home.” There were imperfections. I would point them out, and you would cherish them. When I explained the science behind the windows being thicker at the bottom you would smile, but you just liked how it distorted the world outside.

The floors creaked when you snuck up on me, but I always pretended like I didn’t hear. And I would hide messages on crumpled paper behind the legs of chairs, so you could find them while you were cleaning up. These were our games – childish in nature, loving in actuality.

The children were home schooled. We took turns on lessons. You were free, artistic, loving and peaceful, where I was defiant, logical, strict and uncompromising. They loved you and respected me, and they were brilliant – smarter than the two of us combined.

I woke up to you humming. It wasn’t so much a song as a melody – different each time, but with the same motif. You would swear that you didn’t understand the music the way I did, but I’ve always known otherwise. Your fingers would be tangled in my hair, and you’d say things like, “welcome back,” or “good morning” – a gentle reminder that you would never leave my side, no matter how far my adventures might take me. We’d stay out well past our curfews, challenging the very idea of structure and conformity. And as the sun began to set I realized that I loved you then, as I do now.

But it’s all just a dream. Some far away, non-existent place, where we are lost in a sea of trees filled with the sound of cicadas. The rhythmic reminder that I dozed off again, with thoughts of you on my delicate mind.