Facing a blue screen

When she saw him again it was a Monday afternoon, eighteen years later. Time had lengthened him out, stretched him at the edges, had filled his once lean cheeks and softened his sharp jawline.  Time had put that grave stamp of age on his face.

“I’m getting old,” he said. He laughed, then she laughed too. His laugh had not aged, she thought. She did not say it, though. She was content to feel it, to remember the boy, seventeen, with the chiseled cheeks, the white smile, the lean athletic build, playfully teasing the girl, fifteen, tall, unsure, expectant, awkward. The girl whose skin burned hot when he looked at her, whose being dissolved at his lightest touch. She remembered the girl whose world froze, then exploded into a thrilling chaos of hot and cold, infinity and a millisecond, he and she, when he had leaned in slowly, the woody perfume of his skin filling her senses, as he touched his lips to hers.

“I’m old,” he said again. She wondered what brought him to say it. Was it that he could not see her but she could see him? She wished her camera would work. She had aged too.

“You probably can’t see it because of the light here…” he looked up at the ceiling, “…Skype is not good enough for that. But I have grey hair, I have grey hair in my beard.” He laughed again, and she did too, not with him, but at herself. She had seen a couple grey hairs on herself, they were not on her head.

She looked back at him in the small window on the blue screen. She could not see the grey hairs. It did not matter, she was certain that it made no difference. Eighteen years and grey hairs made no difference. The walls of Time had shrunk, and she was back in that moment when her family had grounded her and his family had sent him away.

Z.K. Royer