“A lesson in light.”
“The park looks different these days,” I stare up at where the bush of one tree meets the next, creating a thick sky of lime green, bright yellow and specks of light brown.
“It always does in spring,” Hannah keeps her eyes on her camera, gently turning different knobs, “It has a rebirth each year, emerging more and more different than the last.”
I smile at the idea, “Although the snow in winter is beautiful, too.”
We stroll through the park for almost two hours. I watch as Hannah gets on one knee, lies on the small of her back, and gets mud on her jeans all for the perfect shot. When I do the exact same thing, my versions of the images are blurred or distorted, never quite as spectacular as hers.
I beat the dust off my knees, but it doesn’t budge, “I give up.”
“No,” she slides the camera out of my clammy hands, “All it takes is practice.”
“Enough practice for today,” I hook my arm in hers, leading her to the bakery across the road.
“Him, him, him,” I mumble in the direction of the man clad in Versace.
Hannah studies him carefully, “Forty; married with three kids; wears designer suits to substitute his inadequacy to satisfy his wife; has an inexplicable obsession with Star Trek despite being an avid pessimist towards the universe,” she raises her dark brown eyebrows, “How’d I do?”
I nod, “I’d agree with your portfolio.”
She stares in the direction of a girl pushing a pram with a baby that clearly wasn’t hers, “Her?”
I wipe the croissant crumbs from my bottom lip, “Twenty-one; nanny; moved to the city to pursue a singing career, but is now trapped in her au-pairing job because she’s in love with her boss.”
“Mother or father?”
I re-analyse, “Father,” I say finally.
“Damn,” Hannah grins, “I was so hoping for an interesting twist.”
I nudge her, “How dare you insult my narrative?”
The park is busier now. More people share our idea of enjoying their lunchtime in the park while the day is relatively warm. But the clouds are already thickening. I wonder if Alec’s father is meditating.
I sit with my legs crossed, feet tucked underneath the opposite knee, accidently grazing Hannah’s thigh whenever I move. Her long, giraffe-like legs are stretched out in front of her.
We sit in silence for a few minutes, listening to the leaves rustle in the light breeze wafting through the afternoon. The wind carries the bubbled laughter of kids playing nearby. A few dogs bark. Joggers trot passed us, their strained breathing coursing through their heavy limbs. My eyes flit across Hannah’s face as she stares ahead. Her skin, the colour of caramel, is dotted with a few dark freckles on the bridge of her ski-sloped nose. Her lips, smooth and glossy from constant application of her strawberry lip balm clings onto the crumbed remains of her croissant. Her olive-green eyes flutter across the park. She drinks in as much colour as she can, already spotting the next image she would capture. The tips of her wavy hazel locks graze her jaw she chews on her sandwich.
Hannah senses me staring and peers in my direction. I look away. Now she thinks I had been staring which I had, but I don’t want her to think so. I frown into my croissant instead. When I finally gather the courage to look up at her again, she’s looked away.
I glance up at the sky above, “It will probably start raining soon.”
“Probably,” she agrees.
I tap my index finger against my knee, “Did you know that Alec’s father believes he summons the rain as King of the Heavens.”
The corner of her mouth twitches into a small side smile, “Alec’s parents believe a lot of things,” she frowns, “although they’re never completely wrong.
People were starting to disperse. The dark sky was scaring them away. Mothers gathered their children and dogs, the joggers started sprinting and the homeless population headed towards their respective bridges and benches.
“We should probably start heading back too,” Hannah says. I nod, but neither of us move. Then the large raindrops started falling.
“That was terrible,” I shiver.
“That was amazing,” Hannah pulls her camera bag out from under her sweater.
I close the bedroom door behind her. We’re both panting from running through the city. My place is closer to the park, so we decided to wait out the storm here. Looking at the way it was beating down against my windows, it seemed we would be stuck in here for a while.
“Do you live with your parents?” Hannah asks, looking at the photos stuck to the wall.
“No, with friends of the family,” I explain, “My parents didn’t want me living in the dorms at school just in case I picked up a meth habit.”
“As one does,” she smiles.
I shrug, “It’s nice though. It’s a townhouse. They have a garden with an emotional Jack Russel named Russel.”
I smile, “The couple is at work throughout the day, so they don’t really bother me.”
She looks around, “It’s nice.”
I point at the only other door in the room, “The bathroom is through there,” I hand her a pair of clean sweatpants from my closet with a black t-shirt folded on top, “You can change in there and I’ll pop our wet clothes in the dryer downstairs.”
When we were warmly dressed and dry, the rain was still furiously streaming from the sky. I came back upstairs to find Hannah planted on the floor in front of my bookcase.
“So, you clearly don’t like a specific type of book,” she reads through the titles, “Sherlock Holmes, Shantaram, Pride and Prejudice, The Sky is Everywhere.”
“Anything I can read,” I say.
She peers at me over her shoulder, “Will I be allowed to read something you write?”
“Everything is up on my blog,” I say, but she shakes her head.
“No. Everything you feel safe about is on your blog. What about the rest you hide?”
I gulp, “Well if I hide it from the world, there must be a good reason.”
“A reason, I’m sure,” she concedes, “not necessarily a good one.”
I stare at her until my eyes burn, but neither of us look away. My head starts spinning and a sudden feeling of nausea overcomes me. Her lips part, but before she can say anything, a deafening clap of thunder cracks through the sky. We jump.
“Lovely spring weather we’re having,” she stares out at the blackening sky.
“Alec’s father must be really upset,” I joke.
“I might have to sleep here tonight,” Hannah’s green eyes peek at me through her long hazel lashes. I wonder if it is possible for my stomach to plummet to the earth’s core.
“Do you want to watch a movie?” I ask suddenly, just to avoid answering her.
“What do you have?”
We decide on The Matrix, despite the fact that we have both seen it in a combined number of seventeen times. We calculated. Although neither of us could confidently say we completely understood what happened throughout the trilogy.
We turn off the lights, sitting on my bed amidst the darkness of the storm, curled up under a blanket with my laptop at the foot of the bed. Hannah shuffles down, resting her head in the nook of my neck. My body tenses up. Her earlobe is cold against my skin. Her pinkie finger grazes my arm and I can’t tell if it is an accident or not. Although it shouldn’t matter, I tell myself.
“Your feet are icy,” she says, just as the girl with the rabbit tattoo knocks on Neo’s door.
Without thinking, I tuck my toes underneath her calf.
An hour into the movie, Neo is finding his identity as the One, and Hannah and I are asleep.