Lilly

It’s the first time I’ve spoken to her in over a year. She holds my hand for a minute and talks about how strange it’s been, coming back. “I have German next and I’m worried I’ll mix it up with Turkish,” she tells me. Thinking about the moment now, I struggle to recall if she still has that mole on her cheek, like she kept one side of her face turned away for the entire conversation. But her smile is as broad and her eyes as bright as I remember them.

First days of school tend to highlight how we’ve all changed over the summer. But this year, for the most part, my classmates look the same; we’ve outgrown the years where we grew three inches in a single summer, or got our braces off to reveal unrecognizably toothy smiles. It’s my last year of seeing these people every weekday morning, but I don’t feel the comforting familiarity that I should. Only distance. Four years together and I am more remote than ever. ♦