con·ver·sa·tion

ˌkänvərˈsāSH(ə)n/

noun

  1. the informal exchange of ideas by spoken words.
  2. “the two men were deep in conversation

3. synonyms:

· discussion, talk, chat, gossip, tête-à-tête, heart-to-heart, exchange, dialogue

Chapter 1…

The sun decides to make its dramatic entrance. It streams and bursts out light on Kelsie and her childhood bed. Too much light. She covers her eyes. Why, why all the light?

She pads over to the bathroom, and she looks in the mirror, but quickly glances away; nothing to see here. She throws cold water on her face. It feels deliciously good, the cool water absorbing into the pores of her skin. Her skin flourishes of hot coffee with a few dashes of cream. Mother always said this. Kelsie doesn’t believe this. Skin is skin, and she is just black and that is all.

As she straightens her small room, she spends a full minute contemplating why she was chasing down an icecream truck in her dream. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, she reflects as she closed her blinds, shutting out the light. It was a peanut butter and jelly truck. She can still smell it, and she can still hear the clipped hum of the truck. Why did she dream that? She stopped eating those, long ago…she still feels a tense, throbbing pain like she had been running too hard. Her breathing, filled with morning phlegm, rags in her throat until she coughs violently. Tears are about to fill her eyes, but she shakes her head. And she picks up her Bible. And she talks to God. Slowly but surely, as she paces from her tiny bed to the rack that she made as her closet, she talks to God, then talks to herself, switching back and forth over and over like a pendulum until she feels like her day is a steady hum: consistent, predictable, and therefore, peaceful. Her stomach is no longer tense and now she can see clearly. She wraps her black hair in a loose ponytail and runs downstairs, two steps at a time.

She can already hear her little brother’s chatter even before entering the kitchen. He is watching cartoons on his computer. But he isn’t really; he is talking to his mother, who is buttering toast, washing the dishes, and feeding the dog. He talks louder and louder, about his plans and dreams that Kelsie can practically see flying above his head. Comedian. Comedian. Comedian. She glances up and sees the sun dancing in her brother’s eyes. But he doesn’t close his eyes from it. Strange kid.

As her mother places his breakfast in front of him, he scoops up the toast and crunches into it, the crumbs spewing from his mouth. Never missing a beat. Still dreaming. Still talking. Still dreaming-talking. Wouldn’t he ever stop? Kelsie continues to stare at him, until he glares and sticks his peanut-butter encrusted tongue at her. Kelsie’s heart leaps in her mouth and she edges away. She breathes a gust of wind and rolls her eyes, and that’s when Mother glances up from sweeping the floor.

Kelsie tenses and expects a reprimand, but instead Mother smiles at her. A real smile, not a ‘good morning’ smile. Or a ‘I just got out of bed so leave me alone’ kind of smile. Mother always does those real smiles. She asks Kelsie what she wants for breakfast. Kelsie just shakes her head and edges towards the door, the cold metallic knob barely grazing her fingers. Mom smiles a sad one now and states that she can at least eat a yogurt. Kelsie nods, and Mom disappears and reappears with a yogurt — and a package of peanut butter. For protein, she hears Mom say. Kelsie smiles her good morning smile and breezes out the door, hearing fragments of her brother’s dreams dancing in her head. She throws away the peanut butter on her way out.

She rides her bike. It is such a therapeutic feeling, that bike. Because of the steady whir of the wheels, the tires barely brushes the sidewalk and the street. Kelsie closes her eyes longer than a blink just so she can listen to the air whispering to her. The sun expresses its usual joy for the day, and as Kelsie heads deeper, to her destination, the hum grows louder. Of voices and of choices. The college campus spreads wide and big. Her heart quickens, but she shoves that thought away. She will not live on campus. She does not want to. Ever. She only glances at the stores and restaurants and apartments that tower over her. She will not look at them for long. She will take classes at the campus, she will listen to the sounds of the campus, but she will not live in it. No. She abruptly parks her bike, takes off her helmet, and marches up the college steps.

Kelsie loves English. But the professor always has to ruin it with his hum. He has a drone and a hum like everyone else’s, but his is dead. Who killed it? Kelsie twirls her hair tightly around her finger, wondering. Was it love that killed it? Did he have a dream that no one listened to? Did he have a traumatic childhood? Kelsie has an irresistible urge to hunt down this murderer of her professor’s voice. What did he sound like before? She takes steady notes, but as usual they lack richness and substance, since the professor does not display any rich substance for her to lean on. Her notes about English are as lifeless as the professor. She looks around her large classroom. Half of the students are knocked out on their desks. Kelsie groans and decides to sleep too. What is the point of listening to a dead hum?

Now it is lunchtime, and Kelsie’s stomach bunches in knots. She chastises it and goes into the lunch line early in order to appease to it. Getting there early is key. Otherwise there will be too many people, too many. So Kelsie clutches her purse and orders fast. Gets Salad. And…that is all. Kelsie wishes that she got something else. But students are coming. It will be crowded, too many people, too many. She sits down.

There are people everywhere in the vast college cafeteria. Sprawled on the floor, leaning on railings, slouched on tables. They are all opening their mouths. And they are all shoving food to it or shoving words out of it. Kelsie automatically tunes in. There is school humming in the air. With surfaced conversation. About cool teachers. Mean teachers. Hot teachers. Giggles, and guffaws, along with the hum.

Kelsie shoves food into her own mouth. Her mouth is dry. Wet enough to eat, but too dry enough to speak. She studies the mouths, trying hard to ignore the occasional food hanging out on them: fast hectic jabbering mouths, softer but still hummy mouths, loud, obnoxious runny mouths, giggly sss sss whispery mouths. All different, yet the same. Holds the same current. Causes smiles. And longer eye contacts. And bodies touching. A high five, a brush, a hug, a jab, a kiss. Some fainter than others, but a touch all the same.

Kelsie turns around. Carefully…slowly …No one is touching her. Her heart thumps down, down…She stands up, slams her tray in the trash, and leaves.

Study hour. The coffee shop. It gets colder at night, so Kelsie stays tight in the places that swirls with the mixture of coffee beans and fragrant cream. When Kelsie first comes inside from the taunts of the cold, cinnamon rolls burst with whispers and dances close to Kelsie’s nose. As well as buying a coffee that matches her skin tone, she buys a whole dozen of rolls immediately, biting into a different hum. Still has richness, but temporary substance. Temporary…she tries to ignore that.

All evening she listens. Two intellects are studying for calculus and American literature. A woman talks on the phone. Talking who knows what. Her rhythm: uh huh; jangle from her gold jewelry. Uh huh, jangle jangle. Uh huh. A young couple are conversing. This is their first date. Kelsie can tell, without looking. Their hums are not exactly consistent. Many pauses, short breaths. Hesitation. Kelsie doesn’t feel sorry for them though, as she readily types on her laptop. Soon, all they need is a physical display of lips merging into one, and they will be having their hum tomorrow. She can bet on it. Absently, she bites into another cinnamon roll. She wonders if her own hum can be a sweet as that, a cinnamon roll…

Kelsie comes home.

Mom hugs her, asks about school. She says it was fine. She shuffles towards her room. Her little brother is sprawled on his bed, asleep. He has his dreams blaring through his computer. Comedian. Laughter. Comedian. Kelsie knows better than to turn it down. She hesitates. Then she leans over, whispers, ~Keep dreaming, my Comedian. And kisses his cheek.

She falls into bed. She hopes and prays her own dream.

All she sees is darkness.

Chapter 2…

Another day, same way. Kelsie jabbers and words pour from her mouth as she dresses. She hears her brother’s dreams prancing, and her mother gives her some protein. Kelsie rides her bike. Even though it is raining. She goes to class and has to stay awake to her professor’s dead hum again. She will find that murderer. She will find and wrestle that professor’s voice back to life, somehow.

Lunchtime. Kelsie’s stomach ties despite of herself, and she is about to chastise it —

Excuse me.

Kelsie freezes. She feels that she is underwater.

Excuse me.

She squints her eyes. Looks. Yup, there is someone right in front of her. Looking right at her.

Kelsie thought she was early. Not too many people when she is early. But he’s still blinking at her. Kelsie doesn’t want to drown. He is supposed to briefly brush his eyes at her. Like the others do. Then create her a path, an even one, like the Red Sea. Kelsie is the Moses of the school; everyone parts away for her. She never misses her Red Seas.

So here is this guy, not making a path. But instead, letting her sink in the depths. She cannot swim — or float — she quickly averts to the right.

Oh no. You’re not in my way. I-I am new here. Do you know where I can find Professor Carmichael?

Kelsie surely doesn’t want to drown. She stares at the guy who possesses the voice. Guy with black, inky hair. Like a pen has exploded and landed all over his head. Except it is frothier, messier. His clothes look like he’d been through a fight, but this guy doesn’t look like a fighter.

Kelsie briefly gives him directions to Professor Carmichael’s classroom, grabs her lunch, then darts to the lunch table, her heart fizzing and buzzing.

And she listens to the conversations. Not really listening this time though. It crashes and crackles in her head, making her ears pop.

She sees people touch.

She longs for a cinnamon bun.

She feels cold and shivery. Why her? Why him…directing his words? At her?

She only gathers, not gives. She only accepts, not offers.

She doesn’t feel — only when she must. And right now she feels rigid, and really cold…

She feels a hand on her shoulder.

She shoots up, her food exploding in all directions.

She yelps, her voice echoing through the whole cafeteria.

She stares, at the Inky boy’s eyes, staring back at her in horror. His hand scurries from her shoulder.

I just — I am sorry — but you left your purse in the line…

Kelsie snatches her purse from him and flees out of the cafeteria, in attempt to escape the freezing cold, away, away.

She doesn’t go to the coffee shop. She doesn’t go home either. She surprises herself. She rides right into the playground. That is across the street, not far at all, but she never stops here. The sky is still laced with fog, and the ground shimmers with remains of rain, but that doesn’t stop the children from running around, playing. They have different hums. Almost like her little brother’s. Dreams, dreams spilling everywhere. She parks her bike. She sits on a bench, closes her eyes. A kid babbling about a kitten he saw. A kid trying her best to persuade her mom to buy her a dollhouse. Other kids shouting that they are the Kings of The World. Kids squealing screaming pushing. They’ll resolve it, Kelsie thinks without looking. They always do. Why can’t she learn?

Hi.

Kelsie jumps again, and her hand jabs at the splinters of the bench. That hurt. This Inky hair boy is trying to hurt her. She could be bleeding, bleeding all over…her heart almost gets stuck in her throat. She can hardly look at him.

-I’m not a stalker. I-I promise. I just take my little sister here every afternoon, even before I attended this school, rain or shine.

A chuckle, a kind of pleasant hum. -She loves to be outdoors.

Pause. Hesitant. Short breaths. Kelsie clenches her trembling hands into fists.

-Do you have a little brother? Sister?

Pause.

-Oh you are just here…just to be here. Do you like children? Do you…do you want to be a teacher?

Pause.

He sits down next to her, holds out his hand. I am Cameron, by the way. What’s your name?

Pause. Pause.

-We-we don’t have to talk.

So he doesn’t. He just continues to sit next to her, watching the kids. Kelsie’s eyes are still closed, but she can’t hear the children anymore. At least, in the present.

**

Kelsie,

We don’t wanna play with you.

Why?

Cause you smell like old fish and you poor.

No I’m not!

Uh huh! My mommy says so.

She lyin!

I’m not gonna talk to you no more.

Me neither.

Me neither.

Me too.

**

They’re children. They’ll resolve it. They always do.

Pause.

Pause.

Pause.

Conversation. Like Double Dutch. You want to jump in. You really do. You clench your hands, lean forward, ready to jump. But someone already jumps in. With their own rhythm, one two, one two. They finally jump out, and you brace yourself yet again, ready to jump in. Except you don’t know when. The ropes are swinging too fast. Too fast. Blinding. Now. Now? Now…do I jump? Scared. Shaking. The ropes won’t slow down. Go faster. You finally leave, because there is no point in jumping now.

Kelsie gets up and leaves Cameron in the rain that resumes in the fogged-up air.

Chapter 3…

Next day.

Kelsie skips lunch.

She skips the coffee shop too and heads right to the playground, although there isn’t as much kids as before. Not 2 o clock yet, school is not over for them. She hears someone sit right next to her. Hears crinkling.

-I-I brought you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They are-they are my favorite.

No. No. She will not take it. She will not. She crosses her arms tight and will not move.

She doesn’t eat peanut butter and jelly…

Her stomach growls. Roars. She sighs, blinks hard. She waits a long, long minute. She takes the sandwich.

Bites into it.

**

Here you go sweetie. This will make you feel better.

They are mean to me.

Don’t worry about them honey. Just eat your sandwich.

I don’t have friends no more.

**

Pause. Eyes closed. Still chewing. What is Cameron doing? He is still next to her, bodies not touching, saying nothing. She doesn’t care. She sits and listens for hums for hours.

Chapter 4…

Next day. Kelsie considers avoiding the playground, just for a moment. But she goes.

Cameron carries his little sister, who is clutching tightly to his frayed t shirt. Kelsie watches as he says a little calming hum to her, and she relaxes. He puts her down, makes her close her eyes, and places a peanut butter jelly sandwich in her outstretched hands. His sister squeals like her brother has given her a pony. She throws her arms around his neck, then kisses him. Bouncing, she grabs the sandwich and runs off to the swings to eat.

Cameron wipes his eyes briefly, then smiles at Kelsie. She pretends to not see him and instead watches the little girl. Cameron then watches her too, watches her, swinging and falling and squealing with laughter.

**

Mommy, Mommy!

What happened to you Kelsie?

The girls. They pushed me.

What?

Off the swing.

Oh sweetie, you are bleeding all over, sit still and I will fix it.

**

Cameron laughs. Kelsie whips her head and glares at him.

-Why are you…looking at my sister like that? Don’t worry. She’s strong. She falls all the time…but-but she always gets back up.

He puts a sandwich in her hand. Kelsie didn’t realize that her hand was open for it, waiting.

Chapter 5….

Next day.

Kelsie sits. And listens. She wants a sandwich. Cameron comes a little late. Kelsie’s body, tensed the whole time, relaxes once he sits down.

-Sorry I’m late. My-my sister had a doctor’s appointment today.

Kelsie makes a mistake of looking at him. Cameron’s head turns away at the last second, but she thinks she saw purple under his eye. Another fight, it seems; Kelsie is sure he lost. She can’t deny his scrawny frame, after all. His eye is as purple and faded as his hoodie. Her eyes linger at his long sleeves, his arms bury in the pockets.

She was wearing the same thing, yesterday. Except hers was black. Is Cameron copying her? Trying to mess with her head by probing with her style choice?

Cameron catches Kelsie looking at him. He looks at her for a long moment, purple eye and all. He puts his hand on her shoulder.

She feels the touch for hours and hours. And when she goes to bed that night she cannot understand that although Cameron’s face held uneasiness, her shoulder still feels the touch of his comfort.

Chapter 6…

Next day.

**

Kelsie,

You need to make new friends.

I don’t know how!

Just say hi first.

I’m too scared.

Too scared to say hi?

**

Kelsie feels Cameron slouch down to the bench. The bench creaks. He unwraps a peanut butter jelly sandwich. Kelsie can tell without looking, she can smell it.

~Hi.

It escaped, the naughty thing, before Kelsie can catch it.

Cameron turns to her. His clothes are more disarrayed than ever, but his eyes glow. Light. Too much light. Why all the light?

H-hi! How are you?

Kelsie covers her eyes. Turns her back on him. She feels him staring at her, trying to figure her out.

Are you…are you hungry?

**

Kelsie,

You are in middle school now.

I let it slide when you were in elementary, but you are too old now to be scared of talking to people.

They are more merciless in middle school, Mom.

Kelsie —

When I try to talk to them…when I just say one word to them — they come at me —

Shh. It’s okay honey…

They say I’m ugly.

Now you know —

Why can’t you get a real job? Maybe then they will stop torturing me.

Kelsie, you need to start ignoring the mean people and let the good people in. You’re shutting both out.

You-you just shut up, Mom! You don’t know anything!

**

Cameron’s eyes are red, faintly bleeding with his purple lids. And almost half shut. Kelsie feels like she yelled at him even though she didn’t. Or maybe he was tired. Of her. She kicks a pine cone hard and watches it bounce and disappear, while her foot throbs with anger.

Still, they eat sandwiches, silently, together.

Chapter…7…

Kelsie doesn’t want to go to the playground today, but she does anyway. Even though her foot is slightly bruised, instead of riding her bike, she walks all the way there. It’s a long walk, so many minutes away. But for some reason, she doesn’t mind.

She catches Cameron looking at her, and she walks faster, farther and farther from the playground. Cameron is still sitting on the bench. Hunched over. Frozen. Why doesn’t he follow me? She thinks, but she pushes the thought down quickly.

He has to watch his little sister. Right?

She walks among the trees, the shade protecting her from the harsh sun. She can sense the strong sweet smell of pine. Mmm… if she smells deeply enough…it smells like cinnamon.

**

I like listening.

Listening?

Yeah, to people, Mom. I don’t have to talk to them.

Pause, pause. Hesitant.

Mom?

Okay, Kelsie. If that’s what you want.

**

What I want. Want.

Suddenly Kelsie starts running,her heart tingling. It feels so good but it feels so wrong at the same time. I want, I want…feeling vibrations shivering all over her, ready to burst. The strong cinnamon smell is gone but she still, still,still wants it. She finally finds herself running towards the bench. The kids scream. The mothers glare. Cameron jolts up, grabs Kelsie by the shoulders. Kelsie almost falls into his chest…her heart warms. She is drowning… drowning…her face flares heat, and she pulls away at the last second.

-What is it? What-wh-what’s wrong?

~I want you to hum.

-WHAT!?

~I mean, talk to me Cameron. About anything.

-Um..?

~So I can listen.

So he does.

But they don’t talk at the playground. Cameron takes her hand and leads her to the coffee shop, the one Kelsie avoided since a week ago. He says it is better that way. Less people, less pressure.

Kelsie looks at him, and her heart shivers. What did he mean? She is only going to listen, listen to him and that’s all. Maybe they should go back… but she is cold, so she allows Cameron to hold the door open for her and allows herself to be greeted by the warmth of the cafe.

They squeeze into a booth, in the very back, the shop almost empty. Cozy. And that is when Kelsie realized that Cameron’s little sister isn’t here today. She is on a field trip with the other kindergarteners. At least that’s what Cameron said. She thought his sister was there. Then why was he still sitting on the bench when she was walking away?

Cameron talks and talks. His different hum. An abrupt stop and almost crash hum. A violent up and down hum. But it is still a hum.

Kelsie closes her eyes, sips her coffee that he bought for her. Listens. About Cameron’s little sister. His dreams, dreams, sloshing out of him, but he remains with lots of life. Kelsie doesn’t have to worry about finding the murderer of his voice, because he has none.

She notices something else too, different from all the other hums she had heard at school and the coffee shop and the playground. This hum is directed to her. It isn’t bouncing over her head, the conversations aren’t meant for other people. But this is for her. Filling her up, like the warm coffee, swirling inside her. There is sweetness of warmth and comfort. She listens and listens to Cameron’s voice hugging her senses softly.

Just when she is about to fall asleep in reverie, she sees the jump rope.

Double Dutch.

Swinging. She starts breathing fast, slowly backing away.

Now! Now… Now?

No, I can’t. I don’t know when. When to jump. Shaking, staring…

But she looks closer.

The rhythm isn’t so fast. In fact, it is getting slower…slower. One…two. One…two.

Cameron’s game…of Double Dutch…it is waiting…. for her…

To jump…

If that’s what you want, Kelsie.

What I…want…

Let the good people in.

In.

She opens her eyes. And she opens her mouth.

And she jumps.

She starts halting at first. Her voice, dry and ragged even. She almost feels faint, about to fall headfirst from the tangled ropes. She coughs violently, and tears spring up in her eyes. But then she feels Cameron’s hand on hers. A touch. And she looks in his eyes and takes a deep breath and starts over.

~My name. Is Kelsie.~ She lowers her eyes, the world swirling underneath her.

-Kelsie. Cameron leans forward. Smiles. -Kelsie.

He makes her name sound like the mug wrapped by Kelsie’s warming hands. Full of care. Not seeking to make it drop. And break.

-That’s a pretty name.

Pretty.

Fire flashes through her, but it immediately reduces to low heat.

Kelsie is no longer shivering.

She swallows. She tries again.

Careful.

Things that she only tells herself about, and God about…those very late nights and very early mornings. She doesn’t close her eyes to see. Not this time. No. Look in Cameron’s eyes. **Look at the person you are talking to, Kelsie. Eye Contact…** his eyes are brown and big and ready to be filled. So she does. She fills them, jumping more steadily now, the ropes slapping at the ground as Cameron slowly but surely turns them. He finally talks back, and Kelsie, a bit dizzy and relieved, listens to him, to his feelings, laced with fears, she thinks. Her turn. She sheds more of her heart, her heart is not pounding so hard, at least with fear. She has a hum. He has a hum. And… she knows it is a good hum. They are jumping together, in a little messy but still clear rhythm, but that was okay. One…two…one-two one-two. One…two…one-two one-two…bit by bit, they are going deeper and deeper until they are underwater, Kelsie scared that she might drown, but Cameron steadying her…she is swimming. Swimming into deeper depths that she has never seen or experienced. She feels warm and cool, and refreshed and

Light…and suddenly Cameron stops talking.

She is alone in this.

Cameron takes a deep, shuddering breath, rubs his arms, averts his eyes away from her.

She starts to choke, to shake, but…but she is Strong. She has fallen, but she knows how to get back up. She breathes. She gets up. She squeezes next to him.

She puts her hand on Cameron’s left arm.

He stiffens for a moment, his face almost falling. But then he looks up at her, his brown eyes brewing with something Kelsie cannot exactly interpret.

It seems like eternity, but he pulls up his sleeve.

Kelsie blinks.

There are bruises.

Endless.

Faded, filled with fraying colors.

-My-my dad…

He turns his head.

Pause…pause…

Pause…

…he can’t go on.

Kelsie bites her lip, staring at Cameron’s arm, his ripped clothes, his face. Then his eyes.

The swelling has gone down, but pain washes through her all the same…

Shame. She had thought…

He has fallen too. Been Pushed, off his swing.

He…he needs for her to jump. Alone. For him.

So she does.

She talks about her past, the little girls’ sneering faces searing through her, the struggles. She knows what she is giving, what she is offering. Her face is wet, and Cameron’s is too, but she keeps going. And as she keeps going she is tiptoeing surely out of that past, letting the door close softly behind her.

He sighs, a relieved sigh, and he closes his eyes, stops shaking.

She talks longer, jumping, jumping, heart surging with life, watching Cameron melt from her words. About her dreams, love, hope…he leans his curly head against her chest and Kelsie strokes his hair softly and Kelsie talks. Her faint, but calm, hum. Soothing, and healing him with her hum.

Kelsie comes home. It is late. Very late. Cameron keeps asking her if she would like to go home. She keeps saying no, and he smiles bigger. They eat and talk and walk the streets of downtown. His eyes shine, and that is all Kelsie needs to see through the dark. Their words, their exchanges, illuminate the darkened, wide streets.

She talks about her brother. She asks about his sister. -Don’t…don’t worry. He smiles. My-my sister is safe now. I will visit her soon.

He is quiet for a moment.

-I-I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you…the truth. Earlier.

Kelsie wraps her hand around his arm, covering his hurts, and leaves it there. Cameron lets her.

When she finally says she has to leave, he pulls her close to him. -Thank you. He whispers. He is crying again. Kelsie is crying too. ~No, no, shh, it’s okay, honey. I thank you.~ He strokes her hair. And they hug for a long moment, reveling from their conversations from the night.

They were deep and dark and even dangerous,

But it made them one.

Finally they let go, and Kelsie floats all the way home.

Her mother is blazing. She throws open the door, rages, shouts. Until Kelsie throws her arms around her. She softens like butter on a hot day. She leans against her daughter.

~I talked.~

-To who?

~To Cameron. I listened to his hum, he listened to mine. Yes, we talked. All night.~

Chapter 8

The Next Day.

Kelsie talks to herself. She talks to God. She throws on a dress. She looks in the mirror. Her brown skin glows warmth, and she lets her hair spill over her shoulders.

She bounces downstairs and talks to her mother, who is smiling sunrays. She talks to her little brother. Says she will take him to the playground today. He makes a face and says no, playgrounds are not for him. Kelsie howls, and tickles him, and dances out the house.

She meets Cameron who is waiting for her at the coffee shop.

-Let’s not eat here today,

He says and takes her hand.

~Where should we go?

Kelsie asks. She still marvels how her voice sounds with his, a rich and substantial melody.

-Lunch. So we can talk to other people.

He says…

-So… people can hear your hum, too, Kelsie.

Kelsie. She feels his eyes pouring in her.

~Did you pack any peanut butter and jelly sandwiches?

Her voice was a child’s.

Cameron’s eyes widen. His smile fills his whole face.

And he leans and kisses her on the cheek.

It is light,

And it is brief,

But it is all Kelsie needed.

To talk and talk and talk and talk

And class starts and she still wants to talk

And a girl walks and talks with Cameron and Kelsie and they

Walk to class and Kelsie talks and talks until she gets a talking to,

But it isn’t severe because this is her first offense, and for the first time her professor’s voice has life in it,

So Kelsie doesn’t have to find the murderer after all, and

Kelsie talks and talks

To Cameron, and he talks and talks to her, about their dreams raining on both until

They are soaked with what the future may bring,

and Cameron walks her home and he hugs her and they hug for so long, even longer than yesterday…

And Kelsie talks and talks and talks with her family until her voice starts getting hoarse, and she finally goes to bed.

***Mommy?

Yes dear.

I made a new friend.

And what’s the friend’s name?

Cameron. He talks a lot.

And his life can be…very hard. And hurting, like mine.

But he likes me. And I like him too.

And we are both working through it…together.

That’s great, honey! Stay by his side. I knew you would make a good friend. You are too good, you deserve only good.

Thank you, Mommy. And yes, he is the bestest, bestest friend a girl like me can have.***

Kelsie smiles sleepily and snuggles under the covers. She doesn’t want to close her eyes. Not yet. Hums and unimaginable dreams, filled with light, dances and jumps Double Dutch in her head, the ropes steadily slapping the ground as she jumps, and jumps …and jumps…with Cameron jumping alongside her…

There is no love in fear. But perfect love drives out fear…

1 John 4:18

Conversation