I tapped my desk with my pencil, smiling. Siley had that effect on people. She just… shone. “So did you read that book you were excited for?”
She laughed and raised her eyebrows towards me, pausing for a moment to write down notes from the lecture slides on the whiteboard. I couldn’t help but smile again as she looked back up. “Yeah… I started it, but it got scandalous really quick.”
“Scandalous?” Another friend laughed. “Siley, I just love you. Who says that?” Siley just smiled and turned back to her note taking.
“Aw, I’m sorry,” I said.
She shrugged. “I really liked that author, too–it’s a shame she’s started doing that with her books.”
I nodded again, not knowing what else to say. How did she do it? I wondered. Siley never seemed at a loss. Did she still struggle? Yes–she’d talked to me about the hard times. We’d been friends for years, after all. But those hardships never took away her smile, never clouded her perspective, and never swayed her core. She stood like a rock, unmovable in her standards and in her kindness.
A burst of laughter distracted me, and I flicked my head around. A group of students nearby hovered around a central phone, giggling to themselves. I could hear just enough of what they said to know I didn’t want to hear any more.
“No, put lasers coming out of his eyes.”
“It’s ridiculous,” one said. “Who even let’s such a r***** into school?”
“He’s h******* annoying, I know. It’s just so hard to deal with”
I closed my eyes. The worst of it was, I couldn’t say anything. The thought that he was annoying had flicked across my mind too, after all. Holding a conversation was hard when a classmate interrupted every thirty seconds. I’d never say it, but that couldn’t erase the thought. My smile disappeared completely.
“I like his ukulele.” I turned and looked at Siley. My breathe stopped in my throat.
“I like his ukelele,” she repeated. “He plays really well. He’s a great friend.”
“Oh.” The group didn’t say anything else for a moment, one of them sliding the phone off of the desk and into her bag.
“Did you see the new Captain America?” Siley continued. “It was really good.”
“…Yeah,” one of them offered. The tension broke and they started to chat about Iron man and the others. I sat back in my desk, tapping my pencil once more against the wood. The pit in my stomach wasn’t gone, but Siley shone brighter than ever.
She stood barely five feet tall, but since when has strength required a big package?
Thanks for Reading,