Rebeca kicked at the grass as she sulked around the humming nature preserve. A few yards away a gaggle of adults and kids buzzed around a flower bed, lecturing and jotted down notes. It wasn’t every day her school visited the state park, once a year to be exact, and she knew it was something to be enjoyed. The day was perfect: yellow sun, blue sky, white clouds. Nature was loving life, but something within Rebeca weighed her down, nagging and tugging at her heart in an upsetting way; instead of smelling the roses and sketching what insects she spotted, she let her lips turn down at the corners and gradually distanced herself from the group.
She knew she wanted to be alone, and while she didn’t know why, she knew she needed isolation sooner rather than later. Disregarding the strict ‘no wondering’ rule instilled in her since she was old enough to understand words, Rebeca slipped down a nearby trail undetected. As the little field with the noise of all her classmates and all the teachers and all the park staff fell away behind her, Rebeca felt herself take a deep, relaxing breath for the first time that day. The trees formed a shady canopy above her while grasshoppers played leap frog along the path ahead of each step. She felt like a princess, her grasshopper servants clearing the way before her, announcing her entrance into court.
The path opened into a small clearing, the center of which was a small clear pool. On the other side of the pool sat a young boy around her age, oblivious to her arrival. Rebeca walked closer to the pool to see he was dragging a long piece of grass back and forth through the water. Crouching by the edge of the water, she picked her own piece of grass and copied his movements. The passage of time was marked every few minutes by the cooing of a robin in the nearby trees.
“Hey,” Rebeca, now bored, called across the water. The boy looked up. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to catch a fish.” The boy said matter-of-factly. “What are you doing?”
“Trying to catch a fish.” Rebeca said.
“What’s your name?”
“Rebeca. What’s yours?”
“Hasan.” He said. “Did you come here with the school?”
“Yeah,” she said. “Did you?”
“Yes. I think we’re in different classes.”
“That makes sense.” She said. “Are there any fish in here?”
“I don’t think so.” Hasan said. “Do you want to be my girlfriend?”
“No, I don’t really like that sort of stuff.” Rebeca responded.
“Oh, ok.” He said. “Do you want to be my friend?”
“Best friend?” She asked, perking up.
“Ok. Do you wanna trade lunches? My mom packed a peanut butter sandwich, but I don’t really like those.”
“Sure.” She replied. “Do you like Cheetos?”
“Aww, I love Cheetos!” Hasan jumped up and ran around the pool.
“We can share them.” Rebeca smiled, standing up. Hasan was already running up the path back towards the nature preserve, screaming at her to hurry up. Dropping her blade of grass, Rebeca ran after.