Though Kiki wanted, more than almost anything, to go home during the break between semesters, she just didn’t see how she could with soccer practice, the championship game, and the urgency of getting a head start on the next term.
“That’s OK,” Case assured her. “We’ll come see you!”
It had only been five months, but it felt like years. Had Case’s eyebrows been gray when she left? Was that a new stoop that Ira had when she walked? She tried not to notice the signs of aging Case and Ira displayed, but they were hard to miss.
“You look different,” Case said. “All grown up. So thin. You eating enough?”
“I’m great,” Kiki assured them. “How’re you two feeling?”
“Same old same old!” Ira replied. “Sorry we couldn’t make it last night’s game. I can’t believe we still haven’t seen you play.”
“Here! I’ll show you my tricks!” Kiki said. “I can dribble over two hundred times without missing.”
“You’re really good!” Case said. “I had no idea! That athletic scholarship turned out to be a good thing for you, eh?”
It really had. Kiki couldn’t imagine not being an athlete, at this point. The trainer told her to expect calls from agents next semester. Scouts had already been around watching her, and the offers were sure to follow. Kiki tried to put that out of her mind. She really didn’t want to become a pro–college athletics were what she wanted. Professionally, she wanted art to come first.
Kiki made a picnic lunch which they enjoyed in the back garden.
“So, I was hoping to get started on my presentation for music composition this weekend. You mind if I get to work? I’ll work on it out here, and we can visit while I tape stuff to the board.”
Of course they didn’t mind, remembering how much time Ira had to devote to her presentations when she was in college, and soon, Kiki was deep in her notes. Case and Ira took their conversation in the garden so as not to interrupt her concentration.
When she noticed they’d stepped away, Kiki felt struck by her independence. College really had taken her out of the family circle. It was so different, not living at home, not being part of the daily fabric of their lives. She had grown up, and she wasn’t sure she liked it.
“Your folks seem super cool,” her roommate Susume said.
“Oh, they are,” she answered. “They’ve always been that way, almost more like friends than anything.” But she felt lonely when she said that, glimpsing their conversation across the yard as if it were taking place across the county.
“I’m adopted,” she said.
“That’s cool,” said Susume. “You really lucked out with your parents.”
“Yeah, I guess I did,” she said. “But it makes this so hard. How come they’re right there, and I miss them so much?”
“Growing pains?” Susume suggested.
“I guess so. I kinda still want to be the little girl at home, but I’m just not that person anymore.”
“Well, everything changes,” Susume said. “That’s the devil of it.”