They first met on a crisp September morning, sitting at the very back of an introductory Quantum Physics class. She was an exchange student trying to improve her grasp of the English language without meeting anyone's eyes. They were an unthetered soul in search of free wi-fi and abstract wonder.
When the obligatory Get To Know Eachother team exercice came, she shot a fleeting glance their way. They gave a little nod, dragged their chair to her desk and gestured for her Totoro notebook. She pushed it softly across the desk, along with a mechanical pencil. Here’s what they wrote:
Hello, I’m Racoon. I come from up North. I'm here this morning because I needed to use the school's wifi. I'm not actually enrolled in this class.
My favorite activities are Travelling, Music, Ramen and watching City Lights at night. And you?
She smiled to herself as she decoded the scratch-like script. The answer came in neat, carefully printed letters, each curve a slow stroke as if she was painting:
My name is Shizuno . I am from the city of Nagoya in Japan . I am here to learn better english . I like nature and astrophysics .
The tip of the pencil halted and sunk into the last circle-like dot. Racoon crossed their small hands on the desk, eyes on all the blank space left on the page.
Around them, some people were talking earnestly, others laughing or leafing through the syllabus. For a couple of precious weeks, all these young people would be seeking new connections, eyes and minds wide open. Then October would find them settling in their new ways, closing the hatches already.
Racoon had made a vow a couple years ago to live in an eternal September. It was difficult sometimes, the vulnerability and the lack of anchors, but it had been worth it so far.
Shizuno might have felt the pull of the blank page as well, because she had resumed her calligraphy:
I like ramen too . Do you know good ramen shops here in Seattle ?
Racoon chirped happily and pulled up a map on their beaten up smartphone. In the adress bar, next to the small red dot on its grid, they typed: best one imo
She nodded to herself, looking at the screen. Then her eyes pulled towards theirs and locked into place. Racoon felt a small jolt in their chest, saw it reflected in the minute widening of her eyes. They both laughed to aknowledge the connection, little more than a silent puff of air. She nodded and gestured for Racoon to bring their things over to her desk.
They spent the rest of the class in companionable silence, Racoon's doodles a counterpoint to her neat rows of equations.