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BACK THEN IT WAS YOU THAT WAS QUIET

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You could call her change funny or drastic or really anything, but she was still your Annie. She had always been your Annie and you had been hers. In the 3rd grade, when your teacher told you to pair up for swimming lessons (something most of the students already knew, but the Capitol mandated anyway), she grabbed you and latched on. “Don’t drown on me, Odair,” she had ordered, black waves of hair mimicking the bigger waves that churned farther out. You only nod, because back then it was you that was quiet. The teacher tells you to wait, to wade into the water slowly, but before you know it, your partner is sprinting down the dock and launching herself into the water. Everyone is gasping and shouting and laughing and your teacher is sighing. But it is just something Annie does. Her green eyes (green like the seaweed in the bay) pop up above the water and her hair is pooled around her, blending in with the current. “Odair, are you coming or not?” she shouts, and now everyone is looking at you.

Annie trains you to be looked at, to be observed. She’s the center of attention, a pretty young child growing into a gorgeous young woman. She laughs at the wrong times, she stares off and daydreams. Sometimes, in the morning when you walk to school, you see her balancing on top of a pillar, watching the horizon. “Nothing’s out there,” you taunted once, attempting to make up for yesterday’s class where she beat your freestyle lap.

But she just smiles, smiles into the distance. “That’s what you think.”

Though you try to escape her, she always grabs you for group projects. She creeps up on you, and before you know it, you’re smitten.

 

She still stares off into the distance, still laughs when it’s not right to laugh. Sometimes, after she stares for a bit, she’ll squeeze those seaweed green eyes closed and inhale sharply, shielding her ears from some loud noise. Now it’s your turn to grab her, to pull her close and not to let her go. “There’s nothing out there,” you’ll whisper, tucking back the loose hair that’s as wild as the sea.

She just smiles, smiles into the distance, eyes not meeting yours. “That’s what you think.”