She Hasn't Changed

"So how was she?" he asked, referring to an old friend from high school days who she'd just caught up with for the first time in years.

"She hasn't changed," she answered.

He laughed. "Yes, it sometimes seems like that, doesn't it. I remember when I came back from America, all of my friends were saying that I hadn't changed. I was really annoyed. I'd seen and done so much while I was there that it felt like I'd changed completely; and here they were, not noticing it..."

"No," she said, "you don't understand. I mean she hasn't changed."

His smile remained, but his eyebrow arched upwards. "What, not at all?"

"She hasn't changed," she said, shaking her head. "She's exactly the same as she was at school. She's the same height, the same weight, the same shape; her hair's still the same. She parts it in the middle, just like she did then, and wears it long down her back, just like before. Her face is still the same; she doesn't even have any wrinkles. She still has pimples, for goodness' sake."

She paused a moment, remembering.

"And her laugh—her laugh is still the same. That same screeching laugh. Her voice is still the same; a girl's voice. She uses the same words; the same slang, even. Words I haven't heard for years. 'Grouse'—she still calls things 'grouse'! She talks in the same short sentences, hardly responding to questions. And she's always chewing gum. The same brand. In the same kind of wrapping, when they changed it years ago.

"She wears the same clothes. Not the same kind of clothes—the same clothes. Her old uniform. The shirt still has writing all over it from when we all signed them for each other on the last day of school. Her skirt is looking kind of ragged along the edges, but it's the same one, too. The shoes are practically falling off her feet, but she still wears them. The very same shoes.

"She holds the same views; she thinks the same thoughts; she cracks the same jokes; she smokes the same smokes. She listens to the same music. She was humming the exact same tune as she was the last time I saw her, sixteen years ago. She hasn't changed."

She stopped talking. She looked down at her clothes, the fashionable new clothes adorning a body that she struggled to keep in shape at the local gym three times a week. She held out her hands, with their signs of age showing through the moisturiser. She put them up to her face, and slid them down her cheeks, bringing them together under her chin.

He waited politely, until curiosity got the better of him.

"What did she say?" he asked.

She laughed. "She said, 'Christ, you've changed.'"


This page: 31 January 2000; last modified 16 February 2001.

©2000 Rory Ewins