We are old friends. Long-time friends, she'd say, old that way, not the other. I don’t care. Old friends, long-time friends, childhood friends—all the same to me.
And we were—are—old in spite of her quick disclaimer and all those sit-ups. We are old friends and know the other’s secrets, wishes, gifts, faults and sins—the whole catastrophe—as Zorba said in another context.
We were young enough to have danced like Zorba on the beach—our first holiday alone,
without parents. We spread our blanket on the hard sand, the tide on its way out, shed our cover-up and danced. Slowly at first, choosing the steps carefully—she humming softly, then louder as I picked up the pace, both of us finger to thumb, bounding across the sand in imitation of a Mexican actor being Greek, being free and passionate and young. I said young, but Zorba wasn’t young. It was we who were young and caught up in passion, not youth. We learned better than Basil, the young awkward man, took it to heart, felt the passion.
And then forgot it all in the tumult of marriage, babies, work, meetings—oh, god, the meetings, going here, there. Forgot it all until now. Not young. We are old friends, and if I say the word, she’ll stand slowly, but upright, raise her arms, curve her arthritic finger to her thumb and start the song.
I’ll start the dance, and she’ll join me. We’re not on the beach, but we can still dance.
Oh, yes, we still dance.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran