“Tina, is that you? Oh my God it’s been ages. It’s me,” Lena said.
She was carrying an burnt umber plastic tray of General Tso’s chicken in the Chase Mall food court. Tina looked up at Lena with huge eyes. Lena and Tina had been thick as thieves in high school. Tina had transferred in the middle of junior year. Overnight Tina became the star of spring track and softball, cheer leader, and class photographer. Lena had been not shy but a quiet girl, who slipped along in the shadows. They met in Honors English and Lena remembered suddenly being in a spotlight of Tina. They lived in each other’s pocket. Tina’s aunt was real strict so Tina practically lived with Lena’s family. Lena stared into Tina’s big eyes of sleepovers and secrets and so much unexpected joy. Lena remembered when her best friend suddenly left town early in senior year, no email, no call. Just whispers and sympathetic looks from a few administrators.
The girl in the high school cheerleader outfit said nothing. Slowly Lena took in at the girl with the big eyes’ clothes and her giggling circle of clearly teenaged girlfriends and the fear in those huge eyes. Lena stammered and walked to a table across the court.
“Who’s that girl, Mommy?” Kristina asked.
Lena’s daughter bobbed alongside her with a tray of chicken fingers and waffle fries. “Do you know that girl? She’s like the one in the picture, right.”
“Not anymore Teeny. Let’s chow down before the movie.”
The pair sat at the small yellow table and Kristina chatter away. Across the food court the cheerleader watched them a grateful look skittered on her face before she joined in the laughter at her table.