Riley and I stopped halfway across the footbridge leading to the other side of campus. “My dad used to tell me life’s a lot like being an artist. It has less to do with mastering technique or theory, and everything to do with risking the cost of opening your heart to the song you’re meant to share.” Amazing how he’d made that so easy to believe.
Riley set his arms next to mine on the rail. “He sounds like a wise guy.”
“He was.” The wooden plank scratched into my palms, the sense of loss cutting deeper. “A natural dreamer too. You would’ve liked him. You share a similar passion. I can tell. You’re probably connecting with more people than you realize. There’s something about music. Even if you’re not aware of what you’re missing, you walk away after hearing it, knowing—”
“You can’t live without it.”
“Exactly.” I turned and met a gaze locked on mine, as if he hadn’t looked away the entire time I was talking. He held that same expression from the first day I saw him—torn between surprise and fear of finding something he’d lost.
“The way you understand things, it’s . . . refreshing,” he said.
The sincerity teeming in his eyes turned my throat dry. The bridge’s hazy blue lights lit up an exit route.
On the other side of the bridge, we stopped along the edge of the empty sports field. I slid out of my flip-flops and sank my heels into the cool earth. “When I was a kid, I practically lived in my backyard.” Blades of grass wove through my toes with each step toward the center of the field. “Do you mind if we sit for a while?” I spun around.
Riley stood back on the sidewalk, staring with enough enamor to be admiring an intricate painting.
I peered behind me and back again. “What?”
Glimpses of a hidden expression followed him toward me. “Sorry. The beauty of artistry still catches me by surprise sometimes.”