Recognition came soon enough; soon enough being a few hundred metres from where they stood to the parking lot.
She waved both arms wildly, a wide, childish smile spread across her face.
“Hi mum, hi dad!”
Her voice shot two octaves above normal, above her normal, he observed quietly.
It was holiday time, and yet, to him it seemed that for her, it was quite the opposite.
It seemed to him that her time here was really her vacation, a year long escape from the knowledge of who she was.
Not that it bothered her, this knowledge. She was comfortable with both sides of herself.
She had admitted as much to him during one of their conversations. It seemed wherever she went, part of her faded away into non-existence, another facade she had no more use for, except it wasn’t really a facade; more like a new part of her discovered, and welcomed into her self-realisation.
A new part of her to be discarded like the shedding of skin, the changing of the seasons.
The chameleon moved on.
And still, there was part of her that never really fell into disuse, a constant ruse she employed, a constant ruse that employed her, was more apt to say.
There was warmth in slipping back into the old skin, he could see.
She lost years, not that there was much there to lose.
Being a college student in the second year didn’t really get you decreed you much older than a child.
So the institution had changed. How much difference really distinguished a nineteen year old from one seventeen?
As lucidly as that question could be answered, no doubt there were days when she noticeably slipped, tripped, fell back into that sixteen year old skin, and, learning her terminology, he too could identify when he slipped.
So the second skin was never far from reach. And despite all the maturity that living alone, together with a hundred others alone, brought, one break was enough to rob them of all the progress.
It was true of them all, he reflected, as he watched her with her family.
Her year long vacation had ended, skins exchanged, she was now back at work, just as the Christmas break set in. Intriguing and amusing, yet how was it anything but a different interpretation of how he, and perhaps everyone within these campus walls felt? The return to familiarity, to a sort of routine reserved for the holidays ensnared them all, left them all feeling the same way, as he had no doubt he would hear when their vacation began again, complete with majors and projects to take care of.
So he looked at her again and sighed, then smiled.
It was time to invoke the chameleon again. He slipped a hand into his pocket and took out a cellphone.
And slipped into a skin last used six months ago.