“How did we get here?” I ask, tossing another grape in the air to catch in my mouth.
“We walked here,” Lani replies simply, stretched out on the grass.
“No, I meant, how did we get here?” I say, this time my hands arching upwards, motioning towards the paneled glass ceiling and rope netting play structures surrounding us. The blue sky and the warmth of the sun shine through.
“I don’t remember,” she responds unconcerned. “But isn’t it lovely? There is gourmet food anytime we want. We are surrounded by beautiful gardens and cool grass, yet it never rains. And they even stocked my closet with some of the most fashionable clothing I have ever seen. I’m glad we are here.”
I throw another grape into my mouth as I rack my brain, trying to remember our arrival, but it remains elusive. I’m fairly certain we have not always been here, but I can only ever remember being here. I have dreams of living in an apartment, similar to the room we share now, but it looks over a city of tall buildings instead of this park. Maybe it never was. I shake the thought from my head.
“Here comes Cousin Budi,” Lani says as she rolls over onto her stomach, resting her chin in her hands.
I watch as Cousin Budi makes his way down from the rope canopy. His hairy orange body swings around poles and ropes, and his padded feet land on the grass about ten feet away. As Budi lumbers over, using his arms as supporting crutches, I look down at my own arms. They are hairy for sure, but not at all like Budi’s. My skin is pale and exposed in comparison.
Cousin Budi grunts and grabs a handful of grapes and moves a distance away to eat in peace.
Lani giggles. “Oh, Cousin Budi. He cracks me up.”
I’m not laughing. I don’t see anything funny.
“He is not our cousin. I don’t know why we call him that,” I retort, crossing my arms.
“What’s gotten into you, Jimmy?” she says, giving me a sideways glance, squinting in the sunlight. “You have been so negative lately.”
“I just…” I pause, trying to think of the right words to say. “I just don’t get it. This all seems so unnatural. I don’t think we are meant to be here, here in this place – whatever it is. It just doesn’t seem right.”
Lani stares at me blankly for a moment, as if I told her that the dress she was wearing didn’t match her shoes.
“I don’t get you,” she finally says, pulling herself up to a sitting position with her arms wrapped around her knees. “We have this wonderful home, this wonderful family, this wonderful life – and you want to go and question it, like it is not good enough.”
Tears start to pool in her eyes. I look away.
“If this isn’t a great life, I don’t know what you are looking for. I’m happy, why can’t you be?”
With that she buries her head in her knees and sobs.
I don’t know what to say. I already said enough. So I stand up and walk over to the mirror that wraps around the lower length of our beautiful but contained world. I look down at my scrawny arms and my designer jeans. This place isn’t bad, I think, it’s just something in my gut says it’s wrong.
I glance back at Lani to see how she is faring and see that Cousin Budi has come over and wrapped his shaggy arms around her in an attempt to comfort her. I smile because it does look sort of ridiculous and – I hate to admit – very cute.
With the grin still on my face, I turn back to the mirror and look into my own eyes, searching for the deeper answers to life – the whys and the hows of our existence. In my soul searching, I could swear that for just a brief moment, I saw a pair of eyes staring back at me.