I noticed the hammock as I pushed open the second set of SSC doors and emerged into the brilliant sunshine. Now, hammocks are hardly an odd sight on campus. On a day like this, the strange thing would be to not see at least one student happily hammocking. However, two things about this particular hammock caught my attention as I headed towards Tyler for my next class. First of all: the location. For some reason, the owner of the hammock had hung it under the bridge between the HSC and the ENS. This still wasn't unheard-of, even if it was unusual; unless the lake was especially high, that bridge only crossed a concrete slab. Anyone could walk on it and set up a hammock if they wanted to.
The second unusual thing about the hammock, I didn't realize until I had almost reached the bridge. At that point, the person occupying the hammock poked her head out, grinned, and called out, "Oh, hello!" Even that wasn't particularly unusual, though- except for the identity of the person.
"Uhjin!" I immediately scrambled down the grassy bank towards the edge of Cedar Lake. "What are you doing here?"
Uhjin pushed her black curls away from her face. "I'm enjoying myself. You don't need me for another six chapters at least, since Callie and Jonathan are doing all the work right now, and it's a beautiful day; I might as well make the most of it. Join me? There's room for a second hammock down here."
"Sorry, no. I have a class in . . ." I checked my phone. "Half an hour. Also, I don't have a hammock."
"You're an author." Uhjin twisted so she lay on her stomach, which set the hammock rocking so much I thought she'd fall out. "Can't you just poof one into existence?"
"Sorry, reality-warping abilities only apply in storyworlds." I hooked my fingers around my backpack straps. "So why are you under the bridge?"
"Because I wanted to be, of course. It's something different." Uhjin looked out at the lake. "This is nice. We should get one at Foundry City College."
"Good luck with that." I laughed. "You're in the middle of a city, not a cornfield like here-- which I think is why you went in the first place- and I don't see the college trustees or whoever runs the place putting in an artificial lake."
"You could put in a lake." Uhjin gave me a sweet smile, the same one that convinced Callie to set aside work and practice in favor of campus on more than one occasion and won Uhjin all her many boyfriends to date. "You're the author."
However effective Uhjin's smile might be, I have enough experience with my younger sister to not be swayed. "Nice try, but no."
"Oh well." Uhjin slid back into her hammock so she was basically hidden. "Worth a try."
"No, it really wasn't." I checked my phone again. "I need to get going. Will you be here later?"
"Probably." Uhjin sat back up to wave. "See you around."
I headed back up to the sidewalk. "See you- if not here, then in the story."