I didn’t really know the girl. She had taken me as some sort of older sister figure. A much older sister. The sister who is in college when you’re just entering middle school. “I’m never going to know you,” she said “but I know I can talk to you.” I accepted this role and made her cookies when she asked and gave her advice when she didn’t.

One day I saw her walking out of a common room hand in hand with a boy. I looked at her and raised an eyebrow as best I can–which is to say not very well. She tried not to smile.

She found me later that night, as I sat outside drinking tea wondering when I should go home.

“I said ‘I think you’re pretty cool’ and he said ‘I think you’re pretty cool’ and that was it,” she whispered. She didn’t want anyone else to know yet. She wanted to wash herself in her experience and keep it and hold it and share it with whomever she could while not giving it up at all.

“That’s perfect,” I said.

“It was.” She smiled. “It was perfect.”