“Can I tell you something?”
In the midnight hour, the city was fast asleep and I could see the lights from the lamp posts outside dwindling slowly. She held the sun in her hands as she spoke, but that was her. Young, wild, and free she was — her hair still tied in her signature pigtails. She hugged her stuffed whale toy and sighed excitedly, as I turned to face her with eyes that yearned to shut.
I could see her silhouette restless on the covers beside me as she squealed. What a time to be nine years old again, where all you were ever worried about was anxiously awaiting a new Barbie doll, or if you were ever going to have the hours go faster before you could read that Donald Duck comic book with morning light.
“I’m fallen in love.”
She declared it, not questioned it, as if she wanted the world to know eventually even if we were in the confines of our bedroom. It was a very different way of hearing it, when you would usually find yourself admitting that with a much more unsure, resilient tone (even in whispers, if I may add). But I wasn’t surprised that she sounded that way. For someone so young, she was so sure and determined — yet the sentiment was a bit lost when she immediately admitted she had fallen in love with thirty more boys (“But I reduced the list to three. Thirty is just too much!” At least we know she’s on her way to a life of monogamy.).
“In love? With whom?”
The name (which will remain a secret) spilled out of her mouth and she buried her head quickly into the pillow as soon as she said it. I laughed and I said, “Well, what’s he like?”
“He has blond hair and he’s older than me. He’s eleven.”
(So much for the one amongst a sea of people.)
“Oh,” I said. “Will you–”
“He spoke to me once!” she pointed out. “During a football game.”
“What did he say?”
“He called my name!” she exclaimed, then she frowned. “Or I think he called my name.”
“I think he did call your name.” I offered.
“But you know, I talk to him in my head,” she said. “I… I can hear him in my mind.”
“What do you tell him?”
“Do you remember me?” she nodded as she closed her eyes. “I ask him that all the time.”
“And what does he say?”
She paused. “‘I know you still.'”