A girl I used to know.

Natalie is my first girlfriend. We’re in second grade. I’m 7, she’s 7 and 1/2. I like it because she’s a girl. Why I like her I don’t know. The main thing is I feel good when we’re together. She’s different from me, and other boys. Her smile’s better. It seems to mean more. It makes me want to make it bigger somehow. (It’s like if it did get bigger, she’d know what to do with it more than boys would).
In class I just look at her when I can. If she’s not here, I don’t want to be here. I hate it when she’s sick. She’s not here, I can’t see her.
Oh, did I tell you she’s pretty? Well, she is. Prettiest girl I know. Boys can never be as pretty. For girls it’s like their job. They naturally do it and they help it to. I feel caught with her prettiness sometimes, like I was a bug. I get quiet and numb. When she looks at me.
“Tommy what’s wrong?”
“You look funny.”
“No I don’t. Take it back.”
“You were looking at me and I started to get scared.”
“I didn’t mean anything.”
“I didn’t know if something was wrong with you. You’re better now.”
“How do you know?”
“Because now you are talking and I know you.”
Sometimes in class teachers tell us stuff, like, ‘Beware of strange people.’ ‘If someone is staring at you, you don’t know, report that person to the teacher.’ Maybe she gets ideas like that from them, or maybe her mother tells her things. There’s this secret world girls have. They keep things inside and don’t tell you what they’re thinking. Sometimes they have feelings they don’t want and just want them to stop.
One thing Natalie does is she treats me like her cat. When I’m over at her house she brings her cat over, and puts it in her lap and starts petting it. ‘Nice kitty’ ‘Aren’t you a big girl?’ ‘Who wants a toy to play with?’
When we’re playing at recess I run after Natalie or she runs after me. If I’m on the ground, she stops me and hugs me and some times kisses me. Like her cat. Real quick. And she says,
“You’re so cute! This time, you catch me. I bet you’re not fast enough!” Then she’s up running away.
I’m like a play toy.
One time we were playing and Natalie fell. She started crying. I never saw her cry before. I went over to her and I asked her,
“What happened? Are you ok?”
“Leave me alone. Don’t touch me.”
I backed off and the teacher came over. Soon an ambulance came and doctors put her on a bed and took her away. I didn’t know what to do. Was it my fault? Did I get her so worked up she fell down and hurt herself? Does she hate me now? Will I ever see her again, or will they put her in a different school?
Before we go home the teacher Miss Grimes tells us Natalie broke her arm. I went home and cried. My dog came over to see what was wrong with me and he licked my face. That makes me feel better. For me he’s like Natalie’s cat.
Natalie didn’t come to school for a long while. I don’t want to be here anymore, but I don’t know any way out. This all happened around summer break. When school stopped for summer, Natalie still wasn’t back, and I didn’t know if I’d ever see her again.
One day at home, Natalie’s Mom comes in and asks to talk with me; before she said anything I thought it was going to be really bad.
“Natalie is asking for you.”
“Her arm is in a cast, and it is due to come off, the only way she will let the doctor take it off is if you are there. Will you come with me to the doctor’s office, for Natalie?”
I go out to their car and Natalie is in the backseat. She’s smiling at me, even with her broken arm.
We go into the doctor’s office and wait. We don’t say much, but we keep looking at each other. Finally, we go into this room, where there’s a saw. I though they might cut her with the blade, but they didn’t. Later Natalie gives me her cast that has writing on it from all her friends. She has me put my name on it too. It’s the best present I ever got.

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