Once, when I was seven, I was in love. He was two inches taller than me, but two days younger. He pushed me on the swings, and I pushed him down the slides. When some mean boys came and started teasing me, he shoved them back and kept me safe. Then he took my hand and brought me to the teeter-totter, where we played together. I loved him and he loved me.
Mommy said that when a boy likes a girl, he teases her and pushes her down, because that's the only way he knows how to get the girl's attention. I told her that when a boy loves a girl, he makes those kind of boys go away. Mommy said I was too young to know what love is. So I told her that love was what made Daddy smile at her when she was messy and cleaning dishes. Love was what made Mommy listen when he complained about work. Love was what made them both kiss me goodnight even when they were tired and just wanted to go to bed.
Daddy said that when a boy likes a girl, he stutters and goes red in the face, and can't say anything. I told him that when a boy loves a girl, he doesn't need to say a word. Daddy said that love could mean anything. So I told him that love meant everything. Love meant giving Mommy a hug even when she was all sweaty and dirty from gardening. Love meant giving Daddy a kiss even when he was red and angry. Love meant giving me dessert even when I got a bad grade on my math test.
Once, when I was seven, I was in love. He was two inches taller than me, but two days younger. On my birthday, he gave me a kiss on the cheek. On his birthday, I gave him a kiss on the lips. We were eight and in love, and when we blew out our candles, we both wished for the same thing. Then we held hands and he pushed me on the swings and I pushed him down the slides. When his sister stole his favorite toy, I stole it back and gave it to him. Then I took his hand and brought him to the teeter-totter, where we played together. I loved him and he loved me.
For seven days, he went away. His Mommy and Daddy and sister packed up and went far away to go on va-ca-tion. I told Mommy I was bored, so she told me to go play. I went and tried to play, but there was something wrong. There was no one to push me on the swings, and no one to push down the slide. I played by myself on the teeter-totter. But it was okay. Because he'd be back in seven days, and everything would be fine.
For seven days, he went away. But on the fifth day, his Mommy and Daddy and sister packed up and came back home. They were crying. I told Daddy I didn't understand, so he told me about death. I went to a fu-ner-al, and wore all boring black colors. He was there, but it had been longer than seven days, and he was asleep. I tried to wake him up, but Mommy pulled me away and said he was gone. I cried because everyone else cried, but I didn't understand. If he was gone, why was he right there?
He never woke up. They closed the boring black door and put him in the boring black dirt. And I sat on the swings, but I didn't move. And I waited at the top of the slides, but there was no one to push. And I played by myself on the teeter-totter, which could now only teeter and never totter. Mommy said I was too young to know what love is, and Daddy said love could mean anything. So I told them that love was the totter to the teeter. Love meant that I was only half now.
Once, when I was seven, I was in love. He was two inches taller than me, but two days younger. He pushed me on the swings, and I pushed him down the slide. Then we'd hold each other's hand and play together on the teeter-totter. I loved him and he loved me.
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