Six Years Earlier
Henry watched Kate as she stuck her hand into the slotted opening on her sparsely populated Valentine’s box, nerves thrumming—it was an unusual sensation for him,this insecurity.
He didn’t take his life for granted exactly, but there wasn’t a lot of conflict thrown his way, either, from his peers or from his family. He was too young to fully appreciate the blessing of having such a peaceful life, but old enough to understand that not everyone had it as good as he did.
He’d loved Kate for as long as he’d known her. She’d been his first friend on the first day of Kindergarten. He hadn’t wanted his mom to leave him in the big, new, scary place full of strangers. Kate had come over as he fought the
tears and placed her hand in his. With a smile, she’d led him to the coloring table and he’d been smitten from that day forward.
He’d never forgotten that; she’d been his comfort, his ray of sunshine in the dark storm of emotion.
Because of his sensitivity for her, he was one of the few who’d noticed the change in her over the past few years.
She’d gone from a sweet, funny girl who always smiled, and could always make others laugh, to someone who was
quiet and rarely smiled. It made him sad, mainly because he didn’t know why, and therefore couldn’t fix it.
He never gave up. He thought if he just kept trying, he could find that girl again. Even more than that, though, he wanted her to know how he felt about her—how he really felt about her. He didn’t think she could know how very much he wanted to be with her, how much he loved her. He hoped his special Valentine would make that clear.
Kate stuck her hand into her box, listlessly pulling out the small, store bought, generic cards that mostly sported
cartoon characters on them along with some cheesy, false sentiment. She barely glanced at them as she set them to
the side. He might have believed she was completely uncaring, removed from feeling anything about them, except for the tiny upturn at one corner of her mouth.
Finally she reached his. He could tell because the smile dropped from her face and her forehead creased in consternation as her hand was stopped in its retrieval progress. She tugged a little, then turned her hand at an angle to maneuver the large, folded piece of construction paper out of the opening.
Kate stared at the front. Henry suddenly felt embarrassed, unsure of his gift to her. Maybe it was stupi d…i t was stupid. It was idiotic and childish. Amateurish, the different colors of hearts layered one on top of the other on the red paper. He should have just bought one at the store—it would have been better. He balled his fists at his side as a flush stole up his cheeks. Then she opened it, read the words he had written there, and his stomach clenched.
An amazing thing happened then. Like the sun rising on the horizon, her smile appeared, changing her countenance, lighting her face in a way he hadn’t seen for too long. Her eyes came up to his, and in them he could see her answer.
She stood, and walked unsurely toward him, her smile wavering slightly. Then she turned into the coat closet, giving him a look that drew him toward her. He looked around to make sure no one was watching, waited a minute or so, then followed her in.
She stood in the back corner, waiting, worry puckering her brow, wringing her hands—until she saw Henry. Her face cleared and a small smile played across her lips.
Henry walked over to her, stopping directly in front of her.She glanced down, eyes slowly coming back to his as he leaned closer. She raised her mouth to his and kissed him.Surprise held him frozen for a long moment before he melted, innocently kissing her back.
She was his dream girl, and with her kiss she told him she was finally his.
Four months later Henry and his family moved away.