She received a valentine once in the second grade, a pretty card of two Dutch children, signed Larry. Larry lived two blocks after hers. They kinda walked home together. He mostly ran around trees, jumped on porches, pretending to be a super hero. She saved her valentine in a cigar box with a chestnut, some marbles, and a 7 Up bottle cap., After fifty years, she thinks about energy, DNA, and the odds of Larry landing on the moon or in prison.
The year she stopped eating and working and talking, she devolved, draping cloth over mirrors, not brushing her teeth. She went from Emily Dickinson to Sylvia Plath to Anne Sexton, reading their work over and over, copying their words. A day came. She reached for a pencil... cracked egg, hot griddle. Her first poem filled two pages. She now eats oatmeal and wanton soup from the Chinese restaurant.
He saw her but didn't let on. First from the corner of his eye, then shamelessly. He imagined how she might be, holding his hand, traveling the rails, then late at night in a motel with red marquee light playing along the side of her face, her body in light and shadow. She turned. It was the boy from chemistry class, the dreamer who mostly looked out the window. Their gaze connected, lingered. Suddenly, she felt skittish, a racehorse in the starting gate, her heart bursting, ready to run reckless.