You wore that green sweater all the time. I remember wondering if it was your favorite or your only. I wanted to be both, see. Your favorite and your only. Not really. In that way that twelve year old boys have, knowing they can outman the compromised adults they see around them if only given the chance.
We rode the bus. Nothing special about that. Except it was special. Because I could see glimpses of your smile, your hair. I rode in the back, of course. You sat right at the front, backpack still on, like you were ready to hit the ground at a dead sprint to get the jump on learning. Straight back, green sweater. You smelled like flowers.
No one spoke to you. I wonder, now, if that hurt? Did you feel snubbed? Did you not realize that the other girls feared you and the boys were terrified? We were content to get our short glimpses. They kept us going for weeks. The girls just wanted to be you and some of them took it hard. I hope to hell you didn't think it was because no one liked you. You were just a different species, and we couldn't relate.
The weird thing about time, the part I can never understand is this: I have no idea where you are. What you're doing. You're a few years older than me. We wouldn't recognize each other on the street. But I would instantly recognize that green sweater. No doubt. And sometimes when I walk through grocery stores, I realize that you smelled like laundry detergent, not flowers.