He knows it's impolite to stare, but he can't help himself. She's pretty and fun, and he doesn't know when he stopped thinking of girls having cooties.
She smiles a smile at him that makes his hands tremble and laugh his too-loud laugh. They're stomping on cardboard buildings, dressed as monsters. The sun is at his back but she's standing in front of him and so he feels like he's enveloped in warmth.
He's never been happier. He tucks the memory in his heart's pocket to keep forever.
The cherry pie is beckoning to her, golden and delicious and she knows she has to have a taste. A little pink tongue pokes out of her lips as she tiptoes towards it. He told her to wait, but she couldn't. Her impatience is notorious.
Karma is always present, though, and she finds herself tripping on a slick of water, falling face-first towards the pie. Splat!
Her mouth is opening and closing like a fish as she extracts herself from the dish, absolutely covered in cherries, piecrust and deliciousness. She hears a too-loud laugh and wipes her eyes to see him standing with two plates in his hands. He doesn't scold her, just takes a piece of pie from her chin and eats it.
She thinks that she wouldn't mind if this ever happens again.
Grey, grey, grey. Grey overwhelms his room, his school, his life. He is thirteen now, but he feels years older. He remembers a time full of colour and sunshine and he wonders where all of that went.
He stares at his hands.
His mouth twists into a frown, and he thinks he might cry for a second. He has never cried. But all he can think about is his mother and of her. There is no one here even of her gender, let alone with her personality. Everything is his fault. It feels like his lungs are pressing down on him, making it difficult to breathe. The room is oppressive.
He escapes outside, into the sunlight.
She dances an imaginary waltz with an imaginary boy, pigtails fluttering around her. It is wonderful for a few moments to forget all of her responsibilities and dance with a boy that isn't real. She imagines that she is in one of her teen movies and he leans in close with a kiss. Her foot rises in the air accordingly. It is what all the movie actresses do, after all.
A sudden draft of air tickles her ankle and her empty arms. She can smell cherries in the air. Her brow wrinkles and she stops, her foot dropping and her eyes opening.
Her imaginary partner won't do anymore. All she wants are pies and a sweet brown-haired boy offering her a shy, crooked smile.
Time to cook.
He can't believe that they are sitting in the same room, breathing the same air after 19 long years. He thinks his heart may have stopped but no, he presses a hand surreptitiously to his chest and he can feel it hammering away.
It knows his excitement.
Her hand is right there, and he wants so desperately to touch it, to hold the human that he has been craving his entire life but he cannot and will not. Every neuron in his body is begging to touch her. But he will not give up the best thing that has happened to him because of his stupidity, not this time, even if it kills him.
He settles for smiling at her, his eyes low and hopeful. She has not lost any of her vitality, and the bright response he gets from her makes him grip the counter.
Everything happens for a reason, and he knew that something big was coming when he went to Coeur d'Coeurs. He is going to keep her in his life as long as possible.
It's the first time that he thinks that God could be real. She would be the perfect sign.
But then she is talking, and none of that matters. He puts her image in his heart's pocket to keep forever.