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Here is what I remember about you: how you would suddenly become serious with a quiet thoughtful look; your glances over the shared reading book; the way you said my name.

I think of you when thunder rolls. I think of the time we ran out into the play yard during recess, in the heavy rain. It was warm, and pelted down our backs and slid off our faces. We ran in it and felt so free.

I remember hiding under the tire mountain in the rain and you sitting quietly beside me, holding my hand. You were shaking. I thought you were cold then, but I know better now.

I remember telling you my darkest secret, and you never turned away from my face as I told you. Tears chasing raindrops. You broke my heart that day. Quid pro quo, I suppose.

I remember this: you holding my hands, the sound of the rain, the smell of fresh-cut grass. Your hands holding mine, your eyes holding mine. The heartbeat and the rain.

"I want to give you something." Breath shallow. Heart pounding rain pounding I saw nothing but you as you said this.

"What?"

You were trembling. You leaned over and I knew and was so afraid and pleased all at once. You kissed me. It was sweet and timid.

Hands clasped eyes closed all I felt was your lips your mouth your heartbeat. Shh. Don't cry.

"Grace." I was trembling and crying and my hands held fast onto yours. "I'm sorry, Grace."

I whispered many nothings and told you not to be so foolish. I told you it wasn't your fault. The reason I was crying was because I didn't realize that a kiss could be good, that a boy could touch me again and it would be okay.

"I wanted just one of your memories of this place to be good, Grace." Young limbs hugging, hanging on for dear life and the rain, the rain, the rain.

That wasn't the last day that I saw you, but this is how I remember you, and always will. My only regret is that I have had no opportunity to thank you for giving back what was stolen by someone else - my sense of self, and the feeling that it would be okay again someday.

Thank you.

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