She looks calm, self-possessed. She is impeccably dressed, perfectly made-up, not a hair out of place. She walks, head held high with a confident stride, neither too short or too long.

It would be hard to put an age to her -- somewhere over thirty, certainly, but she is unlikely to have reached forty.

From time to time, she smiles and nods, pauses to greet an acquaintance, (of which, it seems she has many), or lifts a hand to wave.

She is the very picture of a serene, successful woman.

But, right under her surface, where no-one would see unless she was to show them, is a jittery, scared, seventeen-year-old girl, simultaneously excited, and terrified at the prospect she faces.

She keeps her head tilted slightly down to hide her secret. Not ready yet to reveal her vulnerability, not ready to expose herself.

She stops at the bus station, looks at her watch. Timed to perfection by the woman, so the girl won't have to wait. And, as she drops her hand, the bus pulls in. Her eyes search the mass of bodies retrieving their bags, and see him. He's really come. After a year, talking online, after phonecalls at midnight, after e-mails by the hundred, he is actually here.

She steps forward to meet him, as he climbs down the steps.

He stops in front of her, then, slowly, carefully puts down his bag, taking the hand she extends

"Hello Love," he says, and looks deep into her eyes.

He looks at the woman, but he sees the girl.

He smiles at what he sees, and her face lights up.

It's going to be alright.

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