It started with him carrying her books partway home from school. She was 12, he was 13.  They lived in opposite directions from the school, he would walk her halfway home & then turn around & walk back, so his mother wouldn’t worry when he was late from school. Once his mother got used to him coming home a few minutes later, then he walked her all the way home from school to carry her books.
At first they just walked side by side, barely talking unless it was about school assignments. Then, even though it was awkward at first, they started talking about their families, vacation plans, teachers & other students. After a couple of weeks their hands would occasionally brush against each other as they walked & finally he took her hand in his. His hand was big & warm & she was pleasantly surprised when her fingers all but disappeared.

When they would get to her house they would sit on the back step for a few minutes & she would get him a glass of water for the long walk to his house.  They would hold hands sometimes but mostly they just rested in the shade.  Every day he started spending a few more minutes every day on the back step.  They had about a half hour before her younger sister would get home from school.  Then came the day when he asked to use the bathroom.

She was horribly uncomfortable, her parents had made her promise to never let anyone in the house when they were not home.  But how could she refuse him when he had such a long walk home?  So she let him in the house, but they came back outside right away.  Every day they spent a few minutes longer in the house.  After a few more weeks, he started asking for a kiss.  They were both so nervous, neither of them had ever kissed anyone before.  They did a lot of talking about it, every day, most of the walk home.

Finally they picked a day.  They were running out of time, summer vacation was coming up & they wouldn’t be seeing each other every day at school.  On the appointed day, they walked to her house more slowly than ever.  She was having second thoughts.  When they got to her house, they went through their normal routine.  It seemed too bright to her, it was a summer afternoon.  To help her feel more comfortable, they eventually found themselves in the coat closet.  They left the door open just a crack so they could see each other a little.

After a lot of talking, she finally gave in & they leaned toward each other.  His dry warm lips touched hers.  It felt very nice.  They didn’t move for almost a whole minute.  They moved apart again.  They went outside again & sat on the back step until it was time for him to leave.  Summer vacation started the next day, he went to summer camp & the next year they went to different schools.