She was beautiful. Her short brown hair curled into her blue eyes, no matter how many times she brushed it away. Her laugh infected me. It seemed to bubble up from her stomach, as she fought to keep it inside, roll around her throat, then escape from her mouth and nose. Whenever she laughed, I couldn't stop myself from doing the same. Her deep breathy voice always incited a tingle in my finger tips and toes. A tingle I could never place.
She was my best friend.
I was thirteen the first time I fell in love. Puppy love. The innocent kind that leaves a sticky sweet taste in your mouth, your heart beating faster, ready for the real thing to happen next.
I adored Hannah. She adored me. But we carefully avoided close contact, sleep overs, moments alone, because of the way we felt. In a small town, loving a girl is not a thing to talk about. Even worse would be to actually commit to it. Unspoken between us was something neither of us understood. But something that both of us wanted desperately.
We were fifteen before we finally gave in.
It was close to midnight when I heard the knock at my window. Pulling back the curtain, there was Hannah, drenched from the rain. So wet that at first I didn't even notice her crying.
"I have to leave. We're moving. Some time next week. I don't want to go." She burst into tears again, sitting on my bed. I brought her dry clothes, listening to how her father had gotten the promotion he had been vying for, how the post was two states away. That within less than a week, they would all be gone.
Before I could stop myself, I cradled her face in my hands, and I kissed her lips softly. No pressure applied. Barely even a kiss. I didn't even close my eyes. Neither did she.
It was my first kiss.
I pulled back slowly. My hands still on her face. I smoothed her hair, the curls falling into her eyes yet again, and waited for a reaction.
"I love you. And I wish things were different." With those two sentences she returned my kiss. I struggled to make this moment last, remembering every detail as her mouth opened against mine. She was soft, and I wondered if I felt just as soft to her. I could taste her, her tongue swirling against mine, and I could feel myself wanting her more and more, pulling her closer and closer, as the kiss grew more intense.
But as with all good things, the end came.
We slept that night face to face, our arms thrown over each others' waists, knowing this would be all we would ever have. I said goodbye to her the following week with the rest of our class, and we never mentioned that night.
Forty years later, I sit here, still dreaming about that moment. I have never loved another girl since. And my husband buried in the backyard, along with my three children and seven grandchildren are a testament to that.
But I still miss her. And I will always love her.