She usually stayed with her grandmother across the street from me. I never asked why. Children don't question these things. Sometimes her mother would come and take her away. Then, one day, she would be back. That's all.
Her name was Michelle, but I called her Mickey. She was springtime sunlight and the scent of apple blossoms. Smiles and laughter and sweet cut grass. Lemonade and clear blue skies. I loved her and she loved me. She was my best friend in the world back then.
We didn't dream we would grow up and get married. We didn't dream we would grow up at all. We were happy to play under the apple blossoms. We would spin ourselves dizzy and fall in the grass. We'd run past the rosebush alive with bees, around the old house and under the lilacs, to fall down in the yard once more.
Holding hands and watching the clouds, we were not at all in love. We were love. I loved her and she loved me. Ours was a love uncomplicated by expectation. We were happy just to be together. That's all.
We walked home from school hand in hand. It was our custom. It was uncomplicated by expectation. It was just what it seemed. Of course, we knew about boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, but we didn't dream of that for ourselves. We just loved each other. We were happy to be together. She was my best friend in the world.
One day we found ourselves surrounded by a curious group of big kids. Snickering, they began to question us. We answered them, all blue eyes and innocence.
Ooooh, is she your girlfriend?
Is he your boyfriend?
Do you love each other?
Well then, why don't you kiss?
We hadn't given that any thought before. We looked at each other. We thought that would be all right.
Mickey stepped up onto the curb to be a little taller. And we kissed under the apple blossoms. Not too quick, not too long: just a kiss between friends and love in spring. We were not embarrassed. We were not in love. We were love. It was the most natural thing in the world.
We looked at the big kids to see if they were satisfied. They stood there confused, as if they had not found what they were looking for; as if they did not understand what had happened. They broke up and walked off in twos and threes. We looked at each other, all blue eyes and innocence, wondering if all big kids were such fools. I took her hand and we walked home.
We didn't talk about it. Why would we? It was the most natural thing in the world: a kiss under the apple blossoms and love in spring.