She was the new girl at school. My friends and I were wandering around talking, when we saw her. She sat very still with her knees up, her back against a tree. It was a bright summer day in early June, and we wore our summer school uniforms, a cotton dress made of blue and white check, with a white collar. She had non-descript brown hair, deep-set dark eyes, and pale skin that showed off the lemony freckles sprinkled over her nose. Her nose was an odd shape. It kind of stuck up at the end. Was she stuck up? I went over to see.
“What are you doing?” I said, standing in front of her.
She looked up. “I’m cogitating.”
She waved her arms. “Oh, thinking…you know…”
“What are you thinking about?”
She ducked her head. “Nothing,” she mumbled.
“Why don’t you come down with us?” I said, pointing to an area nearer to the school building where there was a paved patio with raised beds of flowers.
“I don’t think I should.”
“I just don’t think so.”
My friends Judy and Claire stared also.
“Look at her,” I finally said. “Look at her nostrils. They go in and out.”
And indeed she looked like a highly-strung horse. What was there to be afraid of?
“Come on,” said Judy reaching out her hand. “You can come with me. I’ll hold your hand. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
The girl looked at her and her face relaxed. “Okay,” she said, getting up and dusting herself off. “I’ll come.”