When I met Connor, I was five years old. I guess my family had grown tired of the city life, and decided to move out somewhere more open, with less people and more smelly animals. Not that I minded as a child, actually, I quite liked it. Every morning I’d sneak out of the house and into to the barn where horses – even those that weren’t actually ours – would usually still be asleep.
It was during one of those early outings, all alone, that I met him. He didn’t see me at first, just kept digging through hay, as though looking for something. Funny, I’d thought, that the horses didn’t seem to notice him, even though he was practically under their noses. I was a bit jealous, since the wild ones always backed up when I got that close.
When he finally turned around, I got a good look at his face. He was cute, not that it mattered at the time, since boys still had cooties. But he was, with big brown eyes, and shaggy blond hair. He even had a few freckles spread across his cheeks. His shirt was several sizes too large, and hung down on one side, exposing a body shoulder. I assumed he wore shorts underneath, but the shirt hung down low enough that I couldn’t tell. He didn’t have any shoes either, just a light gray sock covering his left foot.
Although he was standing not two feet from me, he still hadn’t noticed my presence. I remember fighting the urge to yell at him, or maybe throw something to get his attention. But I couldn’t, not without making too much noise and possibly waking my parents. Of course, as a child, I was more worried about getting in trouble than the fact that there was a – possibly homeless – child in our barn. So when he turned his back and ran outside, I could do nothing but watch.
When Connor met me, I was almost eight years old. Actually, it was the weekend before my birthday. Since everyone had school during the week, my parents decided to have my party the Saturday before. I remember the party like it was yesterday. At least twenty kids, running around, chasing animals, and stealing snacks from mom’s pantry.
I played along for a while, usually following whoever wasn’t being picked on by the others. I realize now just how cruel kids are, always bullying each other. And despite it being my party, I was still that unpopular, chubby kid. And even then I knew that most of them only came for the cake and games, not because the actually cared. I’m sure a few of them cared, a few probably even looked for me. But I didn’t care, I never cared. It was after one of the older kids, a boy named Trevor if I remember correctly, threw mud at my back, that I finally gave up on trying to fit in.
My room was near the back of the house, hidden away from everyone and everything. Apart from the barn – which I still visited in the mornings – it was my favorite place to be. My room wasn’t like most, it had more pillows and blankets than toys, and rather than picture books my shelves were always piled with sketch books. Not that I could draw, but I enjoyed trying.
I’ll never forget the feeling I got, when I opened the door to my bedroom, and found that someone was already inside. And not only where they in my room, they were going through my things! At first, the feeling was one of panic, which quickly changed into anger. How dare he! First everyone ignores me, then they bully me, and now there’re people going through my things?
I had yelled at him, told him to go away, and called him names that my parents would certainly not approve of. But then he turned around. And all of my anger melted away so fast it made me dizzy, and was replaced with a feeling that to this day I can’t explain.
Staring at me, with those big brown eyes, was the boy from the barn, still in his over-sized T-Shirt and single sock. I hadn’t even known his name, but his face had been permanently etched into my mind since that morning. He didn’t say anything at first, only stared at me in wonder.