She had three dogs at home and they were all of the large variety and the perpetually sniffing and fumbling and slobbering demeanor. They lived indoors and they slept on the couches, and one of them would reach over and rest his head on her lap and fall asleep as she watched cartoons after school. He was old enough not to stir when she fidgeted on the couch or got up for a snack. His name was Walden.

I remember that she owned a black turtleneck; not becoming on a girl of her age or mindset, but more importantly, faded with multiple washings and covered with Walden's hair. We could see that other things were things were wrong, quite clearly, like her wretched teeth and broken hair, but we could have written her off for that alone. We were no longer young enough to love unconditionally and would not learn to fake it for many more years. We circled under the jungle gym and did dirty-word Mad Libs and primitive Truth or Dare - though we were not then creative enough to make either interesting.

She grew, eventually, into the turtleneck; not that she took up bad poetry and cloves as an occupation like a lot of geeks do. She found a happy way of existing with us without touching any of us or saying any of the pretty things inside her.

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