28 May 2013


Dear Hartley,

This weekend I was so sad, and scared out of my mind, and putting up a fairly bad front, even by our standards. You made me get-well cards while I hid my face in a pillow and worried about the future, and then some time later we both curled up for a late-afternoon nap.

When we woke, our friend M came by and we all went to the playground for a picnic. There was a band in the bandstand, and even though they played for the benefit of a film crew filming a fairly uninspired playground scene, it provided a lovely atmosphere.

I watched you join in with a group of bigger children, who spun the roundabout you clung to so quickly it made my mouth go a little dry. But there was a girl with you who made it her mission to keep you safe, so I relaxed and enjoyed watching you smile and laugh and interact with her while the wheel spun out of control.

Later, my heart broke a little when it became evident that she’d tired of being your protector and began dodging your advances. You don’t yet understand the frivolity of friendships, particularly between boys and girls, but you knew that it felt bad, and that made you try doubly hard to win her back. While she sat posed on a bench (the film crew had drawn nearer), I watched you run to the green, crouch down for a moment, and run back with something clutched in your hand. I knew what you were doing, as you’ve done it for me countless times, and indeed, you handed her a tiny daisy, which she gracefully accepted.

The tenuousness of this encounter fills me with more dread than the sight of your figure clamped to a careening roundabout, because as much as it hurts to fall off playground equipment, the pain of rejection can take years to recover from, particularly if it keeps happening. I hope this will not happen to you too often. I know you’re a beautiful, friendly boy with good intentions. I hope you’ll always remain quietly confident, and that one day you’ll learn how to brush off your heart and keep going.

 I love you so much, and even if I don’t feel worth the weight of my words here any longer, I certainly think you’re worth all the words in the universe.

Love always,


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