Adalynne sat on her wooden swing, twisting her new white shoes into the dirt beneath her feet. Tears dripped from her cheeks and she watched as they disappeared into the fabric of her dress, leaving tiny dark spots on the material. The ropes of the swing creaked loudly with every sway as she gently pushed it back and forth.
“Why are you crying?”
Adalynne looked up through a veil of perfect blonde curls. A boy close to her age was standing in the line of trees backing onto her property. His voice was so quiet that she thought at first it might have been the breeze. His unkempt dark hair fell over his eyes in dark waves. His knees were visible through his ripped pants and his shirt was adorned with a monster truck with its tongue hanging out. It was a sight that brought a smile to her lips despite her tears.
Adalynne wiped her face with the back on her hand and studied the boy. “Where did you come from?” she asked, looking around to see if anyone else was in his company.
“I live through that way.” He pointed into the dense trees behind them. “I heard you crying while I was playing in the woods,” the boy explained, looking nervous.
“It’s my birthday today and I wanted to wear my favorite dress with pink and blue stripes but my mom made me wear this yellow dress and it scratches my skin,” she confessed sadly.
Adalynne slipped off the swing and closed the distance between them. The boy took a hesitant step back with her approach. “What’s your name?” she asked curiously. He didn’t answer her question but instead looked behind him, anxious and ready to flee. “Don’t go,” she pleaded.
The boy stood frozen, watching her intently. Adalynne moved slowly out of fear she would scare him away. She had never seen eyes like his. The color green they exhibited was vibrant and breathtaking, putting the foliage around them to shame. It made her think of her bright green crayon that she had used earlier to color the leaves of her trees. He was so beautiful and quiet she thought he might be her imagination. She smiled big and bright, letting him know she wanted to be his friend.
When she was close enough she reached out and took his hand to confirm he was real. His hand trembled beneath her fingers as she held it gently. “My name is Adalynne,” she said softly. He looked back at her with wide eyes. Not even a hint of a smile on his lips. “It’s my mother’s name too.” She found herself talking out of fear he would leave if she didn’t keep his interest. “It’s probably why she wants me to be just like her.” Though he remained quiet he seemed to be interested in her words. “Sometimes I wonder if I had another name it would be different and I wouldn’t have to wear uncomfortable clothes, and she would just let me be me and have fun.”
“You want a different name?” he whispered. He seemed puzzled by her, as if she were a strange creature that mysteriously washed up on shore, his curiosity keeping him captivated.
“Yes! I would love another name.” Adalynne reached out and took his other hand in hers as well. He looked down at his hands tightly clasped in hers.
“What would you want your name to be?” he asked.
Adalynne giggled. “Hmmm…” She pondered the thought. The idea of picking her own name excited her. She watched a bee hover over some nearby flowers and her smile deepened. “Bee,” she responded happily. “Because then I could wear stripes all the time and play in the flowers whenever I wanted.”
He smiled back at her then. It was simply beautiful. “What would you choose?” she asked happily, her tears forgotten now. He shrugged his shoulders and slowly tried to pull his hand from hers but Adalynne was scared to let him go. There was something different about this boy that drew her to him. “How about…” Adalynne thought about what was befitting of the boy in front of her. She remembered when she was playing in her backyard and saw a fox peeking through the trees. It left as quickly as it came without a sound. She never told her mother for fear she wouldn’t let her play outside anymore. “Fox?” He could be her secret fox.
Adalynne grew excited with her suggestion. “You remind me of a fox because you are quick, quiet and…beautiful.” The smile fell from her lips. “You don’t like it?”
“No…I do…I like it,” he responded with a small smile, bringing her own back to life.
“I like you,” she confessed.
“Adalynne!” She turned back toward her house when she heard her mother call her name. The boy pulled his hands from hers and retreated back into the woods as quiet as he came. It felt like he took a piece of her with him when he left. Her sadness returned as she walked toward her mother’s call.