I think of you as a little girl, pigtails askew, blue eyes shining, freckles smattered across your cheeks like so many stars in the sky.
Stars you wished upon, reached for, dreamed of, gazed at, their crystalline brilliance that same brilliance that exploded within your heart many years later when he asked for your hand at the general store diner on a Friday night over salty french fries dipped in saccharine chocolate shakes, their sweetness a promise like the one he made. You could not only touch the stars but held them in your hand like diamonds glittering in wait of that perfect setting.
And I can’t help but remember years before at that same general store you, again, a little girl sitting outside in your mom’s ancient coupe blaring 80s songs—maybe Phil Collins or The Police—Casey Kasem counting down, yellow Gloria Vanderbilts tight on your thighs, rainbows on the butt matching your hopes as you bounced to the beat of the bass, windows down in the Florida heat.
When a white van pulled up, one of those you had been warned about and you thought were fake, and the man looked at you with sunken eyes and missing teeth, and said he had puppies in the back, did you want to see them, you screamed bloody murder, then ran quick as lightening, Nikes and heart pounding, into the store to tell your mom.
The man couldn’t reach you—you were too smart, too fast, no way could he catch you because you knew he was stranger danger—and you were safe, but you didn’t know, and wouldn’t know for many years, that stranger danger would be sleeping next to you at night, no white van, no warning, and the stranger would buy you diamonds and make you promises, and how could he be a stranger and still glitter, familiar and bright?