I'd seen you twice before but you'd never noticed me—
the shy, timid girl hiding behind her father.
When you spoke to me for the first time I was trembling
with fear, praying you wouldn't glance my way.
But the soft tug on my pigtails and the goofy way you said
"would you still be scared if I held your hand?"
made me wish more than anything that I wasn't so weak.

I was petrified; you were the only one who could see it.
When I faked the stomach ache you gently went along—
"Want some Emergen-C? It's great! Pound three down and you'll feel
as good as new!"
I smiled weakly, feigning pain, but you saw the way my eyes
sparkled when your fingers brushed against mine. Yet I was
scared, so scared. Like the lion from the Wizard
of Oz—only I needed you to be my courage.

But I was so spineless, so gutless; I ran.
I ran and ran and ran and you tried to call me back.
"You're leaving?" you said, your tone whispering
I expected better from you.
"I feel sick," I pleaded but you wouldn't meet my eyes,
wouldn't say goodbye to the shy, timid girl.
So I ran, humiliation burning my stomach and
giving me the ache I had mimed.

You taught me that scorn brings shame, that those
two cold, unfeeling emotions are opposites,
just like you and me. You were so
disgusted that it felt like a physical slap to my face.
If you knew that I cried the entire way home, would you
look me in the eye again? If you knew that I nearly
cut my thumb to punish myself
(fear held me back)
would you smile at me, just one more time?

I hope when I meet you again
you'll remember the shy, timid girl
and teach her not to be afraid.