there was a girl in your school, and people did not like her. she was just one of Those People. you and your friends would point at her and laugh. because she was that girl who wore baggy jeans and men's shirts and skate shoes. who picked at salads during lunch and spent third period in the school counselor's office. you never really knew her name; when you had to speak to her you called her Freak, and in your notebooks you referred to her as Tragedy.

in eighth grade Tragedy shaved her head. she used to have thick chestnut hair, her only redeeming quality, in your opinion. without it she looked strange and naked and vulnerable. her murky brown eyes seemed bigger, her nose longer, her lips fuller. sometimes you even thought she was kind of beautiful, in her own demented way, but you would never dream of admitting it. because she was Freak, and you were not allowed to compliment such a thing.

two years later Tragedy tried to kill herself. three weeks after that she returned to school with cold eyes. and she suddenly stopped being the Freak you were used to. instead of whispering and looking at the floor and accepting the laughter of your classmates, she fought back. she threw things at people who insulted her and yelled at teachers and once she stood up and walked out of your math class because the teacher said she would never make it anywhere.

in the april of your senior year, things were different. people were preparing to leave. to step into the shells of men and women, play pretend, dress up in their parents' business suits and forget the dreams of neverland. so on the third day of the month, you walked up to Tragedy and apologized for the past six or seven years. and she looked at you, her eyes suspicious, then shrugged and walked away without a word. that was the day you realized you had never seen her smile.

on may thirteenth - you will never forget the date - it began to rain just as school let out. you were walking home that day, because your car wouldn't start. you sighed and accepted it and began the cold trek through the downpour.

it happened on maple street - that's where you saw it. the most beautiful thing you had ever seen. it was Tragedy, her bookbag cast aside, her face tilted up to the sky, smiling radiantly. and as you watched, she began to dance ballet, gracefully, unbelievably. she let out a peal of ringing laughter, then caught sight of you. you immediately looked down, inexplicably ashamed to have been caught watching. but to your surprise, she didn't stop dancing, and she didn't glare or say anything at all. she simply smiled and continued to dance.

that day, you began to believe in love.