They had never been lovers, were barely friends, and he could count on one hand the number of times they had touched. He still felt deep in his bones, and lightly across his skin and hair, every one of those moments. If he closed his eyes, he could relive them all. The first time, when he had said or done something, he couldn’t exactly remember what, her eyes had lit up the way he imagined newborn stars would, the change from dark indifference to the powerful, blazing expression of life and attentiveness so abrupt and affecting that it was, paradoxically, almost imperceptible. She had reached out to him, impulsively, and given him one of the light embraces with which young girls so often express unexpected pleasure, careless of their potential force and investing in them, or so they think, only transient meaning. That first time was for him still the most powerful. The hairs on the back of his neck had stood at attention, and the whole of his consciousness briefly settled, and then became painfully focused, on those few square inches of his bare skin as it was kissed by her naked forearm. He was not too young to understand the weight of that experience; when she released him his lower lip hung slack, and for a brief moment he was outside of himself. He saw with a kind of double vision, as though his consciousness had taken a quarter-step to the right, was somehow almost, but not quite, in the same space as his body. Very quickly the world, his backpack, the linoleum floor, his locker, all snapped back into focus. He went back to what he was doing, back to his life, which was the same, but which would never be the same again, and the sense of being both inside and outside his body would stay with him for the rest of his life, climbing occasionally from some older, reptilian part of his brain to confront him whenever, by chance, they would meet on the street, in a café, at the grocery store. Was this what love felt like? He decided, then and there, that it had to be.