It occurred when she was least expecting it. Sitting in first period with her weary eyes half shut, it just happened. Love walked in and she fell silent. Love sat down at the desk next to her and she didn’t know what to say. Love made her nervous—she had never truly encountered it before. She kept her distance from Love for so long that one day Love wasn’t there sitting at that desk any longer. Love had moved on to the living room of a house party. She was there, too, sitting alone with a cup in her hand, smiling when the cameras came near. She couldn’t help but want to go sit by Love, instead of in the dark corner. Although afraid, she longed for the slight warmth she felt in class when Love had walked in. As she got up to approach Love, she talked herself out of it. Thoughts swirling through her mind as she convinced herself that Love wasn’t warm like she thought Love was, Love never sat by her on purpose. She moved back toward the corner and hovered at the beer keg, feeling accepted there.

Just when she thought she had lost Love, Love appeared in the phone booth where she called her boyfriend crying; he had cheated on her again. She pushed Love out of the phone booth as she begged her boyfriend to take her back, as she helplessly tried to convince him that she was worth loving, although she didn’t believe it herself. She saw Love behind herself in the reflection of the mirror while she stared into her empty eyes, sucking in her gut until she felt pretty. Everywhere she turned Love was waiting and she couldn’t escape any longer.

She couldn’t fight off the embrace of Love when she stepped into the counselor’s office and heard the words, “You are worth loving.” Love was holding her when she left her boyfriend and dried her tears. Love was pulling her along as she traded in her what-once-felt-like-home corner of the party for a place standing next to her friends. Love spoon-fed her a full meal and she ate it, and she ate until she felt full. As she walked into class, she sat down next to someone she had never noticed before. They looked up at her with sunken eyes that felt all too familiar. She smiled on the inside, Love welling up inside of her. She couldn’t wait to show them what Love felt like to her.

—By Macey B., 17, Seattle