I saw her, last summer, when visiting my dad. When I was hiding from everyone who wanted to see me but my father, who has always managed to hold me aloft. And who deserved my time then, and the time of his grandson, because his time is much more limited than that of mine, or anyone else I might choose to associate with.

She was at work. At Wal-mart. Behind the deli counter. No longer a girl. A woman. My brain had aged her somewhat, to avoid the uncomfortableness of a woman past 25 longing for a girl she'd known when they were both sixteen.

I aged her wrong. I'd thought of her face, worried about the lines that the life she'd chosen would wear, her bright eyes losing their flare. I hadn't thought of her body at all, because as much lust was mixed with our love, for me, it was always love first and foremost.

Her face was so much the same it stunned me. I wondered if I'd stepped through a portal when I entered the store, stepped back in time ten years.

As we talked, while she served other customers, I saw I hadn't. Her hair was different, neither her natural brown or the Black No. 1 she'd dyed it later. It was platinum-grey. It made her look like some sort of fairy. It was beautiful, even pulled back and tucked up under a net.

Her body was no longer quite as thin, more flesh on her hips, thighs, bust, arms. My brain instantly reminded me how teenage girl's bodies always freaked me out, so I suppose those changes would be nothing but positive.

If she'd accepted my number. Or given me hers. If she'd accepted my email. If she weren't still so terrified of her husband, or of losing him (I've never been able to tell which, and both options hurt in different ways) that she refuses to associate with someone he told her to stop associating with over a decade ago.

She's still a massive tease. She told me she still has those boots. There's nothing good for me in her. I've got to let her go.