Amber. Michelle’s best friend in the whole wide world, in that second grade class, who she trusts, because they pinky promised to stay by each other, always. They play hopscotch at recess, sit on top of the slide, and guess what the other is thinking.
“Ice cream?” Michelle guesses.
“Nope. But you're getting closer."
“I give up. Just tell me.”
“Sorry. Rules are rules.” Amber curls down the slide, then waits as Michelle spirals down to join her at the bottom.
“My Uncle Steven wants to take us somewhere today,” Amber says. The pink in her cheeks have faded into a pale grey like the clouds in the sky. “Do you want to come?”
“I thought we were going to watch movies at your house.” Michelle doesn’t like when plans change, because her mom doesn’t like when plans change.
“Come on. It’ll be fun.”
Michelle looks into Amber’s green eyes. Green like the ocean. Maybe they’re going to the beach, like her parents took her last week. That sounds like fun.
“Okay,” Michelle says. She gulps, but she doesn’t know why. Is she excited, or nervous? “But only if you tell me what you were thinking about.”
“Fine. I was thinking about...” Amber looks up, then back at her friend. “Vanilla ice cream.”
Uncle Steven steps out of the white van, one hand in his pocket, wearing a black shirt and blue pants. Michelle doesn’t really like how he looks, but doesn’t the man at church say something about accepting everyone? Even their sign. Or sin. What is a sin, anyway? And why does everyone at church feel bad? Is it the same bad feeling she has now, even though she doesn’t know why?
Uncle Steven crouches down.
“How are you girls doing?"
He places his hands on their shoulders.
Michelle doesn’t like being touched, but she stays silent while looking into Uncle Steven’s eyes, whose black pupils are unusually large and take up the entire iris, the light in them as small as pin drops. They are different. Maybe special.