I got to know her in Year 9, the year I was cruelly bullied.

We started to sit together in science class. She saw something in me, a kindness she had not known enough. A friend.

She was a peculiar girl, a sad girl, a girl who stabbed pens into the palm of her hand, something I only came to understand later in my life. I tried to take the pen off her.

She dressed in black and hung around girls who dressed in black. I didn’t dress in black, but my life was black and my year was black. I had no friends. She invited me to come sit with her’s, but I never really took her up on that.

One day I came into class in tears. Some girls in my class swarmed around me like vultures, like journalists, girls who’d never taken an interest in me before now warm and fuzzy. Sara warned me to stay away from those girls. She could read people like she read the periodic table, pointing out the dangerous ones.

Sara never faked kindness. What she did fake was coldness. Behind her “stay away” vibe she loved passionately and she hurt passionately. Her heart went out to me that day, probably because she knew the territory all too well. She took me outside and we hugged and it was exactly what I needed in that moment.

I ended up leaving the school, which Sara never really forgave me for. We lost contact, much to my regret. A year ago I tried to befriend her on Facebook but she never responded.

I was kind to Sara and Sara was kind to me in return. I wonder where I’d be if I had of stayed, and sat where I belonged: with girls who dressed in black.