She wore layers. I don't just mean her clothes, though she was well layered up in those. She'd come out in a hat, a backpack, an undershirt, an over-shirt, jeans, socks, shoes, and to cover it all, a giant flannelette top that wrapped around her like a hug; and then under all of that she hid the layers of her true self. When she talked, it was a whisper. When she laughed, her mouth quirked upwards and opened in a quiet huff of air.
Six months in, she was starting to thaw. A layer dropped -- her backpack fell from her shoulders and crumpled at her feet. At the same time, she started to talk. It wasn't much of a change, just a slight increase in volume, and a tendency to verbalise a little more frequently; but I noticed it all the same.
Another three months and the hat came off. That day, I heard a real laugh peel out of her. It echoed in my head that night when I showered, and my thoughts started to change. I'd written her off before -- she was too small, too quiet, too innocent, too pr