I first met Stephen one summer when my best friend, the twins, had gone on vacation. I was in our driveway, feeling abandoned, when I saw a boy standing across the street. I’d never had a friend who was a boy before (I think I was about 9 at the time), but he was just standing there, also alone. So I screwed up my nerves and said to him “Do you have anyone to play with?”
He shook his head no.
“Would you like to play with me?” I asked, expecting rejection.
To my surprise, he said “Yes!” and ran over and grabbed my hand, leading me towards his house.
Introverted and nervous as I was, I remembered that I should know the name of the boy I was playing with.
“What’s your name?” I asked as we ran towards his house.
“Stephen” he said.
“I’m Lisa” I told him as we reached his home. We entered his kitchen, and an elderly woman was standing there.
“This is Mrs. Hawkins” he told me, and then told her “This is my friend Lisa.” He led me to his room, and the first things I saw inside were Trixie Belden books. I loved Trixie Belden books and collected them myself, so I knew that even though Stephen was a boy, he was a kindred spirit. He also had Hardy Boys books, the masculine counterpart to the Nancy Drew and Bobbsey Twins books I collected. Trixie was my favorite, though, because she wasn’t perfect like Nancy and the Bobbseys, and I could identify with her.