Shuffling through the school doors between a mass of backpacks, elbows and fat winter coats, he heard his name, “Xander! You’d better hurry; Mary is crying.”
Skirting the crowd, Xander bypassed the sidewalk and sprinted to their meeting place of the three trees where Mary stood snowcovered, headband askew and tears streaming down her red face.
Xander wrapped her in a hug and asked, “What happened little girl?”
“I slipped on the ice,” she sobbed, “and a big boy– a second grader– made fun of me.”
Brushing the snow off her coat, he took her hand, “Don’t worry, we’ll be home soon.”
As they walked, he smoothed the hair from her eyes and asked, “So what did this boy look like? Maybe I’ll go beat him up.”
And he wouldn’t beat anyone up, but his offer made Mary laugh out loud.
Because sometimes, all a girl needs is the knowledge that someone will protect her.