They were in first grade when they met. He’s surprised that they didn’t meet sooner, since their parents were friends, but he only realized that years later.
They were in first grade, and his parents told him that they were going to visit old friends of theirs. He didn’t meet her right away. She was cleaning her room, the man- Cory- explained. So he sat, and he waited, and he listened. The woman with the funny name- he liked Topanga, it was weird like his- told his parents that she was pregnant, and his parents were happy. Farkle didn’t understand; his parents didn’t like having one kid, why would they be happy for someone having two? Later he understood that they were happy that their friends were happy.
Then he saw a little girl, and his world stopped. She was either a princess or an angel, he decided. She looked like she was as tall as him, with soft looking hair and a pretty white and blue dress with polka dots.
“There you are, Riley!” Topanga smiled, when her daughter stepped into the room.
Riley, he thought. A pretty name. Not as pretty as her, but nothing was.
He looked up, and she was standing in front of him.
“Hi, I’m Riley. Do you want to watch Anastasia with me?” She asked.
“Hi Riley, I’m Farkle. What’s Anastasia?”
Her jaw dropped, “it’s my favourite movie! Everyone calls it a Disney movie but it’s not, but it’s still really good! Mommy, can me and Farkly watch Anastasia?”
Topanga nodded, putting the movie in for them.
“Can I sit with you?” Riley asked, looking at the armchair, big enough for two kids.
He nodded and she climbed up. Sometime during the previews, her head ended up on his shoulder, her hair ticking his neck.
“That tickles,” he told her.
She giggled, her entire face lit up and Farkle fell in love. He decided right then that it was his favourite sound in the world.
He hasn’t heard her laugh since the ski lodge, since Lucas chose Maya. Well, not her real laugh. He thought he might be the only one who could tell the difference between her real laugh and her fake laugh.
The last time he heard her real laugh was on the bus. Riley and Farkle both wanted to sleep, so Smackle switched with Riley to sit next to Zay.
As it had since they first met, Riley’s head found its way to Farkle’s shoulder. Her hair was as soft, and pretty, and as ticklish as when they were in first grade.
“That still tickles,” he teased.
She giggled, and he felt something loosen around his heart. She hadn’t giggled much since Texas, and he was glad that he was the one who could make her.
That was the last time she laughed, he thought, as they sat on the bus home. She had sat down next to him, curled up in his lap, and fallen asleep. He ran a hand through her hair, his other arm wrapped around her to keep her safe, trying to offer her whatever comfort he could. He knew that she didn’t love Lucas anymore, but he knew that still hurt. That she thought she wasn’t good enough.
It was then, one fall day of freshman year, that he vowed to do whatever it took to make her giggle again.