“Sally!” Kassandra exclaimed, running happily up to her friend.
“Hi Kassandra,” Sally responded with considerably more restraint as Kassandra nearly crushed her with a hug.
“Come on,” said Kassandra suddenly, letting go of Sally. “I want to show you my new teddy bear.”
“Is it soft?” Sally asked.
“Yeah, come poke it,” Kassandra replied.
As the two of them ran off, they were dimly aware of their parents talking to each other and closing the door behind them.
When they reached the living room, Kassandra picked up a teddy bear from the couch. “Here he is!”
Sally patted him a bit “He’s so… fluffy! I like him.”
Kassandra’s mom and Sally’s dad came in and sat on the couch behind them.
“You can hold him,” Kassandra said.
“It’s nice of you to share,” Kassandra’s mom put in.
“I love him,” Sally said, stroking the teddy bear gently.
“Yeah,” Kassandra agreed. “But can we do something now?”
“What do you wanna do?” Sally wondered.
“I can share something else,” Kassandra suggested with a glance towards her mom.
“That would be nice,” her mom answered.
“What else do you share, Kassandra?”
Was the girl’s happy response.
“I’m sorry, what?” asked Sally’s dad.
Kassandra’s mom laughed and buried her face in her hands.
Kassandra ran off to her room and quickly returned with a small plush toy that looked a bit like a flower.
“That’s herpes?” Sally’s dad wondered blankly.
Sally’s mom shook her head. “It’s one of those… GIANTmicrobes, I think they’re called. Toy versions of cells and viruses and things.”
“Who gets herpes for an eight-year-old?” Sally’s dad inquired.
“Don’t you want me to share herpes?” Kassandra asked innocently.
“I should tell her, shouldn’t I?” Kassandra’s mom sighed.
“You should tell her,” Sally’s dad agreed.
“Okay, Kassandra,” she began, “when two people love each other very much, or not very much, or—”
Sally’s dad interjected. “…But it can wait until after I take Sally home.”