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A kid spends the school day writing a letter to their missing friend

Dear Tom,

You are not missing much. School is the same. I am supposed to be writing a poem about the fall and how magical it is, but poems just do not work for me. Ms. Soody said poems are magic falling from the sky. I disagree. Every time I think of a poem, the flashback hits me like a bee stinging my arm. I have to be quick and ice the sting.

Today we had PE. Everyone wants to play football. Why that game? I prefer baseball. You liked baseball too. Of course, no one cares about my opinions, so I don’t say anything. Recess is not any better, except that we don’t have to listen to anyone and we can just be ourselves. So, I stay by a tree and eat my lunch.

It starts to form again. The memory is so clear. The words are so precise. I couldn’t shake this one. It kept staying. The lake. The swing. The letter.

The bell rings and I start to head inside. I didn’t realize we were still doing poems. I hate poems. When will the day end? I have to begin a poem, so I’ll stop writing.

I look at the clock. The minutes feel like hours. When I am bored, I think everything is hours.

I’m back from the worst poem I have ever written. Luckily, it’s music now. I love music—the sound of each instrument being played. The piano is my favorite. Remember when we used to play together? The keys going up and down. Music is only thirty minutes, so I don’t have much time. Ms. Soody says we are the greatest class. I know she is just saying that and doesn’t mean it. She says it to all her classes. Whenever Ms. Soody says something, she starts to clear her throat. Like a frog is blocking her airway. I am pulling at my jacket as I listen. It is loose on my right arm. It is Sarah’s old jacket. I still like it anyway. Then it hits me: the jacket, the lake. I hate it.

I look at the clock. The minutes feel like hours. When I am bored, I think everything is hours. That is what my mom says.

It is math right now. I should be listening, but fractions are too easy. Ms. Soody does not know fractions are easy. So, I am sitting here writing to you. I wish you were here. I can still remember the day you left. How could I ever forget? The moment my head turned to the moment you read the letter. I could tell something was wrong.

Hold on, I better listen. Ms. Soody is saying something about free time. That means more time to write. Turns out free time is doing work you did not finish. I’ve got science that I haven’t finished. I’ll be back.

Water cycle. That is what we are learning. I thought you would want to know because science is your favorite subject. I feel like there is a circle, but half of it is missing because you are not here.

Bea Hertzmark
Bea Hertzmark, 10
Riverside, CT