Love Through the Grades

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When we were in kindergarten I threw my chicken nuggets at her from across the cafeteria and I told her she had a fat nose because I thought she was the most beautiful person I'd ever seen.

When we were in first grade I squeezed a tube of plum purple paint into her auburn locks and informed her that the purple was much prettier than her hair ever could be, because I thought the auburn shine of her hair glowed prettier than the angels.

When we were in second grade we went on a field trip to a nearby beach. While we were there I snatched a sea shell from her hand and held it to my ear before telling her that the ocean thought she was stupid, because I didn't have the nerves to tell her her blue eyes made my heart swim.

When we were in third grade, I stuck gummy worms up my nose and chased her around the play ground until she tripped and skinned her knee. I just wanted to hear her laugh.

When we were in the fourth grade I told her best friend Em that she had kissed Em's brother, so Em would stop hanging out with her. After all, I hated it when she spent time with anyone other than me.

When we were in the fifth grade I pushed her to the ground and jeered that it was a good thing the ground caught her fall because she would never be able to catch any guys, all because I got so jealous when she talked with the other boys.

When we were in the sixth grade I wrote NERD in huge red, chalk letters across her locker because I wanted her to come talk to me so badly.

When we were in the seventh grade I laughed and called her fat in front of her friends, because I thought she was easily ten times more gorgeous than any of them.

When we were in the eight grade I kissed her step sister right in front of her, because I wanted her to feel jealous and empty as I did.

When we were in the ninth grade I asked her what a middle schooler like her was doing in our high school and then I watched her run away crying, because I thought maybe high school could be our new beginning.

When we were in tenth grade I blackmailed her with photos of her working at McDonald's, threatening to show the whole school how poor she was, if she didn't do my homework for me, all because I wanted her to tutor me.

When we were in the eleventh grade I dated every girl in school besides her, mocking her and telling her she'd never have a chance with me, because I finally realized I was in love with her.

When we were in the twelfth grade I never got a chance to tell her how much I loved her because she shot herself in the head one night mid-semester.

On graduation day, we became I and I was alone. I realized then what I had missed. I realized what I hadn't noticed.

In kindergarten I hadn't noticed how she had shown up every single day after I threw chicken nuggets at her with a bandaid covering her nose.

In the first grade I hadn't noticed the amount of hats she hid her lovely, auburn hair under after I lied and told her it was hideous.

In the second grade I didn't notice how she avoided the ocean and clung to our teacher's side for the rest of our field trip.

I'm the third grade I didn't notice how she had screamed and sobbed even before she scraped her knee because she hated worms.

In the fourth grade I didn't notice the pleading talks she had with Em and endless days she showed up to school with red-rimmed eyes.

In the fifth grade I didn't notice how she shyed away from boys after I shoved her to the ground, nor did I notice how she cowered away from me.

In the sixth grade I didn't notice how our classmates snickered and jeered at her after I chalked up her locker.

In seventh grade I didn't notice how her friends deserted her and how she began to bring nothing but salad for lunch every day.

In the eighth grade I didn't notice the fights she had with her step sister and the way her family began to break apart for the second time.

In the ninth grade I didn't notice when she started caking on makeup and dressing more skimpily because she wanted to fit in with the high schoolers.

In tenth grade I didn't notice how many times she fell asleep in class, exhausted from the late night work shifts she was forced to work in order to support her family.

In eleventh grade I didn't notice how much the other girls in school resented her and how lonely she was.

In twelfth grade I finally realized how much pain I was causing her, but I was too late and in the twelfth grade I lost her.

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