“Love Notes” by Abigail Swire

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All I wanted was a note. It didn’t seem a lot to ask. It didn’t have to be perfect. It could be written in scribbles, like some nearly illegible clue. It could sail in on a fatal breeze folded into a paper airplane.It could be tucked into a locker, a backpack, a desk, this note that never came.

I remember almost everything before and after that first day of kindergarten. It was mid-year, after Christmas, because that’s when you start kids in school who are destined to have traumatic lives.

I remember my stupid outfit, and most of the names and faces of my classmates. After all, we would be stuck with each other for the next ten years. One of the twins took me under her wing. Karen and Kristen. Everyone got them confused because of the names and their identical outfits, but I didn’t understand it. They were paternal twins and had very distinctive qualities. It was Karen who showed me around. She was the friendly one.

In the midst of the introductions, we faced off on the battleground of the kindergarten room with two boys, a redhead with a fat face and a boy with black hair and blue eyes who was the most beautiful human thing I had ever seen.

“Don’t you hurt her,” Karen warned the boys.

“Don’t you hurt him,” the redhead said to me. 

The redhead was on my bus route. That first week he kicked me in the shin hard with his mountain boy boots. But he was the one who, before the year ended, ran across the room and planted a kiss on my cheek and ran away. The last I remember of Brad was ninth grade. By then I had forgiven the kick. He got sent home from school for wearing a shirt that said “Candy is good, but sex don’t rot teeth”, so who knows what kind of life he had at home.

Anyway, it was in the first few weeks after I started kindergarten when a lady from the office came to pull me out of class. I thought I was in trouble. I followed her into the principal’s office. The principal was female. These two women looked at me like they didn’t quite know what to do with me, like I might sprout wings and fly up in a corner. I waited.

It was just the Valentine’s Day party. Everyone was excited. I thought I was getting away with something but, no. The school had been notified that I was not allowed to participate due to religious reasons.

“Well, that’s ok. You can sit here,” the principal said. She put me at the corner vault with a little desk reserved for troublesome children. The office secretary brought me a napkin with a party cookie on it and a paper cup of punch. She looked at me with pity as she set it down.

“Here you go.”

I picked up the cookie, which fell apart. So I sat there and ate my crumbs with red sprinkles. Thus began my long journey to becoming a social pariah.

I used to check for a note from a secret admirer. I became obsessed with the idea of having a secret admirer. Other girls got notes in their desks, but my desk stayed neat and empty. I got a “Neat Desk Award” every month of fifth grade. Valentine’s Day in particular would have been a good time to get a note. Every year we made those heart shaped paper folders that were stapled together and hung them on the back of our chairs. No one came to pull me out of the party, but ever after I felt like an infiltrator, waiting for the authorities to appear at the door. I had one girl friend, Brigette. We were both untouchables when it came to other girls. Maybe because we were both tomboys or because we were quiet and artistic. We compared our valentines folders.

“Look at this one,” Brigette said with disgust. She slid her valentine over. It said “From a sicrit admire”.

I never had a secret admirer that I am aware of until I was 18. There were no notes. I got other kinds of notes, late night letters of remorse, apologies fueled by alcohol and cocaine. Most of the secret admirers I didn’t even know about until 10 or 15 years later when I heard it through the grapevine from the one guy friend I had left.

“You know so-and-so, right? Yah, he works in my office. He said he was gonna ask you out once, but he was too intimidated.”

By then it was nothing. I subconsciously blamed the secret admirers for being spineless. And, as for me, they could just catalogue me away with the rest of their wasted opportunities. It was up to me to be the person to give my world what it needed. To take the risks, where angels fear to tread, beyond the realm of cowards and unwritten letters. Now all I’ve got left are some petty words. That’s my song and dance. The dance is a private thing. So here’s a song. Not to myself or even necessarily as a gift to the world.

 

FROM A SICRIT ADMIRE:

“Don’t get me wrong

If I’m looking kind of dazzled

I see neon lights

Whenever you walk by

Don’t get me wrong

If you say, “hello”, and I take a ride

Upon a sea where the mystic moon

Is playing havoc with the tide

Don’t get me wrong

Don’t get me wrong

If I’m acting so distracted

I’m thinking about the fireworks

That go off when you smile

Don’t get me wrong

If I split like light refracted

I’m only off to wander

Across a moonlit mile”

~The Pretenders

 

Abigail Swire writes fiction and non-fiction. She served time as a journalist, mad scientist, and assembly line worker, among other things. Abigail has published articles and short stories for various media.She is currently working on her first novel, The Factory.

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