When Kaitlin walked into her 3rd grade class, she immediately noticed the differences between the room and her 2nd grade classroom back in New York. The first thing she noticed was the bright colors of the sun that entered the room from the wall of windows right next to her desk. The second thing Kaitlin noticed was the decorated walls around her. They were filled with desired jobs drawn by the Kindergarteners who occupied the room just two hours before. There were drawings of astronauts and firefighters with the occasional inanimate object mixed in the bunch. The final thing that Kaitlin noticed was this boy staring at her. She immediately looked away to avoid eye contact. The first thing the teacher had the students do is write their name in cursive on a nametag to tape to their desk. When Kaitlin was done she looked up from her desk and found that same boy standing right in front of her. “What do you want?” she asked bluntly.
“My mom says I need to talk to the new kids in school because they’re new,” The boy answered dryly. “I’m Matthew.”
“I’m Kaitlin.” She said still a tad confused by the situation.
“You do cursive good.”
“I like you.” Matthew said, looking anywhere but her face.
“I know,” Kaitlin rolled her eyes. She had heard this before. Many times actually, over the last two years. She had heard it from him. She had heard from other snickering boys while he hid behind. She read it on notes. She smelled it on the cookies he baked her. “But I don’t like you.” Kaitlin looked back down at her desk and started finishing her homework in cursive. Kaitlin made eye contact with Matthew, hoping to get complimented about her cursive once more.
“You really do have the finest cursive anyone has ever seen.” Matthew smiled at her with the same dorky smile from 3rd grade. Some things never change.
“It’s been 4 years Matthew, when are you going to stop flirting?” Kaitlin rejected him… again.
“I’ll always be here! You’re the love of my life!” He responded without thinking.
“We’re not even in High School yet, you don’t love me”
“I get it, you’re scared! What if I say I like you? Is that scary still?”
“Matthew, I’m not scared. I just don’t feel the same way about you. I like Nick.” She responded matter of factly.
Matthew rolled his eyes and groaned, “All the girls like Nick! Just because he smoked weed once…”
“It isn’t the weed! He really funny! You’re just jealous because all the girls like him and no one likes you.” Kaitlin said it and immediately felt a sharp pain. Even she knew that saying something like that was a little far.
Matthew froze for a second. He didn’t know what to say to that. “I… I’m… not jealous that all the girls like him. I’m jealous that you like him…”
“That’s just the way it is Matthew. If you like me so much, don’t you want me to be happy?”
“Of course, but he won’t make you happy. Be happy with me!”
Kaitlin groaned and buried her face in her hands. She spoke through her hands “It’s been 4 years Matthew, why are you so persistent?”
“What does everyone call me?” Matthew asked.
“Uh, what do you mean?”
“In class, if someone wants to get my attention, what do they call me?” He clarified.
“Everyone calls you Matt.” Kaitlin answered as she lifted her head up from her hands.
“Not everyone calls me Matt. You don’t.”
“Well that’s because I know you prefer Matth-” She stopped realizing what he was about to say.
“That is why I’m so persistent.”
“So you’re going to date him.” Matthew stated as he looked up at Kaitlin next to him.
“I’m already dating him.” Kaitlin corrected. She sat down next to him at the lunch tables. “I’m sorry. You really are one of my closest friends. You were the first friend I ever made here!”
“He’s not going to make you happy.” Matthew said as he itched his beanie.
“Matthew! Don’t say that. Why can’t you just be happy for me?”
“Why can’t YOU just say that you love me back? Even as a friend?”
“I don’t say it because I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.”
Matthew itched his beanie again. “Well I didn’t get the wrong idea. Mission accomplished.”
“Why do you keep scratching your head? Do you have lice again?” Kaitlin giggled.
“No! I don’t have lice!”
“Sheesh, then why is your head itchy?”
“Hmm okay.” Kaitlin swiped the beanie off before Matthew could do anything. Underneath the beanie, there were no lice. In fact, there wasn’t even hair. “Matthew, why are you bald?”
“Can you please just tell me you love me?” Matthew asked.
“I can’t do that.” Kaitlin said again.
“Why not? Please?”
“I’ll be able to die happy if you just tell me you love me once!”
“Well maybe in the next 70 years we are live I’ll tell you one of these times. It’s just not going to happen today.”
“You’ve really ruined my life.” Matthew got up from the lunch tables and stormed off.
“Stop being so dramatic!” Kaitlin shouted at him while he walked away.
Kaitlin looked around frantically for room 108. Why is this school so freaking huge? She thought to herself as she scurried through the halls. She eventually found the classroom and entered right on time. She examined her surroundings. Matthew isn’t my class? Wow, the one time I need him. Kaitlin laughed to herself at the irony. She assumed she would find him at lunch. At the end of class she ripped out a piece of paper and wrote down a little message she had to get to him. At lunch she searched the halls and found nothing. Not even a glimpse of Matthew. She saw a few people she knew and converse with them a bit. They asked Kaitlin how her summer was and Kaitlin of course responded with “good.” even though that was the farthest from the truth. In all the time that she knew him, Matthew had ever missed a day of school so Kaitlin grew worried. She went to her next class and sat down. She couldn’t get the thought out of her head that something was wrong. Kaitlin folded up the message and put it in her pocket. Near the end of the day, a man walked into the classroom and whispered something in the teacher’s ear. In response, the teacher looked down at her seating chart and concluded by pointing right at Kaitlin. The man asked Kaitlin to come with him and he sat her down in a cold metal chair. The point was chipping off of the legs of the chair. She looked up and saw one singular light that made the cramped office slightly brighter.
“I have some bad news.” The man started. Kaitlin zoned out as she heard words that forever changed her life. She had no idea what to do so all she could do was run. She got up and ran straight out the door. Sprinted down the hall. As she turned the corner a piece of paper flew out of her pocket. The message unfolded as it landed on the ground. It read “I like you, too.” In the finest cursive anyone had ever seen.