Be Somebody

I’ve known there’s a book in me since the fourth grade. That’s when my teacher, Miss Smith, removed her cat-eyed glasses and used them to point at me.
            “Dana, this is excellent writing.”
            She came toward me, my homework bunched in her hand. Knelt beside my desk and smoothed the pages. As she underlined various words and phrases with her pointer finger, I inhaled her fragrance—flowers and fruit. Strawberries maybe. I want to be just like you when I grow up, Miss Smith. For real.
            She drew a red circle around an adjective. “Mark my words, sweetheart,” she said. “Any fourth grader who uses the word bloodcurdling is destined to be a writer some day.”
            She wrapped my shoulders with her firm, young arm. Leaned her weight into me. It felt awkward and warm, all at once. I shut my eyes tight. Do it again. Please, do it again. Instead she rose, smoothed her jumper, and returned to the front of the room. Resumed grading papers. I sat a little taller in my seat.
            An hour later Corrine Hunt lost her lunch—cheesy beefy mac and chocolate milk—on the desk behind me. Got some in my hair. Even that didn’t burst my bubble. Mrs. Smith thought I’d be something someday.

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