The Love Note

“I love you” was all it said. It was written with a careful hand on red construction paper and cut out in the shape of a heart. Attached to the love note was a box of candy hearts. The message was in my locker, tucked in on top of my book bag. I stared at the thing for a while, not quite sure if what I was seeing was a prank or an actual note. Who wrote that?!  I immediately thought, slamming the locker door and pretending that I didn’t just see what I saw. I was 9. Boys were gross. Even if it was Valentine’s Day…
Later, after I told just about everyone I could get close enough to, I went back to the locker and took the red heart out. My best friend stood behind me in shocked amazement. So it WAS true! I opened the candy hearts and took a bite, remembering quite clearly that I hated that chalky candy, but doing my best to give the brand another shot (candy was candy, after all). I felt the “Be Mine” crunch between my teeth before making a face and offering the offending box to my best-y. “Here, you can have this.” I said, detaching the box from the note and handing it off. My girlfriend immediately began to devour the box.
“Who do you think wrote it, Natty?” She asked between bites. Each “Love U” and “Ur Special” loudly cracking in her mouth. 
“I don’t know.” I responded. I looked the note over for a sign, did I recognize the hand writing? I checked the hall for any suspicious glances, but my friend and I were the only ones there. I mentally filed through the boys I knew and wondered who would be capable of such daring bravery. Dan? Bryan? Caleb? Hmmm. Maybe Caleb. Or, maybe Stinky Rick. Ew. No one liked Stinky Rick ever since he peed himself in 3rd grade. 
“Ew. What if it’s Stinky Rick?” My Best Friend speculated. She laughed a cruel laugh. “Yeah! Maybe it’s him! Ha!” 
“It’s not Stinky Rick!” I snapped. I was annoyed. Why would anyone want to go and do a stupid thing like this? ugh. Boys are so gross. Boys are good to play tag with because they can run really fast, but otherwise I found them a plague. I put the heart into my backpack feeling it get crushed under my books. 
I never found out who wrote that red note. But it was the first time I ever came face to face with the idea that there was someone who had feelings for me. What a strange realization to have at 9. Prior to that I would hurl nasty globs of damp sand at boys and run, screaming, back to the “base” where all my girlfriends would hide out so we could plan our next attack. The only “boyfriend” I kept was a neighborhood kid I’d known since diapers. Having a “boyfriend” amongst my friends meant status and maturity I couldn’t afford to not have. I kissed him once on the lips because of a dare, and then decided to stick to glob throwing. 
Years later, as I write this, it just occurred to me that that note might have been written by a girl, too. Maybe it was a last minute thought someone had after they’d handed out all the cards and they dumped the last one into a random locker. I doubt that, but I still think about that note. 

August 9, 2012 at 3:25 am by Natalie Allen