I am in third grade. I'm wearing a pink dress, maybe. And blonde pigtails are popping out of the sides of my head, springing about as I move. And I'm moving a lot because I am jittery with excitement. I am eating a cupcake, also pink, with sprinkles. And there is punch. Red punch. And it tastes sticky and heavy and perfect.
I have a red mustache. But I do not care because I am in the third grade. All of the kids have red mustaches. Mrs. Nelson, my teacher with flipped-up dark hair, says You may open your valentines. I am very excited about my valentines. They are in a pink lunch bag with strips of paper for legs and arms, folded accordion-style. The legs boing, just like my pigtails.
I sort through the Valentines, but I do not open them. Yet. Some of them are fat, bulging with little pieces of candy. The bulgy Valentines are from the rich kids. I am not a rich kid. Right now I do not care about the bulgy ones.
I find the one I want.
I look up. Kevin is smiling at me as I hold his Valentine. Open it, he mouths from across the room.
My face feels hot. Is everybody watching me open my very special valentine? From Kevin, the cutest boy in the class?
No. Everyone is hollering and laughing and eating crunchy conversation hearts that say "I Do" and "Be Mine." I do not care for the taste of conversation hearts. But Mom showed me how to lick the back of the heart and stick it on my forehead, right between my eyes. That's pretty fun.
My hands are a little shaky. I smile at Kevin and look away real quick. Then I carefully open the Valentine. It is the shape of a bear. The bear is holding a heart. I turn it over. Kevin has written on the back.
Your Sweet. Y-O-U-R.
I blush. I look over at Kevin. He is smiling. I look down. At the Valentine.
I try not to think it. Don't think it, Dianne. Don't think it. But I do, anyway.
You're Sweet, Kevin. You are sweet. It's a contraction.
Well, it was fun while it lasted.