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At first, it was just always about Mrs. Nell. You know, how boring her class was, how her license to teach should be taken away from her, how she couldn’t do the homework because Mrs. Nell never taught anything. Stuff anyone who had her knew. It was pretty fun, ranting about how awful her class was. Then, we started writing more, and more personally, and it became a lot deeper. Sometimes she would talk about her family, her friends, sometimes it was her dog, Morty. Her classes, her favorite books, her boyfriend. Soon to be ex boyfriend, actually, according to her.
It was amusing, writing the secret notes. Neither of us knowing who the other was. Her notes were surprisingly interesting to read. And respond to. It was a lot of fun, the mystery and thrill to it. Waiting for the next note. It was something so secret and so shared, each of us being careful to tuck the piece of paper right back into the small nook under the desk where it was kept. It was so perfect, so miniscule and conspiratorial, that there was no doubt in our minds that no one would be able to find the notes. No teachers snatching it, no FBI agent peering at it through the camera in a computer.
It was the one thing that made history exciting, the single thread of joy that made Mrs. Nell’s class bearable. Reaching casually underneath the desk, making sure to avoid the rainbow of dried up gum, and finding the piece of paper. Sometimes there would be paragraphs, sometimes only a sentence. It really depended on how she was feeling. With her emotions being easily poured out onto the paper, it was easy to tell why she had only written a sentence one day, and a page the next.
They started to get longer.
Like the days, she had written. The pieces of paper got more and more wrinkly, less cared for, crumpled up and shoved under the hiding place. Some of her notes became harder to read, and even understand. Her handwriting became smudgy, messy, sporadic. Compared to how her notes started out, they got pretty...dark.
Last seen: Copley High School...
It was really concerning, actually. Her boyfriend...she never revealed who he was, but he was horrible. The things he did to her. Without even realizing it, most of the time. She would write paragraphs about him, desperate to tell someone. Anyone. He became the sole plot in our notes. It was really infuriating. The things she confessed...it could really drive someone to start a fight.
If only someone else had whimsically sat at the desk in the back left corner of room 307.
Things would be...different. Maybe better. No one can know for sure. Who knows how it all would have ended if the note passing never started in the first place? It might have been easier, not having this exciting, secret, pen-pal friendship with a girl who never even revealed her own name. It would hurt a lot less, after what happened.
Brown eyes, brown hair...
Towards the end, it got awful. Mrs. Nell didn’t even know who sat in the back left corner seat in one of her other classes, let alone a name.
“Just a girl with brown hair. Very quiet.” Nell had said.
She refused, too. Maybe she was just too in love with the idea of her secrecy, her concealed identity. A little too grateful for the blank slate she had, blinded by the possibility to tell someone about what was tearing her up inside. It was almost pitiful, me begging her to just confess her name, say who she was so we could meet in person. Three months of passing notes, and she never even said her name.
So mine remained obscure as well. At least up until the end.
Was it a mistake? Would it have been better to tell her sooner, or not at all?
It would have ended faster. It could have all been prevented. It was on a whim, a stupid whim, just like sitting sitting at the desk in the back left corner of room 307. Without thinking, without considering, I just wrote it.
She didn’t write back, after that.
NAME: Skylar Russey
WEIGHT: 106 LBS
LAST SEEN: Copley High School, Newtown, MO
***LAST SEEN WITH LIAM WILSON, BOYFRIEND