Henry wiped his palms on his jeans a couple of times to clear the sweat. He slid the paper from off his desk and held it in his lap while the teacher was still teaching. It was secret. Very secret.
The better part of a week had been spent ditching cartoon time, basketball with his friends, and even a trip to the ice cream store when he brought home good grades at the end of first semester. Being in the third grade, it was his first time getting real grades – which were all good – but it didn’t matter. Henry only had two things on his mind recently.
The time had come. Sure, he had brought the mandatory cards and treats for all the other students in class, but he had a special surprise for Jennifer. In a matter of minutes it would be time for lunch. He had it all planned.
“Okay everybody, put your books inside your desk and go to your cubby and get your lunch bags,” the teacher said. There was a flurry of activity. Henry tried to remain calm.
He walked slow, maneuvering to be the last to leave the class. Holding his lunch sack, Henry watched as the class lined up for the door.
“If you are the last one out Henry, be sure to turn the light out and close the door,” the teacher said.
Pacing himself past Jennifer’s desk, he slipped the note inside; not too far in where she couldn’t see it. Taking a deep breath, he turned off the light and closed the door.
Thirty minutes later from the back of the line in the hallway, he watched everyone hustle into class, still rambunctious from the lunchroom chatter. He failed to spot Jennifer, who was towards the front of the line and had already gone back into the room. As much as he wanted to watch her open it, he would be too embarrassed. It was better if he lingered behind to give her time to find it.
Once inside, he made his way to his desk, head down. Why was his heart pounding?
“Okay everyone,” the teacher started, “get your books back out and open back to the same page.”
Henry reached inside for his book. When he pulled it out a piece of paper fell to the floor. It looked just like his note to Jennifer. Maybe he waited outside too long. Maybe she already found his note, read it, replied, and stuck it back in his desk.
He wiped his palms on his jeans, again, slowly opened the note, started to read and then…stopped. Confused, he looked down at the note again:
It must have been a joke. One of his friends must have seen him writing his note to Jennifer and was playing a prank.
He took a breath and slowly turned to look at Jennifer. She was looking right at him, holding his note. Henry couldn’t breath.
Finally, she smiled the smile he had grown to love and nodded her head, then giggled a little. Henry felt like he would explode. She then pointed to him, or at the note he was holding, and seemed to want a response. She had left the note for him.
Henry looked away, back toward the front of the room, and gave a quick nod, blushing.