An Excerpt: What's In Your Heart

  |  May 27, 2013
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Chapter 1

THE NOTE STARED at me from my cluttered desk. It was sitting on top of a pile of unread essays and unopened journals. But it was right there, on a hot pink Post-it. My hot pink Post-it.

I was here. Just wanted to say hi.

I quickly tore it from the pile, crumpled it up, and tossed it into the trash can by my feet. I didn't need any reminders. He wasn't just here a few moments ago, he was always here. Wherever I was, he was there.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't shake him from my thoughts. Take the paper I was just reading a few hours ago on how to catch a guy's eye. The first suggestion was, "Just be yourself." I wanted to take my red pen and slash a huge X across it. Not just because I thought the topic was stupid and pointless and totally inappropriate for a junior high school research paper—which it totally was. But because that wasn't how I caught Gabe's attention. I didn't even know what kind of girl I was back then, but I know I didn't get what I wanted by being her. She definitely wasn't the girl who got Gabe to call her up and ask her out.

"Nat, how are you doing with the research papers? Remember, I need to give them back tomorrow."

My back immediately stiffened, all thoughts of Gabe quickly flying out the faculty room window. It was Mrs. Ruiz, the head of the English department. She was tasked to mentor me as I completed my
internship at a private all-girls high school.

It didn't make sense for a girl who was terrified of public speaking to go into teaching. I mean, you had to speak in front of thirty or forty kids every single day. But my adviser thought it might be something I'd be interested in since, sadly, there was nothing else that grabbed me—and the internship slots were filling up fast. He also told me that it wouldn't be the same as delivering a report in class because these were children I'd be facing—not my judgmental peers—and I would know so much more than they did. At the very least, I would direct the lesson and they'd have to follow. This buoyed me up a bit and when I imagined standing in front of a bunch of five-year-olds who were singing along with me and clapping their chubby little hands to the music, I felt a flicker of hope. Maybe this was actually something I could do. Then I was mercilessly thrown into a den of high school girls. All of a sudden, I sorely missed my judgmental peers.


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