((A/N: This is my relationship with Ron,some ofthe major memories I have of us, told from his point of view. I wonder how accurate I am... Anyway. I cried as I wrote this.))

If I tried, I could probably remember the first time I saw Laurie. The way she looked a little scared of me, thought I was insane. I could probably remember what she was wearing, or what she said. And if I tried, I could remember the way I thought she was shy. One of those girls who rarely spoke. I could recall how my opinion of her changed, how I called her home a few months later to tell her mother what a good student she was.

I could remember the way she did her journal entries. She tried to be amusing, and in her sixth-grade way, she was, I suppose.

I could remember how much work Laurie put into her mythology project, the way she wrote her paper on the pros and cons of capitalism and her essay on the conflicts in the movie Amadeus. I could envision the hopeful look in her eyes when she asked me if I liked the hutspot she made for her European food project. I'm sure if I thought really hard, I could even recall that conversation we had alone that same day in the staffroom, where I asked Laurie where her real father was, since her mother was getting remarried. I could remember that look when she told me matter-of-factly that she hadn't seen him in three years, that last she heard, he was on drugs on the street somewhere. There was no sadness in the way she said it. It was as if she were reporting on the weather. I apologized, and she just shrugged. I dropped the subject.

I could remember the way, at a parent-teacher conference, she was upset because I told her she was missing a test. It turned out that I had graded it, given her a good grade, and forgotten to write it down. My fault, of course. I'm a bit scatterbrained at times.

I could remember the way, when I was out of school having oral surgery – nothing major, just something to fix my receding gums – she sent me an animated get-well card. At that same conference, I made sure to tell her mother how sweet ofLaurie I thought that was.

I could remember the way, on the last day of school that year, I gave a speech to Laurie's class about how they were my favorite of all my classes that year – which was true. They were an advanced class, a smart group. I borrowed bits of Bilbo Baggins' farewell speech from Lord of the Rings to amuse them, "slipping up" and calling them Hobbits once or twice. Very out of character for me, I got a little choked up toward the end. After I finished and turned on the Harry Potter movie for the kids, I thought I saw tears in her eyes, too. I could remember the way later that day, she asked if I'd stand for a picture with her. I put my arm around her and leaned toward her. I felt her stiffen, but not as if she were uncomfortable – just surprised. I signed her yearbook, and we parted for the summer.

I could remember, a week before the following school year began, I ran into her on campus. I shook her hand and hugged her. It was a bit awkward because at the time she was still under five feet tall, so I had to bend over quite a bit. The guy who would become her science teacher walked up. I bragged for awhile about what a good student she was, then mentioned her tendency to send emails and then get peeved if you didn't respond to them. I could recall the way she sent me an email, telling me I embarrassed her, and how I responded: telling her I wouldn't embarrass her if I didn't esteem her so highly.

I could remember the day in late November...it was pouring, and Laurie was on her way from one of the parking lot trailers to her final period. She always had so many books – I felt like asking her why she didn't use her locker. Anyway, she waved at me, then was on her way out the back door of the sixth grade building when a group of guys ran straight into her, knocking her on her ass, books flying everywhere. They laughed and were about to keep walking when I stopped them.

"A gentleman would not push past a lady to get through the door," I said firmly. "Further, they would not laugh at said lady's misfortune. Apologize."

They mumbled an apology I knew they didn't feel as I knelt to help her pick up her textbooks and binder. "Sorry about that." I gave her a smile. She thanked me as I handed the now-muddy books to her and helped her up. "I'm gonna be late," she said apologetically, then ran off out the door.

And I'm sure if I thought for a moment, I could remember when, a few months later, in February, I was at the theatre department's production of a play entitled "Romeo, Juliet, and Hamlet, Too," taking pictures for the yearbook. A girl I didn't know came up to me and asked me if I knew LaurieApparently they were friends. I said I did, and asked if she was angry with me again. (Laurie tended to get mad because I never showed at any of the choral concerts she invited me to. I didn't like coming to evening events at the school because I lived over half an hour away. I was only at the play to fill a page in the yearbook.) The friend told me that, no, Laurie wasn't mad at me...but did I know she had had a crush on me since sixth grade?

Well. This was certainly news to me. I felt sure I was blushing and made some inane comment, rushing off.

A few days later, she sent me an email. Apparently the friend was a habitual liar, and she wanted to know if "my friend told you something regarding me you really didn't need to know?" I chuckled, and replied, telling her that her friend had talked to me, her friend had a big mouth, I was flattered, and she was one of the sweetest girls I'd ever taught.

Then came Laurie's eighth grade year. I suppose I remember her applying to join the yearbook staff. Her application was very well-done, and her application letter and letters of recommendation solidified my decision. A few days later, when I posted the list, I came outside my classroom to find her staring at the list in surprise as if she didn't think she'd actually make it, presumably because of her friend's revelation. As soon as she saw me, she turned to me, beaming from ear to ear. "Good morning!" she said, exceedingly cheerfully. I rubbed my forehead. I had not yet had my third cup of coffee, and therefore it was far too early for anyone that cheerful. I gave her a halfhearted wave. As she exited the sixth grade building, I thought I caught her doing something suspiciously like a victory dance.

Somewhere in my memory are the meetings. Whenever the rep from the publishing company would come by, it would always put Laurie in a sour mood. Perhaps because Brenda was late-twenties, blonde, trim...and I consequently sat or stood next to her when she made an appearance. Those were the only daysLaurie didn't say goodbye to me at the end of themeeting.

I don't know if I could forget the look in her eyes when I told her I looked pretty, or I liked her necklace, or the yearbook page she was working on looked good (especially if she and another person on Layout Staff were feuding about how it should look.)

I don't think I'll forget the look in her eyes – reflected in her computer monitor – that day I ran my fingers through her hair. Apparently she normally didn't like people touching her hair, but when she saw it was me, she waited until she thought I couldn't see her to grin.

I know I won't forget that day in late February. The books were ready to go to print. Because of upgrades to the software, we finished more than a month earlier than we had the previous year. This didn't escape her. I overheard her tearfully whispering to her friend that she had only joined yearbook to spend time with me, and if she'd known it would only last for barely a semester, she wouldn't have bothered. I put a hand on her shoulder as she used the sleeve of her shirt to scrub away her tears under her glasses. "Are you okay?"

"Yes. Fine." Lying through her teeth, she was. I didn't push it. Another girl on staff went over to her and told her to stop blubbering, she was making an idiot of herself. I wanted to say something. I did. But I bit my lip.

The member of Layout staff who always made fun of her, a guy named Jonathan (very intelligent, but a little cruel), came up to her and asked in a mocking voice what was wrong. In a loud whisper, obviously hoping I wouldn't hear, she forced out "Go. To. Hell." I pretended not to hear her.

I ordered pizzas for the kids. Laurie was the only one who didn't have any.

Later, she came up to me. I was working on a video clip for my military history class on my laptop. "Mr. Jones?" She said softly. I took a deep breath and turned around. She bit her lip. "I... When I said before that I was okay. I'm not. But... because of what's wrong... I can't talk to you. Does that make sense?"

I closed my eyes. Anything not to see how red hers were. "I think I understand. Thank you for your discretion." She nodded and hurried off. I felt bad, and put on the radio – the local country station. I remembered Laurie saying once that she liked country. I looked over at her to see her crying again, mouthing the words to the song that was playing – "I love you this much, and I'm waitin' on you, to make up your mind, do you love me too? However long it takes, I'll never give it up – no matter what....I love you this much."

She left early. One of her friends mentioned to another that she'd gone to dampen a paper towel with cold water to hold on her eyes so her mother wouldn't see she'd been crying.

One last thing I can't forget. Two days before the last day of school, after school, Laurie was waiting with some other people for her mother to pick her up. She saw me coming, gave me a wave – as if it were any other day. That was the last time we saw each other.

The following day, the eighth graders graduated. I checked my box that morning at ten to seven, as I did every day. On top was a plain white envelope, my name written in cursive.

I only knew one student who wrote in cursive by choice.

I put the envelope in a desk drawer and tried not to think about it.

I finally opened it right before I left that afternoon, after all the students had gone. She wrote me a three-page long goodbye letter, saying how she was too much of a coward to tell me goodbye in person. She thanked me and said she was sorry. She signed it "Laurie," and added a postscript noting that I was the only person who had ever called her that. (Her given name was Lauren.) Included were five or six poems. Not particularly good ones, but all the same...I couldn't remember anyone ever writing me poetry before.

Since then, she's used her friend as a messenger to speak with me. She sent me a tape for my birthday on which she told me a bit about how she was doing in highschool and sang (not very well) several songs that reminded her of me. She's even sent me a couple of emails. I haven't responded.

See, I could remember all these things. However, the difference between Laurie and I is that she tries to remember. She doesn't want to forget. She won't let it go.

Conversely, I try to push things to the back of my mind. I don't like breaking hearts. This was the first in a long time. I felt like such a bastard for making her cry.

She told me on several occasions – well, wrote me or recorded to me on tape, never in person – that she loved me. What's sad is, she probably thinks she does. After what she told me that day about her father, I think maybe that's why she was attracted to me. That's my opinion. Well, that coupled with the fact that almost every guy in her grade made fun of her. She wasn't what you'd call popular.

I'm hoping that if I keep ignoring her, maybe she'll get the point. She'll find someone eventually.

Laurie's a good girl. She'll be okay.

"I've tried so hard to tell myself that you're gone, but though you're still with me, I've been alone all along."