Once upon a time, there was a girl named Avery. She went to this school. One day, she vanished, but it didn't matter because no one remembers her. No one except for me.

There was a girl named Avery. I swear it's true.

I don't remember what she was like. I guess she was quiet, because I never remember her saying a word. She just sat there at the desk in the back of the classroom, chewing on her pencil. Even back then, no one seemed to notice her. At least, I don't remember her having any particular friends. She must have had some, or someone would have noticed it, and shoved her into an unsuspecting lunch table, a weak seedling transplanted into foreign soil. Maybe they did, once upon a time, and that's when Avery vanished, but I doubt it, because no one else remembers her.

It's almost like she's a ghost, and only I can see her. Maybe she's still there, in that back desk with her pencil between her teeth, victim of a cruel world that swallows children whole. Because that was what Avery was: a child. I never got to see her grow up. She's frozen as a fuzzy memory of a girl in Mudd jeans and Oshkosh.

I don't know why I hold onto that fuzzy memory. Avery wasn't anyone important to me. We never talked. She wasn't a friend. Burt if I stop remembering her, she ceases to exist, and there's no coming back from that abyss.

Maybe, somewhere out there in this cruel world that swallows children whole, Avery sits at the back desk and puts down that much-abused pencil to think about me. Maybe she regrets not being here. Maybe she wonders whatever happened to me. Maybe I'm immortalized in blurry recollection somewhere, frozen before I even had a chance to live. Because if Avery can vanish off the face of the Earth, there's nothing to stop me from deteriorating into oblivion.

There was a girl named Avery. She was flesh and blood once, but now she's a ghost in the machine, and no one remembers her but me, and that is all that is necessary.