At the end of my first Friday, while I was mid-lecture, you asked me if I was going to the Happy Hour. I thought I deflected your question well; without missing a beat, I told you I didn’t know because I hadn’t heard about it. You didn’t get the rise you wanted out of me (though you’d get it hundreds of times after that).
You did your best work after school, sitting at the long table by my desk, one hand resting on my arm as you completed the assignment. Like you needed to anchor me next to you for that constant reassurance your answers were right.
Later, in the winter of your senior year, they shot you dead on your porch steps.
The human form of Olaf, come to life. You were short, round and glasses. Happy-go-lucky, you always wiggled your leg every time before you took your shot. The class buzzed on your energy, everyone waiting for your next cleverly humorous comment. You started a conversation about multiples, my shockingly relevant secrets growing inside me.
The next year, disheartened by your new teacher, you sought me out for help, looking for support. Unbeknownst to you, I throbbed with the pain of another miscarriage; you swaggered into my room, your crew in tow, to announce to my current students that they should cherish me.
You renamed Math Review Mathketball and wrote a rap about it in the last weeks of class. You were the quintessential sponge, lapping up my tricks and methods to make them your own. When the principal asked who considered herself a mathematician, your hand was a vertical shot in the dimly lit theatre. The girls around you giggled, and you turned around to catch me eye.
When my son was born, you sent me a bubbly email welcoming him to the world. I read it aloud to him as the summer sun burned across my house.