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From the Writer's Desk This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

On Anita's desk, 12/15, 6:06 p.m.:
About 35 blank, folded printer-paper cards with names written in the corners with light pencil; statistics, history, and biology textbooks nearly hidden by the cards; a calendar marking today as the first day of winter vacation; a half-full cup of oolong tea, lukewarm; a list of people who have shown Anita new perspectives, made her laugh, or stopped her from doing something unimaginably embarrassing in the past year.

On Anita's desk, 12/17, 3:12 p.m.:
Eraser shavings and broken pencil tips; the aforementioned printer-paper cards on which there are now pencil-sketched ­characters ranging from Davy Jones to Mulan to a sleepy-looking panda; a worn, incomplete box of 64 Crayola crayons; the remains of a ginger snap, baked by Anita and her sister earlier that day; a shopping list that includes postage stamps, envelopes, and Cheerios.

On Anita's desk, 12/19, 9:34 a.m.:
An explosion of crayon fragments, smudgy papers, and waxy, colorful homemade holiday cards; a list of addresses, some of them copied onto envelopes; a page of stamps, the kind that do not require licking; three nice gel pens lined up in preparation for the next few days; a bowl, formerly holding Cheerios, that Anita forgot to load into the dishwasher.

On Anita's desk, 12/21, 11:57 p.m.:
Cards with almost-dry ink comics, raps, and poems inside, along with a brief thank-you message; one card with a dinosaur on the front bears a slam-poetry-style calculus verse: “Ben's a good kid and wants to stay alive/Instead of makin' MADD mad, he'll think and derive/Never panicked on group quizzes, calmed Anita's nerves/Now we're friends even closer than tangent lines on curves.”

On Anita's desk, 12/23/10, 6:09 a.m.:
Forlorn, unused envelopes and stamps; all the cards have disappeared to a mailbox outside, weathering the sharp raindrops in a tin shelter as Anita dances back across the street, up the stairs, and through the front door in a whirl of contentment, exhaustion, and ink-stained fingers; the desk is mostly empty.

On Anita's desk, 12/28, 8:19 p.m.:
A cell phone (which Anita rarely answers), its screen glowing comfortingly in the quiet house, playing voice messages:

“Hey, Anita. Hope winter break is going great for you too. Thanks for the card. I loved the history jokes; you know me too well. See you soon!”

“I tried to write a rap for you, but I decided it might not be as good as yours, so let me just say you are the coolest kid ever.”

“Anita, your card reminds me of how we spent our study-group time drawing fish … I wonder why? Thanks.”

On Anita's desk, 12/28, 8:21 p.m.:
Anita's arms, propping up her chin as she stares dreamily at the pink-and-green wallpaper, reassured that at least some generosity has been recycled and spread farther in the form of grins, silly poems read aloud, and printer-paper-and-crayon cards displayed on the mantelpiece.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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