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Cootie Monsters This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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"Kym and Ryan sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" The taunts coming from the second-graders were more than I could handle. As I stood in the hallway of my elementary school, salty tears trickled down my bright red face. I couldn't believe my best friends had betrayed me and told everyone my horrible secret.

Every day during recess my friends and I would gather near the jungle gym and discuss typical second grade stuff.

"Did you know that Jimmy still wets his bed?" Kara announced.

"Ewww," we all yelled.

"I heard that Sam picks his nose and then he eats it!" Jamie giggled.

"Gross!"

Kara and Jamie were my best friends. I told them everything. Well, almost everything. In second grade it was unacceptable for a girl to like a "cootie monster" (a.k.a. a boy). Ryan Anderson had been the boy of my dreams since he pushed me into the mud in kindergarten. I had eyes for this blond-haired, blue-eyed, freckle-faced kid, but I couldn't tell my best friends for fear of public humiliation. For almost two years I withheld this information. Then, one day, I decided to tell them.

We sat in my room after school eating homemade chocolate-chip cookies.

"Hey guys, guess what," I said, "I like Ryan!"

"Ewwww!" Jamie shrieked. "You can't like a cootie monster!" I stared into her dark brown eyes and hoped she wouldn't tell any of our classmates.

"Promise not to tell anyone?" I begged in fear this information would ruin my life. They promised not to tell anyone and the discussion came to a close. I felt relieved I had told them, but also a little nervous that they might slip and tell.

The next day when I arrived at school, everyone was laughing at me.

"Kym, is it true that you like Ryan?" Amanda asked me.

"No! Why would I like him? He smells bad!"

"Well, Jamie said that you do." I felt my whole world shatter. I couldn't believe my friends would betray me like that.

"No! No! I don't like him! I hate him!" The entire class began to gather around me.

"Kym and Ryan sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!" They all sang and taunted. The yells and giggles were more than I could handle. I darted out of the classroom as fast as my little legs could carry me. When I got out to the hallway, I began to cry. I never wanted to go into that school again. I couldn't face the kids. I hated Jamie and Kara. And what would Ryan think? Just as these horrible thoughts began racing through my confused mind, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"Kym," said a familiar voice, "are you okay?" When I turned I saw none other than my crush of two years standing there.

"Why are you crying?" he asked. "If it's because of those nasty kids, forget about it."

"That's easy for you to say," I said, trying to wipe the tears from my face. "They aren't teasing you."

"Well, they are teasing my future wife." What? What had Ryan said? Had I heard him right? Did he say that we were going to get married?

"Come on," Ryan said, "let's go inside." I took Ryan's hand and we walked back into the classroom together.

After that day, Jamie, Kara and I never talked again. Ryan moved away the summer before third grade and I haven't heard from him since. The terrible laughter has faded almost completely. We've gone our separate ways, but I will never forget what happened to me that day when I was seven. But most of all, I will never forget Ryan and my first marriage proposal.

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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