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

     I was eight years old when the first love of my life passed away.

His name was Jesse Jordan and he was 75 years old. Would have been 76 a few months later, but no matter. He xloved me like a daughter, a granddaughter; he loved me in a way that an eight-year-old mind cannot comprehend and to this day I feel robbed of being able to return his gift.

Walking into Mrs. B’s second-grade classroom that Valentine’s Day morning, I was a blond-haired child with no scars to my name. I had barely sat down and begun to put periods and commas where needed on my paper when my parents appeared in the doorway. Well, let me tell you, nothing is more exciting than getting to leave school after only serving five minutes. What eight-year-old would have recognized the utter devastation on their faces in light of the fact that it was Valentine’s Day and Valentine’s Day means joy and hearts and cards?

I practically bounded out of Mrs. B’s classroom, but thinking back now, she looked awfully sad. I held my father’s hand and continued bobbing down the cavernous hallway, backpack and curls bouncing behind me. We got my brother and my father walked us to the basketball courts. He sat us down on the bench and told us we needed to talk.

I don’t remember what I was thinking. I don’t even know if I was thinking anything at all.

The love of my life died when I was only eight years old.

I instantly reached for my father and cried into his neck. No matter how rusty my memory gets, I will still see my father as I jumped for him, my arms outstretched, framing his grief-stricken face the instant before my eyes shut and my mouth stretched open in a gut-wrenching sob.

The purpose of my writing this is not to depress.

The purpose is that I can only remember two times in my life ever being told I was beautiful and actually believing it.

I was six years old. The only thing rounder than my face were my enormous green eyes. I was spoiled rotten, Dottie and Jesse made sure of that.

I made them buy me the most expensive swimsuit I could find. It was green and pink and extra frilly. (Hey, I was six.) I remember how amazing it looked on the mannequin and I wanted to look just like that.

I remember putting it on and running to the mirror. I was so disappointed at what I saw that all three feet of me ran and hid behind Jesse’s huge chair.

Jesse went looking for me and when he found me said, “What are you doing under there, girl?”

Sobbing little me hid my face and whispered, “I’m too fat, Jesse.”

Jesse looked at me and said, “Hell, baby, who are you?”

I didn’t reply.

“Summer, who are you?”

My tear-stained face looked up at him and I said, “Jesse’s girl.”

“That’s right, baby, and you are beautiful.”

That was good enough for six-year-old me. I climbed out of my safe haven and ran around the apartment complex in that swimsuit, and I did so with pride.

There have only been two times I believed someone who told me I was beautiful, and Jesse, well, he died when I was only eight years old.

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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Lily">This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jan. 11 at 4:04 am
i love this so much!
SunShineSparkle said...
Apr. 21, 2010 at 1:27 pm
this is so sweet, and jesse trully was a great person, i can tell.
jules16 said...
Mar. 14, 2010 at 10:50 pm
now this is good. I lovee it. props to youu. its extremely well written
CaseyLeigh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 8, 2009 at 10:02 pm
I love the opening of this story, and also how the ending ties back into the intro. Well done!
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