A Note for Emma by Charlotte
Gregory stared down at the sheet of paper, writhing in frustration. The page was nearly blank, except for two words that stood.
He was angered not by the paper itself, but by his barren mind. He had to fill the paper with some words of kindness before Friday—Valentine’s Day. It was Thursday night.
Every year, all the kid’s at Gregory’s school have to write notes for a randomly chosen student, telling them about what they liked best about them. Last year in fourth grade he’d gotten Lucy Jones, someone he didn’t even know very well. This year was different, though. He knew Emma very well.
Gregory and Emma had been best friends since kindergarten, when Gregory slipped on the icy playground on a cold January day, and Emma offered to walk him to the nurse’s office. From there they did everything together. They both collected baseball cards, they both did gymnastics, and they both liked to swing as high as they could until the teachers screamed that they would break their necks.
Finally, believing his muse had abandoned him forever, he tossed down his pencil and went in search of his parents. He walked down the stairs and into the living room.
There, his mother sat, crying as she watched television. Gregory wasn’t surprised—she did this very often.
“What’s on now, Mom?” Gregory asked. Judging by the amount of tears she was shedding (not too little, but not too much) it was most likely a romantic movie.
“Oh, it’s just the same old movie I always watch this time of year,” she explained. “But I can never get over it.”
Gregory stood and observed the television. It was a guy and a girl, both dressed up in formal clothing. They were sitting on a park bench.
“I want you to know that you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met,” the man said. “You’re also incredibly smart, smarter than Albert Einstein himself. Your laugh could make the most bitter person crack a smile, and my gosh you mean the world to me.”
At that moment Gregory’s mother let out another pathetic sob.
Gregory, however, felt a light bulb shine above his head. He charged upstairs once again, an idea taking over his mind. What the man said in the movie was pure genius. Gregory had to put it on paper before he forgot it.
I want you to know that you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met. You’re also incredibly smart, smarter than Albert Einstein himself. Your laugh could make the most bitter person crack a smile, and my gosh, you mean the world to me.
Gregory was beaming by the time he had finished. He rushed downstairs once again to show his mom and dad.
By that point, his mother was completely sobbing. Gregory decided not to bother her, and instead run it by his father.
He bounded into their backyard, where the sun had already set. He walked towards the bright light coming from the backyard shed. That was where his father did his woodworking.
Gregory never thought of his father as someone who was good with words, but in order to get someone as sentimental as his mother to love him, he must have had some talent.
“Dad?” Gregory struggled to shout over the noise of his father hammering. “Dad, can I talk to you?”
The hammering ceased and a reply came. “Sure, son. C’mon in.”
Gregory walked in, careful that his bare feet didn’t step on any fallen nails.
“I wanted to ask you about a letter I wrote,” Gregory said.
His dad sniffed. “Was it that letter to Emma you kept holding off?”
“Yeah,” Gregory said. “But it’s done now! Check it out!”
Gregory passed his father the note, and his father read through it with a straight face. But that didn’t deter Gregory, because he knew his father always did that, even with his favorite books.
“What do you think?” Gregory inquired eagerly.
His father looked him in the eye. “Son, it’s an awful nice sentiment, but I think you ought to rewrite your letter.”
Gregory couldn’t believe it. “What? Why?”
The father sighed. “Why don’t you sit on the bench with me and we’ll talk it out.”
Gregory did as his father said.
“You’d say Emma is one of your best friends, right?” his father asked.
“I can see why. This is some pretty strong stuff you said. ‘Smarter than Albert Einstein himself.’ That’s quite out there. But would you say it’s true?”
Gregory hesitated. “No,” he finally mumbled.
He nodded. “Then don’t go telling her she is. A fake compliment is worse than a sincere insult, in my book.”
“Then what do I do?” Gregory asked, getting frustrated. “I don’t know what to tell her! And if I write nothing she’ll think I hate her!”
“Tell her what she is,” his father explained. “What is she to you? What do you really like about her?”
Gregory was reminded of the baseball cars, gymnastics, and the swings. From there he also remembered the times they’d played board games together, and raced around Emma’s family’s farm. It was then that he realized he didn’t like Emma for how she looked, or even how smart she was. He liked Emma for the friendship they had, and for all the memories they’d made.
“Kiddo, you’re zoning out on me,” his father said with a chuckle.
“Sorry, Dad,” he apologized. “And thanks. I think I know what to write.”
Gregory returned to his desk once again, throwing out his last letter. He took out a new sheet of paper and wrote the simplest, yet most meaningful letter he could ever write.
You’re a good friend. And in my book, that makes you more important than Albert Einstein himself.