Gayle Dickinson’s fifth-grade homeroom exchanged their Valentine’s Day cards. Though excited to receive one from Jason Russell, Emmy Chin sat puzzled as she tried to make out the meaning of his words. It looked as though it might be an invitation to a pool party, but she couldn’t be sure. Fearing Jason would think her too stupid to read his card, she took it to Miss Dickinson.
As he saw Emmy approach their teacher, Jason slumped in his seat. After seeing Miss Dickinson look up from his card to the back of the room where he sat, Jason looked inside his desk and began shuffling its contents. He stood and walked toward them upon hearing Miss Dickinson call his name. She held the card out to him and asked him to read it aloud.
“Why don’t we pool our resources?” read Jason.
“And just what do you mean by that, Mr. Russell?” asked Miss Dickinson.
“I…I was asking Emmy to marry me.”
The class erupted in howling laughter. Emmy went crimson and slunk toward her desk.
Jason began to shake before tearing the card from his teacher’s hand. She stared in disbelief at the deep paper cut on the fold of skin between her thumb and forefinger.
Some of the howls persisted while others turned to apprehensive silence as Miss Dickinson ran from the room holding her dripping hand.
Billie, the school’s nurse, cleaned off Gayle’s hand and bandaged it. “It’s pretty bad for a paper cut,” she said, “but you probably don’t need stitches.”
Gayle returned to her class where Mr. Engel, the principal, now presided. The students had their heads down on their desks. The room was quiet aside from the sobbing and choking sounds that could be heard from the back where Jason sat.
“Are you okay, Miss Dickinson?” asked Mr. Engel.
“Yes, I’ll be fine,” she assured him with a nod.
“What do we say, Class?” he asked the students.
“We’re sorry, Miss Dickinson,” came a slightly less than unified reply.
Jason’s sobbing became wailing shortly after Mr. Engel exited the room. The students stared at Miss Dickinson as she walked back toward Jason, captivated by what she might say to him.
She put her bandaged hand on Jason’s head and lovingly mussed his hair. Jason slowly looked up and met her gaze with somewhat wary eyes. Miss Dickinson looked over to Emmy and motioned with a nod of her head for her to join them. As Emmy approached, Miss Dickinson held out her free hand, into which Emmy placed her own. Miss Dickinson, in turn, placed Emmy’s hand into Jason’s.
“Now what do you say, Emmy?” asked Miss Dickinson.
“I do?” asked Emmy.
Gayle Dickinson sat in the front row of the groom’s side at the wedding of Jason Russell and Emily Chin some twelve years later. As vows were being exchanged, Jason looked over at Gayle with a tremendous grin. When it came time for Emily to say, “I do,” she also looked over at Gayle. Her look, however, was one of terror as Emily flung her flowers at her and fled the ceremony.
On the following February 14th, Miss Dickinson decided to forego having her class exchange cards, as she finally wearied of the blood on her hand.
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