Jared with one “R," she still thinks about you and how you talked about the meaning of love on that playground eight years ago. "I don't know what it means," you told her, and you smiled beatifically and continued, "But that's OK, I'm not ready to know yet. Someday."

You weren’t something tangible, just a shadow on the asphalt with bruises up and down your arms, but you were beautiful and untouchable to her fourth grade mind.

She needs you to know that if ever she loved someone it was you, Jared, with the cowlick and the blue eyes that looked so beautiful, even when ringed in fading purple.

“I’m klutzy,” you told her.

“I can kiss your bruises and then they disappear like magic,” she replied.

If she could have one wish, Jared, she would go back in time and smooth your cowlick, say “you need to tell someone” and “I hate what he does to you” and “you can’t pretend forever.” And you would touch her wrist with one finger and say “I know.”

But you were gone before the year was over and she saw Mrs. Arwood crying, and oh god Jared, if you’re reading this she doesn’t know where you are but she misses you, and Jared, she's so sorry she kept your secret, and she's sorry she spelled your name with two “R”s on that valentine she wrote you, and she knows what love means now, and she's waiting to tell you if you're ready to know.

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