VI.

In fourth grade, I got chicken pox. I was so, so sick. In and out of delirium for days. While I was sick, a classmate (and second cousin) died in a freak accident. My class found out while I was ill. They mourned and grieved together. I was at least partly outside of time, and time moved on without me. To process my pain, fear, loss, guilt, grief, and sorrow, I wrote a poem about him. One day after I was back, I shyly gave it, all folded up, to my teacher. He read it and cried. Then he had it printed on rainbow paper and put in a gold frame. At the school-wide assembly at the end of the year, I read it in front of everyone and gave it to my deceased classmate’s mother. I knew, irrevocably, I was a writer. I was also shy. Reading my poem in front of that many people was difficult and mortifying. It was also the only thing I needed to do, the only thing I wanted to do, and the only thing I could do. I would never not do it.