November 18, 1948
Dear Diary –
I’m SOOOOO confused. I’ve stopped reading my Archie comic books and I don’t care about
Henry Aldrich anymore, either. Oh, I saw the movie “Joan of Ark” and it was pretty good
but all I want to do is listen to Ted Malone read love poetry on the radio..
And today was the worst day of my entire life.
I’ve tried to tell Mom how I feel about the LOVE OF MY LIFE but she doesn’t take me
seriously. Like the other night, for instance:
Mom was fixing the hem of my tartan plaid skirt and listening to Les Brown and his
Band of Renowned on the radio. That’s her favorite show next to the Saturday night Hit
Parade with Gizelle Mackenzie and Frank Sinatra.
I said, “Mom, I’ve been thinking that I’d like to quit school and get married.”
She bit her bottom lip to keep from laughing and said, “Well, that’s fine, honey, but I’m not
sure Knapp’s Department Store has a bridal gown department for 12-year-olds. But we can
find out. Let’s go shopping tomorrow!”
Then she got up, kissed me goodnight and went to bed!!!! Just like that! I could hear her
laughing going down the hall.
Well, anyway, I first started writing about Mr. Heart Throb a few months ago when this nifty,
handsome marine came walking up the sidewalk at school one afternoon and I almost fell
out the window looking at him in that spiffy marine uniform. I mean, I fell in love THAT
MINUTE and haven’t stopped swooning since.
He was Major Edmund Burke, U.S. Marine Corps!!! He’d just been honorably discharged
from the service. Mrs. Collins had to quit teaching our 7th grade English class because she
was getting old and kept forgetting to come to school, so he was hired to take her place.
I started filling spiral notebooks with poems about Major Burke, our love and marriage,
the new house we would buy and the 4 perfect children we would have. Our boys would
look just like him with deep blue eyes and black curly hair like all Irishmen have.
I had to hide the notebooks because one day my pain-in-the-neck little brother found them
and recited part of a poem at supper one night. My family thought he was SOOOOO cute
and funny! He wasn’t.
Anyway, today Major Burke was at the blackboard diagramming sentences with all those lines
for subject and predicate and stuff. As usual I was writing a poem about him. I don’t pay
attention on purpose because that way I get to stay after school for “personal tutoring.”
Other kids stay, too, but I pretend I’m the only one.
So, I’d just finished my poem and closed my notebook when burr-in-my-saddle, Kenny Henson,
reached across the aisle and grabbed my notebook. He started reading my latest poem and
snickering to himself while I was frantic trying to get it back.
Suddenly, Major Burke turned around and saw Kenny reading something. He said, “Kenneth,
since what you’ve written seems much more interesting that what I’m teaching, why don’t you
come to the front of the class and share it with all of us.”
You never saw Kenny move so fast! He leaped out of his seat and flew up there like Batman,
sooooo excited to be able to read my poem and embarrass me to death!
Then Kenny, “The Drama King” read out loud:
I’ve read a lot about true love
And how it comes from heaven above.
Though I am young, I hope you know,
Dear Major Burke, I love you so.
Then Kenny told the class who wrote it!!!!!
“That’s enough!” snapped Major Burke, but by then it was too late.
The class went nuts. I mean the boys were snorting and slapping their desk tops,
everyone was laughing and hooting and hollering and Marty Epstein actually
jumped up beside his desk and did a little happy dance.
Major Burke grabbed the notebook and put it in his desk drawer while I disappeared into a knot
hole in the wooden floor where I hoped to never be heard from again.
Just then the dismissal bell rang. Major Burke didn’t give the book back to me and I just know
he took it home to show it to his wife, “Mrs. Lucky-Dog-Burke” or whatever her name is.
Dear Diary, I need to know: Can a 12-year-old really die of a broken heart?
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