If I ever get my fiction published, I will dedicate my first book to my seventh grade teacher. This is what the dedication will say:

To Mrs. Weigel, who gave me an award for a story I didn’t write.

Yeah, that story of mine that you gushed over, that earned me the only A+ I got that year, it wasn’t mine.  Oh, I didn’t copy it word for word, but the story came from the back of a puzzle box.

Every year my mom bought a new 1000 piece puzzle for us to complete over the annual two week shore vacation.  Something to do on rainy days I guess.  A part of the down-the-shore experience that she had inherited from her parents.  That summer the puzzle had been of a deep, dark jungle: palm trees and parrots and tropical fruit. On the back of the box there was a story about the picture.  I must have read it a dozen times over the course of that puzzle’s existence on the foldout table under the bay window that faced the ocean.

The story told of a Hawaiian style shirt that came alive at night while its owner slept.  I think the parrot might have flown around the guy’s bedroom and lost a feather or something.  I don’t actually remember it now.

But I knew the story well back then.  Well enough that when you handed out the mimeographed coloring book page of a jungle scene and told us to “Demonstrate your knowledge of the First Person Narrative” by writing a story about the picture (and color the picture for extra credit) I knew exactly what story to tell.

I wonder now if you made such a big deal over the story because it was the only decent thing I had ever done in your class and you felt like it was a good opportunity to let me shine.  You were everyone’s favorite teacher.  You were kind and affectionate and you were always fair.  I wonder now if you felt a little sorry for me, so much smaller than the other kids, smart, but totally uninterested in spelling, the rules of composition or memorizing poetry. I never really excelled at anything in your class.

You made such a fuss over that story that two things clicked in my brain.  First, that making up stories and writing them down can garner praise. And second, that someday I was going to write a story for real and show it to you in order to feel like I actually deserved that praise.

Well, it took me thirty odd years, and I don’t even know if you are still alive, but here it is, a real story, just for you.  I hope you like it as much as you liked the other one.

If you should ever stumble across this blog, Mrs. Weigel, I hope you read some of the fiction I have posted here.  All of it is a 100% my own creation, and all of it is for you.

Not this one – but you get the idea

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