Dear little me,

I see you sitting there at the end of the block, huddled in the corner near Silver’s house.

I see your tears. I feel your clenched fists, your forehead pressing hard, hard onto your knees.

I sense your wish to disappear, and my heart aches for your fourth-grade despair.

I know it feels like you failed now. Remember that you didn’t.

A grade of 72% on a test is not a failure, far from it.

Tatty may be disappointed in you, but you’re not a failure.

You tried to run away from him, tried to run away from home, but you stopped at the corner.

I hear the bitter thoughts reverberating in your head: “I’m a failure even at this, I can’t run away from home properly, but at least they can’t see me here.”

You try to sink into nothingness, but the image keeps replaying in your mind: Tatty coming home, walking past you as you played on the sidewalk, only to come back out waving a paper that Mommy must have given him, saying, “I’m disappointed in you, Esther Shaindel. You can do better than this.”

You know he’s right, after all. You’ve never gotten below a 90 on a test before.

But you didn’t study for this Ivris test. You just hadn’t felt like it.

And you’d failed. You paid for your laziness, and you’d disappointed your parents.

But remember, little me – remember that you didn’t fail. Remember that you didn’t study at all, and you got a 72.

Yes, little me, you’re capable of so much more.

But little me, I wish you could hear me when I tell you: it’s okay to choose not to reach your full potential sometimes.

It’s okay to blow off studying for a fourth-grade Ivris test to play with your friends once in a while.

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