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Dear Amanda
Linnet Gary



     Amanda sat moodily on her bed, gazing silently around the room. Her glance fell upon her ancient desk. It had seen every act, had heard every thought expressed in the privacy and quiet of that dim attic room. Amanda noticed the bottom drawer of the desk sticking out. It looked like the pouting lip of an angry child. She got p and wandered slowly across the room, intending to close the drawer.
     As she neared the old desk, Amanda suddenly remembered something. She quickened her pace. Then she yanked open the stubborn drawer. Inside Amanda found the package of letters. It was tied with a piece of worn blue ribbon. Carefully she lifted the fragile pages from the mess of erasers, pencils, and old school papers. Then she worked impatiently at untying the tight knot.
     Amanda raised her head for a moment. As she did, she caught her reflection in the dusty mirror above the dresser right next to her bed. She noted with interest the unusual glitter in her gray eyes. She saw a spot of color in her pale cheeks.
     Amanda looked closely at the lifeless brown hair, which hung about her face what was wrong with it? She wondered. Unhappy with what she saw, she turned her attention to the bundle of letters clutched tightly in her hands. Shuttling herself in the chair at the desk, she switched on the bulb overhead. She wondered which letter to read first. She chose one written on pale blue note paper. Deep folds wrinkled its once smooth surface. A blurry spot marred the handwriting on the second page. Amanda unfolded the sheets, which were no longer crisp. She began to read:

Dear Amanda,
I just got home from practice, and thought Iíd write you a letter I canít talk to those guys on the team. Youíre the only one who listens and understands. Itís great to have a girl who listens the way you do. We studied poetry today in school. I really like the stuff, but we have to write some of our own for next week. You know for sure Iím no star when it comes to being creative, Mandy. I havenít got the talent you have for writing. You write such beautiful poetry; you ought to submit it to a magazine or something. I really mean it. Maybe you could give me a few tips. Iím so lost, and Iím positive you could help, since youÖ


     Amanda read on eagerly, losing herself in the precious letters. Uneasily, she remembered how her mother had scolded her about shutting herself up in her room to read. She knew her mother must think it silly for her to even get letters. The thought hurt Amanda, and she comforted herself by saying her mother just didnít understand. Maybe that was why she was always so cross. Amanda felt sure that was the reason. One letter in particular Amanda loved. It was by far the most worn of the collection. She opened it and held it closer to the light so that she could see the faded writing more clearly.

My dearest Amanda,
It has been a long time since I have time written you. Please forgive me, wonít you? I know you will. You are such a kind person. My sister dragged me along to go shopping with her last week. She asked me to help her pick out some clothes. I certainly wish that you had been along. I donít know much about girlís styles. You have such good taste. Things always look perfect on you. Sis finally picked out a blue dress. I couldnít help thinking how nice it would have looked with your hair. Really, Mandy, I think that youÖ


Amanda loved those lines at least someone thought that she looked pretty. Her mother always complained about how sloppy Amanda looked. ďAmanda, youíre not going to wear that dress, are you?Ē she always said. ďIt doesnít do a thing for you. Amanda, why donít you try to look a little more pleasant?Ē On and on she went that way, until Amanda angrily rushed back to her room. She told herself that her mother didnít really know what she was talking about. A sharp voice jolted Amanda from her deep thoughts. ďAmanda! Just exactly what are you doing up there? Iíve been calling you for the last fifteen minutes. I want you to come down here immediately. Do you hear me? Amanda?Ē Amanda didnít answer. She didnít want to break the wonderful spell of the letters. Then, hearing loud footsteps on the stairs, she quickly shuffled together the sheets of wrinkled paper. Her mother bust into the room. An angry expression clouded her face. ďAmanda! I thought I told you to get rid of those silly things. Give them to me and get yourself downstairs, young lady, or your father will hear of this!Ē
     Amanda slammed the door at her motherís back and stomped furiously back to her desk. Fumbling and angry, she searched frantically for paper and pen. Then she seated herself and began to write.

Dear Amanda,
Iíve got to write to you. Youíre soÖ