Shina handed me the notebook on her last day.
“Do you want this, Ms. Freeman?”
I nodded yes. It was a composition notebook, filled with her bubbly writing in multicolored pens. Shina was my first favorite student, and she was gone months before the year ended.
The notebook never made it out of my car, and even now, when I go to clean it, I make no move to take it out. It sits, covered in dust above the back windshield, and I remember Shina.
She was in my second block class with a thick long weave braided into her hair. She was nine at the beginning of the year, but she seemed to be the oldest child in the fifth grade.
We got to know each other because I did not have duty-free lunch. So every day at 12:20, I would sit down at the head of the third long table. Shina would place her tray right beside me and glare at anyone who tried to take her spot.
It was Shina who made the disgusting meal of the day, mixing all of her unwanted food together into her own creative dish. I would watch as she squeezed ketchup onto the bread she never ate, piling it high with the mustard greens that resembled sludge.
It was Shina who told me that I needed to get on Christian Mingle and find a man.
It was Shina who worked the hardest. Got angry the quickest. Made the rudest comments. Overtook my classroom when I lost control.