Roster. Name. First, last. Eye color: green. Second seat from the window. The first joke—a startled smile, eyes lifted. My comment on the fourth paragraph of her essay in October; her response. Chapter 7: the day we discussed the horizon and what it might symbolize, whether it’s better to go or to stay. Her fear, the day I asked her to speak and her hands shook under her desk and later she stayed after to apologize, and how I told her I’d been like her, more so. The April her mom came in, and I saw their same sea-glass eyes, the mother’s confidence and need, the daughter’s hesitation and freedom; the way I was the mother with her sensible loafers, handbag slung over one arm, and I was the daughter, too, in scuffed sneakers, hiding in my oversized sweatshirt, desperate to leave. After the exam I will give her a book, and she will give me a card, and ever after I will see her, second seat from the window, as she goes on to graduate, post wedding pictures on Facebook, write about her new job/baby/country, and then maybe doesn’t write for years, maybe floats out into the world so I only am left with the ghostly imprint of her smile on the page of Chapter 7, and the hair that reminds me of hers on the girl standing above me on the airport escalator, all those people out in the world who had their own tenth-grade English teachers, maybe fifty years ago even, and who sometimes wonder, gazing out a window, do they even remember me? and the answer is we do.

Anne P. Beatty’s essays have been published in The American Scholar, Shenandoah, Longreads, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She lives with her family in Greensboro, North Carolina, where she teaches high school English.

Artwork by Barbara Gillette Price