by Jess Goodman from Pine Valley, California.
Sep 1, 12

Dora was beautiful, witty, and athletic. She was a class act, and I had a plan to make her mine. It was June of 1969. Our high school graduation was just days away.

I saw Dora for the first time in a seventh-grade. In art class: holding her brush, smiling at her work, always so confident, so positive, so cheerful. Maybe it was the creative energy in the room. Maybe it was the recent release of hormones. Whatever it was, I was smitten, and no matter which girl I dated during my secondary school years, Dora was never far from my thoughts.

But there was Ward. Ward was the guy who occupied her thoughts – the golden, squeaky-clean A-student who excelled at sports and walked on water. I’d known Ward since kindergarten, but once our paths crossed with Dora’s in junior high, they became a couple: together at lunch, together at dances, together in the halls between classes.  

But now, at the end of our senior year, all of that was about to change.

We were college-bound. Ward, a good Mormon from a devout family, was headed for Utah – nearly a thousand miles away. Dora and I, however, would attend a university in our home state. What’s more, this last year had brought us closer together, sharing class projects and exchanging phone calls that were as much social as academic. And now, with the Ward-free summer ahead, the prospect of time together made me ready to reveal my true feelings.  

Yearbooks were issued that final week, and before long their pages were filled with best wishes, memories, promises and corny romancing. On a sunny day in the senior quad, Dora left a circle of girlfriends and walked toward me. We exchanged our books, and she walked away to pen her thoughts. I watched her perch on a bench just yards away. I watched her select a page and begin writing.

She returned my book, took back her own, smiled and was gone. I found a private place, located the page, and sat down to read what Dora had written to me:

“Dear Jess…” she began,

(She called me “Dear”! “Dear” as in “darling”, “sweetheart”…)

Encouraged, I read on: “You have always…”

(…always what? Been the one who makes her happy? The one she wants to be with? The one she thinks about before drifting off to sleep at night?)

I read on.

Dear Jess,

You have always
reminded me
of Edgar Allan Poe.

--Dora Walker


The summer came and went. I can’t recall whether or not I saw Dora or even spoke to her on the phone. We shared a class during our freshman year in college. But nothing else. 

Maybe she and Ward finally hooked up. She wasn’t at our first high school reunion, but she had a short greeting printed in the program. I guess she’s somewhere on the east coast, but I’m not really sure.  

I don’t think about her much anymore.