Dear Melinda Skye,
Thank you for sharing your snack.
You are very pretty.
Dear Jesse Rose,
Thank you. I have new shoes. Do you like them?
I don't like school. But I like you. Do you like me?
I like you. But I like school. Reading is the best part.
The best part of school is seeing you.
Your very good friend,
P.S. I like baseball. I want to play for the Braves. They are my favorite team.
I like ballet. I take classes and want to be a real ballerina. I will be famous.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rose,
I'm afraid that Jesse must be placed on an "in-room" suspension from recess for the next three days for fighting on the playground. Although he has assured me that he "only socked Toby Gillman in the nose because he shoved Melinda Skye off the swing," as his teacher, I can't allow physical attacks on fellow students to occur. Please understand that I think Jesse is a good child. He has never disrupted the class until this unfortunate incident. As you are aware, this school system has a zero-tolerance policy regarding physical violence, and therefore Jesse must be punished for his aggressive act toward another student. Please call our principal if you have any questions regarding Jesse's suspension. Be assured that Toby is receiving the same punishment for shoving Melinda.
Jesse has told his father and me that he will not hit Toby again "UNLESS Toby hurts Melinda." We've always tried to instill a sense of right and wrong in our son, and he knows that hitting others is wrong. For some reason, Jesse has formed an attachment to Melinda and feels a need to defend her--like some kind of mini-Lancelot. We understand and accept his punishment and are confident that he will behave in the future if Toby behaves.
Thank you for punching Toby for me. I am sorry you have to miss recess, but I will sit with you at lunch all next week because you are my hero.
I made this picture for you. It's me playing baseball and you watching. Do you like it?
I like the picture a lot!!!!! I put it in my room.
To: Jesse Rose
From: Melinda Skye
Date: December 16, Friday
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Place: Memorial Auditorium
Jesse--Melinda wants you to come watch her dance in the "Nutcracker Suite" next weekend. She is one of the cherubs in the dance company and will be in the front row. Perhaps your parents will bring you, and after the performance, you can all come backstage and say hello.
Elana Skye (Melinda's mom)
[Transcript from the VCR of Leonard and Elana Skye. Scene of backstage bedlam as girls dressed in tutus and leotards scurry around shrieking and giggling.]
OFF-CAMERA VOICE OF LEONARD SKYE: Slow down, Princess. There's somebody here to see you.
[Camera swings around to show Jesse and his parents. Jesse walks over to Melinda, hands her a pink rose wrapped in tissue.]
JESSE: I liked . . . I mean, you danced real good. I stayed awake the whole time!
MELINDA [giggles]: A rose? For me? [Glances up at camera] Look, Daddy, Jesse brought me a rose. A rose from a Rose. [Giggles again]
ELANA [Steps into camera shot, bends down]: This is just beautiful. How thoughtful, Jesse. [Looks up] Thank you for bringing him.
[Camera swings and shot widens to include Jesse's smiling parents.]
ANN ROSE: He saw that on television . . . you know, the part about giving an actress, or dancer in this case, a bouquet of roses after the final curtain. He insisted he bring roses for Melinda.
JOHN ROSE: I took him to the florist and he bought it with his own money.
VOICE OF JESSE: That's why there's just one. They cost a whole lot!
[Camera swings around and zooms in on Jesse's face as all adults laugh off-camera.]
ELANA: What do you say to Jesse, honey?
MELINDA: Thank you a whole bunch. [Throws arms around Jesse and kisses him wetly on the cheek. Adults laugh. Jesse's eyes widen. Camera pulls back and kids wave at lens.]
[Fade to Black]
To: All Parents
From: Nancy Barber
Date: May 20
To commemorate the end of the school year, we will hold a small "graduation" ceremony on Friday, the last day of classes. All family members are invited to this ceremony, which will be held at 3 p.m. in the cafeteria. Please plan to attend if at all possible. I am proud of each student and want everyone to have a sense of a job well done!
Report cards will go out within two weeks of the end of classes. Have a wonderful summer!
I will miss you very much all summer. I will write to you, OK? My mom said it is all right with her if your mom says I can. Will you miss me too?
P.S. Can I be your boyfriend? Like a REAL boyfriend, not just a boy who is a friend?
Yes, I will miss you. Yes, let's write. I am going to dance camp in July. I am going to visit my Grandma in Florida in August. I love her bunches and bunches. See you next year!
P.S. My mom says I have to wait longer before I can have a real boyfriend. But thank you for asking.
P.P.S. If I could have a boyfriend, I would pick you!From the Paperback edition.
Excerpted from A Rose for Melinda by Lurlene McDaniel. Copyright © 2002 by Lurlene McDaniel. Excerpted by permission of Laurel Leaf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.