I wrote my first short story in the third grade called “A Boy Named DJ.” It was with my #2 pencil on wide-ruled recycled paper. The main character was named Cat (maybe it was Kat) because she had “cat eyes.” Yes, I was totally being original. The plot was pretty dark for a third-grader. A new boy named DJ moves into town and two friends develop crushes on him. DJ asks out Cat’s friend and somehow, Cat is nearby during the date and she hears DJ attempting to force himself on her friend. I did not write out the word rape; instead I left it as a “r.”

My teacher found out I was writing and she wanted to read the story. I handed it over and it didn’t take long for her to call me to her desk. She pointed to my “r” and told me if I ever saw anything like this on TV to just turn it off. I’m not even sure if it was TV, books, society, media, whatever, that even taught me what that “r” stood for. I just nodded my head and took my story back. I erased the “r” and changed it to “attack.” It didn’t really change the meaning of the situation, but it seemed like a safer word to write out rather of the “r” word.

When I look back at that moment, I’m glad that my teacher was concerned enough to talk to me about writing such a violent act. It also taught me about censorship. Granted, I was in the third grade and I probably shouldn’t have been writing about that kind of stuff, but that’s what I wanted to write.

I followed up “A Boy Named DJ” with “The New Boy and Girl,” which was about a new boy and girl. I was still going for originality. And yes, I’m pretty sure they were evil and scary too.