TONIGHT I THOUGHT OF ASHLEY.

  1. Ashley was in the fifth grade. I was in the third grade.
  2. The first time I saw her, she was in a school production of "Cinderella."
    She was Cinderella.
  3. She was so pretty.
    Truth be told, I don't remember what she looked like. She was blonde, and she had a great smile. But in my mind, she was the most beautiful girl in the world. So picture that, and you've got Ashley.
  4. One night during a hometown baseball game, I went to the creek behind the field to look for crawfish.
    Things are different in Mississippi.
  5. When I got to the creek, Ashley was already there, doing the same thing.
    "You want to help me look for craw daddies?" she said. Of course I did.
  6. We played there for hours, catching crawfish and putting them into whatever we could find - discarded styrofoam cups, holes we dug ourselves.
    I couldn't believe it was happening. It was one of the best nights of my life.
  7. A few months later, my mom came into my room after school. She looked sad.
  8. "Do you remember that girl Ashley, the one who played Cinderella?"
  9. Yes, I do.
  10. "She was out getting the mail. Standing in the street. She was hit by a car. She died."
  11. Oh.
  12. "Was she a friend of yours?"
  13. She asked me if I wanted to look for craw daddies with her.
  14. She really did.