Remembering what he was like as a boy, David wistfully recalls the crush he had on his teacher, Miss Simpson. "I thought she was the prettiest lady in the world." His fantasies come back to him-how he would prove himself a hero in her eyes by winning races and saving her from a mugger. There were furtive phone calls and bicycle rides past her house, even a ruse about selling raffle tickets. As a nine-year-old, David dreams that Miss Simpson has fallen in love with him, but when he confesses his feelings to his best friend, he learns that she is engaged. His classmates tease him on the playground, until he works up the courage to ask her if she likes him more than anyone else in the class. He catches her at the wrong moment after school when she is hurrying to finish up her work. She tells him rather curtly that no, she likes all of her students just the same. But David hears only that he has been rejected and goes away hurt. From then on his conduct changes radically: he picks fights when he is teased and "stops being good and starts causing trouble" to win Miss Simpson's attention. One day after school he rushes into the empty classroom and begins to gash "I hate you" on her desk. The principal catches him in the act, and afterwards in the school office, Miss Simpson tries to help him gain a greater understanding of what they both have experienced.