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Story ID:1892
Written by:Richard Laurent. Provencher (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Fiction
Location:Truro Nova Scotia Canada
Person:Richard L. Provencher
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© Richard L. Provencher

Most boys are able to play baseball. Not Bradley, whose blond hair keeps blowing in the wind. Some boys are able to play hockey. Not Bradley. He’s happy just to get out of the house. Other boys get to play tennis at Victoria Park, in Truro. Not Bradley. But, he has a smile wide as the sky.

Now he watches from his wheelchair, mom standing proudly by his side. They’re both excited watching Walker’s Hardware play the season’s first Mosquito League baseball game. “Hey ump,” his mom shouts. “That was a strike!” She needs a loud voice since mom has to yell for both of them.

Bradley isn’t able to yell, nor even talk. It happened last year after that crazy car accident. If he tries hard, he can roll his eyes. Sometimes, if he tries even harder, he can make a sound. And he has to be happy having the largest smile around. He’s unable to walk, either.

Thank goodness for his neat wheelchair. Mom had it painted red two weeks ago. Now she wants everyone to see his new wheels. At first, his friends pushed him around. “Hey, it’s my turn! No, mine!” they used to shout. Now, they don’t visit so often. “They must be busy,” mom says.

First thing this morning, Bradley put on his sunshine smile. Just in case mom is sad today, he thought. After she dressed Bradley, he opened his mouth wider than the ocean. He is able to show all his front teeth so mom could brush them. The doctors said he would never walk again. That was okay, he could still smile. He could not raise his arms either. That was okay, too.

It didn’t even matter if his hair got messed up in the wind. He knew he would need special help for a long time. Some people said all Bradley could do was smile. That was a neat compliment. But Bradley was also very smart. They didn’t realize he understood everything said around him.

After the baseball game Bradley and mom had a picnic. The aroma of newly cut grass was pleasant. Mom pushed her son through the park then headed past the park monument. After crossing the wooden bridge they rested in the shade. He enjoyed being beside the tall Norway maple tree.

Watching crows skip across the sky was also fun. Sometimes a bushy-tailed red squirrel visited. Sometimes it was one or two noisy Blue Jays. If only I could grow wings, the boy wished. Then I would flap…flap all the way over those trees.

Mom pushed him into a sunny spot. “So you can grow more freckles,” she said. The wind tickled his face. She could tell he was happy. Bradley turned his face towards the children’s playground. His eyes rolled from side to side like ball bearings. He didn’t want to miss anything. Children yelled and screamed during their games.

One day Bradley knew he too would climb those exercise bars. And mom won’t have to push me anymore, he thought. My arms are going to be strong enough to wrestle alligators. Bradley sat back, smiling at the blue sky. Once a monarch butterfly landed on his nose. He remembered mom’s smile when she watched him.

Now it was time to go. In his head, words formed. Bye trees. Bye, Park and birds. You too flowers and grass. It wasn’t very far to the car. Then home to supper. And not long after, into pajamas. He watched for any falling stars. Last night he saw two. At bedtime, Bradley listened to mom’s voice.

She was a great story- teller. Her words were soothing as words rippled like the stream at Victoria Park. Mom’s voice rose like thunder then dipped and crackled like lightning. She played all the parts just right. “Tonight,” she said, “It’s a story about a boy in a canoe. He’s afraid of the storm on the lake.”

As he listens, Bradley pretends his wheelchair is a canoe. His heart hammers with excitement. Squeezing his eyes he can almost feel the storm and its dark clouds. They’re not white and fluffy like those in the park. Will the boy in mom’s story tip into the water? Bradley wonders. Will he get soaking wet and have to swim? Oh, that would be so hard in all that wind.

Finally the story comes to an end. Mom’s story has raindrops that fall on Bradley’s chin. He knows those are her tears. Very quietly mom says, “The boy gets safely to shore.” She leans toward her son. Bradley feels her breath on his face. She whispers, “I love you.” He closes his eyes. And smiles. “Do you love me a lot?” she asks.

Now it’s his turn to do something really special. Just for mom. He struggles to stretch from within. Air rises like a bubble from Bradley’s stomach. It climbs from his tummy to his throat. And prepares to leap from his lips. Finally he opens his mouth. And lets the sound out, slowly. Then it comes in a great big rush. “ARRRG!” means, "YES!"

* * *

FOOTPRINTS, an adult novel about a father’s search for a son he never met can now be ordered from SynergEbooks. Richard & Esther Provencher are also co-authors of two other novels soon to be published at: www.synergebooks.com