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Story ID:2066
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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(c) Richard L Provencher

Cruel words could be dark and mean. "You're just a cripple!" rang sharp like a knife. And to Chris it felt like a hot knife going through butter. Instead it was going through him. He was the butter.

It wasn't his fault he walked with a limp because he was born with a clubfoot. No one wanted to play with him. He wasn’t able to run or wrestle or even climb trees. And it wasn't easy often walking back and forth to school.

Today began with his usual activities. Get out of bed. Hurry up and get dressed. It was hard to bend down and pull up socks. "OOF! Phew!" were now part of his normal vocabulary.

After washing his face he limped downstairs. Chris could smell the coffee. But he couldn't have any. It was for dad. Freckles on his face wrinkled up. It didn’t seem fair since he was almost nine years old.

Mom kept reminding everyone caffeine was in coffee. "Not good for children," she often repeated. “Or anyone else,” she sometimes muttered. A clubfoot is not good for children either, Chris thought.

"Hi mom! Hi dad!" Before Chris could say, "Hi sis," Donna screamed back, "HIII!"

"Not so loud," mother said.

"SSSH," came from dad.

Chris’ leg was extra sore today. He sat down and had breakfast. Four mouths were like vacuum cleaners. After the food was munched, it was off to school, only four blocks away.

Each time the boy came into Mr. Watkins’, grade three classes he felt like a scared deer. The class bully was always waiting. His words stung like a wasp, again and again.

"Cripple. Cripple" was whispered behind his back. The words crawled as spiders along his arms. Somehow he knew today was going to be different. The feeling went right down to his toes. Chris opened up his book and read, “There once was a little boy, who had a crippled leg. Everyone made fun of him.”

Interesting, he thought. Sounds just like me. “And the boy had lots of freckles,” the story said on the next page. He quickly read the words again. "OMIGOSH."

"Did you say something, Chris?" Mr. Watkins asked.

"No sir," the boy answered. "It was n...nothing."

"Alright everyone. Read the story on page 41.” Then the teacher sent a chill down his back when he said, "It's called A Day at Summer Camp." Except Chris’ story on the same page was called, The Bully. Yet his Living Reader book had the same cover as the others. He borrowed Mike's for a few moments. It had the same number of pages.

But his was a different story. Should he say anything? He didn't. His eyes grew wide as he read the part about two wishes that could be granted the crippled boy. Then the bell rang for lunch.

"Shucks." He wanted to see what happened next. The class erupted out the door. Chris slowly joined them. “I’d like to have two wishes too,” he thought.

At the cafeteria everyone pushed and shoved as they dashed back to vacant seats. On his way to a table, his elbow was deliberately pushed. His hot dog and fries bounced off his plate, landing on the floor.

Then the class bully kicked it across the floor. There was a hush in the room as everyone watched. Chris didn't dare say anything either. He just bit his lower lip, as the bully waited with a sneer on his face. He looked like a cat that had just captured a mouse.

And Chris was the mouse.

He had a hard time keeping tears from pouring down his cheeks. When you’re just eight and crippled, it's hard to be brave. He left the cafeteria and limped outside. Chris didn't notice the bully following him, along with two of his bullying friends.

"Hey you," the bully said.

"Yah. He means you," his chums added.

Although Chris was shivering, he wasn't cold. There was no wind. It was fear, almost like a dark blanket beginning to cover him. The bully placed his face right in front of Chris. "Cripple. Cripple," came from his smiling mouth.

Finally Chris could take it no longer. "I wish you were a cripple too," he said. The bully laughed. But it happened, as quickly as a seagull swallowing a fish.

"OW, my leg. What’s wrong?" The bully yelled in pain. He quickly moved away from Chris, his leg limping along with him.

Chris just stared. His wish really did happen. The bully’s friends ran off since they were now afraid of Chris. The smaller boy could hardly believe his eyes, afraid of him? Now he was the brave one and followed the bully right to his house. Chris' own leg felt heavy as he dragged it along. But the pain was gone for now.

He watched as the bully's mother came out. She saw her boy on the front steps looking sad and in pain.

"What happened?" she asked Chris, who stood nearby.

"He called me names," Chris said.

"Names?" she asked.

"Lots of them. Like cripple, cripple."

"Ryan, that's not fair. Why did you say those things?" She was very upset at her son. Ryan just put his head down.

Chris walked over to the tree in the front of Ryan's yard. Imagine, the bully was crying, as his mother scolded him. Chris heard the “cawing” of crows. They seemed to be trying to get his attention. One landed on the sidewalk, a few feet away.

“Oh, almost forgot.” Chris was thoughtful as he made his second wish. Behind him there was a scream of delight from Ryan.

"MOMMM! My leg feels okay now!" Ryan glanced quickly in Chris' direction. He nodded his head in thanks.

Chris knew things would be much better from now on.

* * *