Joseph did not like to read. It was as simple as that. He did not read books. He did not read poems. He even refrained from reading the backs of cereal boxes. He knew how to read but he refuses to. He actually has an amazing gift when it comes to reading. When he sees or hears a word he will immediately knot the definition, part of speech, synonyms, antonyms, etc. He does not know of the gift (know one does) because he does not read. Do not judge Joseph so quickly though. He does have a reason for not wanting to read. It takes him back to the first grade, before he had developed his gift. The class was reading a children’s story “Little Red Riding Hood.” The teacher would start off reading, then go around the room letting each child read a sentence or so aloud. At the time, Joseph actually had some trouble reading. He was actually a little behind every other student. When Ms. Smith got to him, the part he was supposed to read was “Little Red Riding Hood skipped across the forest floor” but instead he read “Rittle led liding good picked ross doris.” Then all of the children laughed their heads off. Even Ms. Smith had a hard time suppressing a snicker. From that class humiliation on, Joseph never read again. Okay, now you can judge him because he has a stupid reason to hate reading. Years later, in fifth grade (the year teachers really started getting on him), the english teacher, Ms. Barbara, lectured him “You have to read or you’re going to flunk this class.” “Well good,” Joseph replied, “I hate this class anyway.” Joseph’s sister, Lizzy (who did not have the same gift he had), was a reading fanatic. She would tear through novel after novel ever annoying her brother. One day Lizzy asked the same thing usually asked Joseph on a regular day basis. “Why can’t you see the value of reading?” “Why can’t you see that reading has no value,” he retorted. Joseph’s dad (who often writes for the local newspaper) overheard the conversation and said, “You know Lizzy’s right, Joe. Reading is a great thing.” “Well it’s something I’m never going to do.” Many years passed and Joseph kept his vow to never read. During this time he had many brief relationships but none of them lasted. Whenever the girl found out about Joseph’s refusal to read, they would break up with him. Every time that happened he would think to himself “This is the kind of thing that comes out of reading.” Every time something bad happened to him in his life he would somehow associate it with reading, thus, blaming reading. When he was about 82 years old, he was still an anti-reader. Lizzy had a grandson named Billy who would often visit Joseph after school. Joseph loved Billy like he was his own grandson, despite the fact that Billy too loved to read. One day Joseph found out that Billy and his parents were moving across the country. This upset him greatly and you know what he blamed for this? Reading! Don’t ask me how he associated this with reading, he just did. On his last day before moving, Billy went to visit his Great Uncle one last time. They chatted for a while and soon Billy had to leave. But as he was leaving he left a small package on the door step. Joseph did not find out about the package until the next day when he went to get the mail (he was not going to read it, of course). When he found the package, he realized it was from Billy. He opened it and guess what was inside it? A book, but not just any book it was a certain book called “Little Red Riding Hood.” At first Joseph was angry that Billy had left this for him. But once realizing Billy’s intention his anger softened. He decided since he was quite old and since it was Billy who left the package, he would read the book. At first, since it had been forever when he had last read his mind had a little trouble processing the words and then the gift kicked in. He read it through understanding every single word in it. After he closed the book, he realized he truly loved reading. He decided from then on he would tear through novel after novel after novel. He would read kind of text, any reading material. He was so excited that his heart rate began to sky rocket and the more he thought about how much he loved reading the more excited he became and the higher is heart rate climbed. Then soon his heart rate had reached its peak and gave out entirely. His last dying thoughts were “I should have read as much as I could when I had the chance.” And now the chance was lost. The end.
February 17, 2012