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The Childhood of Mr. Boo Radley

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Arthur Radley pressed his forehead to the cool glass of his bedroom window. It helped to keep his mind off the throbbing that had set it's roots deep within the pink folds of his mind. Slowly, very slowly, he slid down until his bottom touched the floor. His shoulders slumped. Another trying day. Without his permission, the days events replayed over his closed lids. Laughter. They were laughing at him. He shoved the heels of his hands against his eyes to somehow bury the memories. His brain responded with a dull throb of pain. Silver tears leaked from beneath his hands. People are cruel. They beat you until you fall, and then they stand over your broken body and laugh. He sighed.

His parents weren't mean, but they didn't seem to especially care about him either. They seemed to… oh what was the word? Just tolerate him. They fed him, clothed him, and sent him to school, but that was about it. His mother and father seemed to care only about how they look. Arthur was just another well groomed facet in their polished appearance. Because of this, they didn't have a very good relationship besides the "Good Morning"'s, "Please"'s and "Thank You"'s. He didn't feel comfortable in their presence. He felt that he had to act as perfect as they did. And that was why he felt he couldn't talk to them. About anything. Especially the important stuff. Like how he had defended a Negro. He let his thoughts drift to last week.

She had to go to town to fetch some water for her mother. She started to waddle back, (her bucket of water was filled to the brim) when she stumbled directly into a boy by the name of James Reed. He was quickly soaked to the skin. Arthur Radley happened to be in town, he was here (as he was every Saturday) for an ice cream. The routine was nailed to perfection. His father would be reading the paper, and Arthur would say "Sir? Today is Saturday." Mr Radley would then slip his hand into his pocket, without breaking eye contact with his paper, and pull out a two dimes. One for him, and one for one of his nonexistent friends. He ended up saving all the extra dimes. For? He didn't know. But then there was this Negro girl, who had soaked one of the most spiteful boys he knew, and James had a long memory. His eyes narrowed and he slapped her across the face. "What was that for you clumsy idiot! Who is your master? I'll need to speak with him immediately."

The way people treated Negros sickened him. He flinched when Jamse's hand flew across her cheek. Seeing where this was leading, Arthur marched up to the black girl and scowled at her. "God! I can't leave you alone for one minuet can I? Not one minuet!" Arthur then turned away from the bewildered girl and said apologetically to James. "I'm so sorry James. I sent her to fetch some water for me while I picked up an ice cream cone… but I guess I can't trust this n***** anywhere." For good measure, Arthur shot a dirty look at her. James looked bewildered himself. "You own her?" "More like renting. She actually belongs to Farmer Cox up the road, there." Arthur had done a couple of favors for him in the past, so he was sure the farmer could play along if need be. James scratched his head. Then, obviously seeing that there was no way to win this conversation without angering the Radleys, he simply nodded and left. He grabbed the girls arm and led her back to the water pump roughly. The negro girl whispered to Arthur softly. "I think you've got the wrong slave." He promptly replied: "No I don't. Now take this and your water and go on home." He pressed his two dimes into her palm. "If anyone asks, I gave them to you." Arthur spoke gently now. "What's your name?" "Ann Marie." He could barely hear it. She looked up at him with moist gray eyes. "I'll never forget you." she whispered. Arthur simply smiled.

As this memory faded, Arthur fingered his upper arm, which had blossomed into a dark purple ring. James eventually found out that he had been tricked. Arthur was just glad that he had took it out on him instead of Ann Marie. He pulled his sleeve back down to his wrist. He always wore long sleeves to hide the bruises. Well, ever since the incident. I guess that was the price of a little human decency. He dried his tears. He hoped Ann Marie was okay. He lifted his gaze, and looked out the window. When word finally reached his parents, they had confined him to his room for the rest of the month. They didn't care about his side of the story. As soon as they heard that their precious boy had been even in the presence of a negro, they sent him to his room. Thats where he still is now.

Arthur was positive that he had been secretly adopted. These people who called him their son, were actually some doctors idea of a sick joke. He was positive that somewhere, his real parents got stuck with the real Radley child. It was a secret fantasy of his. He always pictured his mother with soft blond hair, always worn up with green ribbons, that match her eyes. She would read him stories at night. His father would be a strong but sensitive man. He would wear a suit, because he was a lawyer. Strong enough to take on the toughest cases, but gentle enough to care about them. He breathed on the glass of the window and let it fog up. with a single finger he traced a crude picture of three figures, holding hands. He draws little smiles on the dad, the mom, and himself. His finger is pulled away, and he admires his handiwork. It's not much, but its enough to keep him going. And besides, he has a friend now. Maybe not the best kind of company, he is a Cunningham, but he is the only friend he has. He treats Arthur like a equal. They enjoy each others company.

But Arthur is nervous, apprehensive. He knows that he is losing faith in humanity. But, maybe, this is what he's been waiting for. Someone who cares. His fingers touch the fading picture of the perfect family on the glass. Someone, he can care about. Then, Arthur Radley smiles his first real smile, in a long time.




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