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Andrew

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If you were mine, I’d never frown
There’d never be a day when I was down
If we were together, I’d always be true
I’d never stop loving you.



There were only two words to describe the poem I wrote for my Language arts Assignment: EXTREME CORNINESS.

I erased the whole thing and tried think of a different, less lame poem. By the time my dad came into my room to tell me to get ready for bed, the only thing I’d accomplished was chewing the erasers off of three pencils.

It’s called writer’s block, okay? Everyone gets it sooner or later. It wasn’t my fault that my writing was extremely corny. I just had to wait for that one magnificent idea to pop into my brain. I would be inspired enough to write a novel about it. It would turn into a best-seller. It would be converted into several different languages including Spanish, French, and German. It would eventually be turned into a movie. I would move to a huge mansion and my horse, Collette, would live in her own luxury stables next to me.

Yet the only thing written on my paper now was Michelle Macularo, period 5, Ms. Clevenger’s Language Arts. I shoved it into my back pack and decide to do the rest tomorrow. Or whenever the stupid writer’s block went away, which could be five or more years.
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*

“How far are you on your writing assignment?” Mandy asked as we walked down the green linoleum hallway the next day at school.

“Let’s see… nowhere.” I said. “I haven’t even started it. “There is absolutely nothing for me to write about.”

“You could write about Nathan.” She suggested.

“No way. I don’t feel like crying in the middle of class.” I said.

Nathan was my little brother. He was only six when he was kidnapped from Stop-n-Shop. I was only ten when it happened. I often stayed awake at night wondering where Nathan was and what he looked like now. He probably wasn’t the same scrawny Nathan I used to know. I wondered if his dirty- blond hair had darkened to a light brown, if he was tall like my father or petite like my mother. I wondered if he still had a laugh like a little boy, loud and joyful. And happy. I wondered how long it had been since he did laugh.
But then the reality crept into my mind. The thought that he might not be alive scared me. But what if he was alive? Wouldn’t that have been even scarier? To know that Nathan could be missing his parents and big sister, staying awake at night wondering if he would ever see his family again?

My parents were devastated, as any parent would be. I would hear my mother crying in her room, regretting ever letting Nathan go pick out some cereal by himself that day in the supermarket. My mom was depressed for many weeks. I would never ask her about dinner. If there wasn’t dinner, I would use the last pieces of bread to make myself toast, which is what I survived off of for a while. My mom gradually got better and started being there to take care of her only child again. Although she still set the table for four every morning and night.

My parents both knew I was lonely. This is why they got me my miniature horse, Colette. Colette helped me through years of pain, although no pet rabbit, puppy, or even horse could ever replace my little brother.

“Hey, where are you going next?” I asked.

“Computers” Mandy replied.

“Oh. I have to go to the other hallway. See ya.”

“Bye, Michelle.”

I hurried down the D-wing. It was the most crowded hallway during that time of day and I hated walking down it.

“Excuse me.” I mumbled as people pushed past me.

“Michelle! Hi!”

I looked up and saw my friend Kayla coming towards me.

“Oh, hi, Kayla.” I said. “I haven’t seen you in like, forever.”

“Yea, I know!” She said. “And your birthday’s coming up. Are you doing anything special?”

“I don’t know yet. What do you think I should do?” I asked.

“Well my favorite party was like, two years ago and I brought some friends to New York and-”

It all of a sudden felt like I was being hit by a miniature vehicle. It smashed into my legs and they collapsed and before I knew it, I was on the cold linoleum floor with my books scattered around me. I looked up and saw one of the special Ed kids peering down at me from an electric wheelchair. He had curly brown hair and green eyes. He looked like a mixture of confused, embarrassed and sorry.

“Oh my god!” Kayla shrieked. “Are you okay?”

“I… think so…” I mumbled as Kayla helped me up. She exploded into laughter.

“I so did not see that coming!” She said. “He, like, ran you over with his wheelchair!”

“That was not funny!” I said. I was so mad at the kid. He hurried away by then. And without even apologizing.

“Seriously, though. Are you okay?”

“Yea, I’m fine.” I muttered.

“Oh, gosh, I’m going to be late to my next class. I gotta run, okay?”

“Fine, bye.” I replied, still gathering my scattered papers and shoving them into folders.

A teacher hurried down the hallway towards me.

“I am so sorry, honey. I heard what happened. Andrew told me. He’s new here and he feels really badly.” She said, bending over to pick up my pencil case.

“Thank you.” I said, taking it from her. Andrew. How does a kid so different have such a normal name?

“He was too embarrassed to come help you. But he’s sorry.”

“Yea, I understand.” I said. How is he the embarrassed one? He humiliated me in front of a hallway full of kids!

“Okay, well I have to go. But I can write you a late pass.”

“Yes, please.” I said.

I walked into class and with shaky hands, handed my Language Arts teacher the crumpled late pass from Andrew’s teacher.

I took a seat and tried to concentrate. I hoped Ms. Clevenger wouldn’t ask to see the rough draft of my short story. It was a bad day already. I didn’t need to get lunch detention for a missing assignment.

It wasn’t my fault for having writer’s block. There was nothing good for me to write about. Really. There wasn’t.

42-9-17. My locker combo. As soon as I pull the door open, a lined piece of paper fell out and landed gracefully on the floor. A love letter? Yea, right. There was a bigger chance that a Native American would come trotting through the doors of our school riding a cow.

Dear Michelle,

I am very sorry for making you fall in the hallway. I’m sorry I didn’t help you up or pick up your things for you. I am so ashamed of myself for that.
To make it up to you, would you like to join me to see a movie this evening? I just moved here last week and I don’t have many friends yet. Actually I’m having trouble trying to fit in. If you cannot go I understand, It’s just I am trying to make it up to you. Sorry again.

Andrew.


See a movie? With the kid who humiliated me and then fled? I don’t think so. I thought, stuffing it into my pocket. But then again, he feels bad about it. He just wants to make it up to me. I felt bad for him, too. But I’m going to be honest, here. I was not excited about seeing a movie with a special Ed kid. What if someone I knew was in the same theatre? I would be teased, mocked, and made fun of.

Ever since Nathan was kidnapped my parents had been super over protective. If I asked to see a movie with some boy they didn’t even know, there would be no doubt that they would say no. I had nothing to worry about. I wouldn’t have to go to the movies with Andrew. And I wouldn’t have to feel bad about it, either. I would just tell him my parents didn’t let me go places alone or with people they didn’t know.

“Hey, mom?” I called, slamming the front door closed and letting my backpack drop to the floor.

“Oh, hi honey! You’re home early today! I was thinking we could do something fun today, just you me and dad. Maybe go to the haunted trail tonight?”

“No, mom. Sorry.” I said. “I actually was going to ask if I could go to the movies tonight.”

“Sure, Michelle! What do you want to see? I was just thinking myself of going to see-”

I cut my mom off. “No, not with you or dad.” I said. Next they’ll ask who I’m going with, and they won’t let me go with Andrew, of course. I mean, they barely know the kid. They’re way too protective.

“Who with then?” My mom asked. “Kayla? Mandy?”

“No. Just this boy named Andrew who I just met today.” I said. She’s going to say no, she’s going to say no!

My mother sighed. “Michelle, you’ve always had great judgment. I really can put my trust in you. So you may go tonight. Even though I wish you weren’t growing up so fast.” She said, looking me in the eyes.

What?

“If tonight goes well, then I’ll know I can trust you in the future.” She went on. I still said nothing. “So what time is the movie? What are you seeing?”

“Um, I don’t know.” I mumbled. “So you’re letting me go tonight? Are you sure?”

“I’ve been thinking, honey. That ever since Nathan was stolen from us, I’ve been overprotective of you. Which is not fair to you. You should be able to have all the opportunities other teens have.” She gave me a hug. “Now, have fun tonight.” She said.

Should I dress up? Should I wear makeup? Why should I- I don’t like Andrew or anything. He’s the kid who ran me over with his wheelchair. He’s a special Ed kid. Was I really thinking those thoughts? It was cruel of me and I knew it. I didn’t know the situation he was in or what it was like to be living in a wheelchair. It must have been terrible. But I still didn’t want to hang out with him that night.

My mom dropped me off outside of the theatre at quarter to seven that evening. “Keep your cell phone in your pocket.” She said through the window. “Please, please be safe.” I didn’t want to see her car pulling away. Don’t leave me. Oh, this is going to be so awkward. I thought.

“Hi, Michelle” he said. I turned around to see the same dark hair and brown-green eyes. He looked normal. He talked normally, too, I found out after we talked a little. He told me I looked nice. I said thank you, but never looking him in the eyes.

“So… I’m sorry again about”-

“It’s seriously okay” I said. I looked at his wheelchair and wondered why he was in it in the first place.

“I’m still not used this thing.” Andrew said. You don’t really appreciate your legs until you can’t use them.”

I didn’t know what to say. When people tried to comfort me about Nathan, they would say, “I understand what you’re going through. It must be hard.” I knew they wanted to be kind, but I wanted to shout, “How could you ever understand? Has your little brother been abducted? Have you gone what I go through every day of my life? You don’t. And you don’t understand!”

And now there was nothing for me to say at all to Andrew. I had no idea what it would be like to be handicapped. But I like people who listened to me when I talked about Nathan. It’s rare to find a person who will just sit back and absorb your words, saying nothing but an occasional nod. I never thought about how important listening was until Nathan was stolen.

Andrew said after a moment of silence, “Thank you for doing this. I mean, going to the movies with me. I thought for sure you would say no.”

I felt a twinge of guilt cross my mind. He’s sweet, I thought. I shouldn’t have been so negative about this.

The movie ended before nine. I’d never sat in the section in the middle reserved for handicapped before. Strangely, I enjoyed experiencing his life, even though it was only a small part of it.

“I used to play football.” Andrew said in the parking lot. “Do you play any sports?”

“I horseback ride” I answered. “I have a mini horse. Her name is Colette. She’s the size of a large dog, but that’s just her breed. It’s normal. Of course I can’t ride her though. She’s also really stubborn. That’s also normal for a mini.” I paused and realized I was talking too much.

He laughed. “I’ve never heard of a miniature horse before. She must be funny.” He said. “I don’t have any pets. My mom wants to get me a trained dog to retrieve things for me and stuff. I don’t want one. I do love dogs, but I already get enough attention from this wheelchair. I hate it. Eyes turn when I walk by. People talk to me like there’s something wrong with my brain. But it’s just paralysis.”

I kicked a rock across the black pavement. “When did… it happen?”

“Couple years ago.” He said. “My big sister was the only one who understood me. And now she’s away at college. It’s so lonely at home.”

“I know how that feels.” I said quietly.

“Only child?” He guessed.

“Yea” I lied. Here he was, pouring his heart out to me, sharing his innermost feelings, and I couldn’t tell him about an incident that happened many years ago? I hadn’t talked about Nathan for a long time with anyone. If anyone would understand, it would be Andrew. He knew what it felt like to have to adjust to fast, unexpected change in your life. To wake up one morning and not be able to move your legs- I couldn’t even imagine what things would be going through my mind. It would be very scary for sure. Just like it was terrifying to have a lockdown at shop rite to search for the lost child, when my mom was sobbing and I couldn’t process in my head what really was going on. And just like that, Nathan was taken out of my life.

A car stopped beside us and my mom rolled down the window. “Hey sweetie. How was it?”

“Bye” I said to Andrew. For some reason, I didn’t want to leave him. I slid into the front seat and closed the door.

“You never told me he was handicapped. How sweet of you. You probably made him so happy.”

“Yea” I whispered, waving goodbye to Andrew.
*
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Do not judge people from their appearance. Get to know them, and you will see who they really are. I met someone named Andrew. He took me into his world for one night. We sat in the handicapped section of the movie theatre and I was not ashamed. Andrew is the nicest guy I’ve ever met. Why should I be ashamed? We talked about a stubborn tiny horse and we laughed. We talked about the sad parts of our lives and we stood in silence, feeling not awkward, but understanding and comforted. Andrew may be paralyzed and weak in the legs, but he is strong in the heart. Isn’t that all that really matters?

For the first time in years, I was inspired. Really, truly inspired. My heart told me what to write and my hand just followed. It was one of the nicest feelings, when the writing flows out of you.

If Andrew and I were friends in the future, would we laugh about the way we met, I collapsed in the hallway and him so embarrassed he couldn’t speak? Would he know about Nathan? Yes, probably. Would we still go see movies and walk around empty parking lots at 9pm?

The next day in school I saw Andrew. He smiled and said “Wait, Michelle.” He reached into the pocket behind his wheelchair and took something out. He let it drop into my hands. It was cold and smooth. I looked down and saw a stone, rounded and polished. Carved in it was the word, “Friend”.



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