Alphabet Soup

I don’t get it. I never got it. My mom got A’s. My dad got A’s. My sister gets at least an A+. But I don’t get it. I never got it. I get D’s and F’s. My greatest achievement was getting a C-. Other than that though, my grades are all D’s and F’s. I wonder what life would be like if I got a B. They’d probably die of shock.
I don’t get it. Why can’t I be as good as my sister? Maybe she can read the alphabet soup. I can’t. Maybe that’s the secret, having to read the alphabet soup. It’s a code that can’t be deciphered except by a certain few.
“Hey, Bianca.” I said, almost casually, trying to figure out the secret.
“Yes, Paul?” My sister sighed.
“What’s that say?” I asked, pointing to a giant sign hanging on the airport wall.
Bianca looked at me in shock. “Are you crazy? You seriously can’t read that?”
Think fast. “With all the people, who can?” I asked slowly.
Bianca sighed. “It says, Merry Christmas. Donate to the orphans.”
I looked at the sign. It still looked like alphabet soup. I wondered when it would stop. Underneath the sign was a disorienting feathered red coat.
“I don’t know how he thinks he could impersonate Santa.” Bianca mumbled. “I mean, he couldn’t get out a furry coat. Not feathered, furry.”
Yet little kids are going up to Santa, asking for presents. I wonder how he would react when I asked for the letters to stop moving. I grin at the prospect.
Bianca is sitting on the chair, pulling her coat around her. I don’t get why they have AC on right now. It’s the middle of winter for Pete’s sake! I thought about going up to Santa, and asking for the letters to become words. I decide to do it. After all, I have nothing to lose.
Before I lose my nerve, I go up to him. “Hey.” I said, shrugging.
He nodded back. “What do you want?” He didn’t say it rudely, he just said it. He hadn’t done his make-up right, ‘cause he looked like he’d just seen people die. His face was gray and he was skinny. Like skeleton skinny. His hair hung off of him, and even the fat suit didn’t make him look fat. “Well, don’t you want something?”
“Yeah.” I said, a little more loudly than needed. “I want to get an A.”
“An A. As in school.”
“Yep.”
“Well, I can give you that.”
“Oh really?”
“Yes. You see, I’m a tutor. Maybe if you told me why you aren’t getting A’s, then I can help you.”
“Everything’s all mixed up.” I shrugged.
“Mixed up.” He leaned forward, his brow wrinkling up a little.
“Like, all the letters are in different places. Some are backwards. They all dance around though.”
“All of them.”
“All of them.” I repeated. I fidgeted underneath his stare. “Well. Am I a freak?”
He sat back. “No. No, what you’re experiencing is common. You have dyslexia. There are many others like you. I know how to teach dyslexic people. I can help you.”
“Yeah. The only problem is that I don’t live here.”
“Where do you live?”
“Out of state.”
“Well, give me your city name.”
“Lake Tahoe.”
He nodded. “My brother lives there. He teaches dyslexic people too. I’ll send you to him. Here’s his address.” He gave me a piece of paper. “Tell him Jay sent you. Best I can do. Merry Christmas.”
I smiled back. “Merry Christmas.” I went back to Bianca. I looked at the piece of paper, and felt a little hope.

Today was the day. I would impress my teachers, and make sure everyone noticed me. Ted, Santa Claus’s brother, was helping me. Every single day he would make sure I could read the board. Slowly, the letters grew harder, and I grew smarter.

The test was passed out. “Good luck.” Janice sneered next to me.

The first question was easy. Christopher Columbus sailed across what ocean? That was really stupid. Atlantic. Everyone, even stupid Janice, knows that. The test was really easy, but I sweated like it was 100 degrees. This was my chance. My chance to prove that I, Paul, could pass a test.

I turned my test in, nervous. Would I get an A, or fail? The letters didn’t move, and now that I think about, the tests are actually very easy. I stood out in the hallway, waiting and clutching the strap my backpack. When the teacher came out, I asked, “What did I get?”

He looked at me in surprise. “I haven’t graded it yet.” I wilted. “But, it does look like you got an A. Maybe an A+.” I grinned.

“Thanks!” I said before running down the hall like a child.

“Well, how’s the report card?” My mom asked Bianca.
“3 A’s, 4 B’s, and 2 B-’s.” Bianca replied automatically.

“Paul?” My mom asked tiredly.

I grinned. “All A’s.”

My family turned to me in shock. Then they exploded. Dad demanded to see the report card. Bianca hysterically shrieked that it wasn’t true. Mom burst into tears and told me I was the best boy ever and that this was the best present ever.

Me? I just sat there. Grinning from ear to ear.





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