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Little, Ugly Boy
The dark, hungry eyes protruded from the gaunt face, scanning the bodies that hustled by without a second glance at the young boy sitting along the aged brick wall. The sullen face was really only a mask . The dear child, about five, had seen more darkness and pain than many ten times his age. His appearance quickly showed what he was, a beggar: poor, dirty, and, so it seemed, sullen. But this little boy’s skin was only a cover for who he was. He was a lovely creature that took the greatest delight in beauty. Beauty that caused him a pleasant ache, but an ache none the least. It hurt him to see such beauty for his life was so ugly. He was so ugly. There was a time when this little boy tried to clean himself each day, and run his hands through his hair. He even stole clothes from a store that he might make himself beautiful. But his dirt-free face was still ugly. The hollow cheeks, haunted grey eyes, and yellow-tinged skin was still there. The grieved young boy stripped himself of the new clothes, replacing them with his rags, and even returned the clothes to the front door of the store he stole them from. From that day on the little boy took to watching for beauty. Even thirty seconds of gazing after a bright red hat was enough beauty to sustain the dear boy one more day. When he lay under a bench at night, nibbling on stake bread thrown out of a bakery, the little boy would envision the crimson hat and dream beautiful dreams of rich red, while his helpless body shivered in the cold.
One day the young boy was sitting in his usual; spot along the brick wall when he spotted the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. A young girl was walking hand-in-hand with her father. She was smiling up at him, and he down at her. She had beautiful auburn ringlets curling around her face and twisted in a braid down her back. She was wearing a bright, sky blue dress that matched perfectly with her round, innocent eyes. The little boy was transfixed on her whole being, trying to engrave the vision in his mind that he might never forget it. The young boy was so enraptured that he did not even notice that she was looking back. The little blue eyed girl tugged on her father’s hand and looked over to him. Her father shook his head and sighed, “There is just so much to do.” When the two passed right by the little boy she looked to him, through him, with a weak smile and tears in her eyes. Most of the time the dear boy abhorred pity. He felt enough pity that he did not need anymore. But the look in that one little girl’s face changed his world. Each day he rushed to the same spot to sit and wait for her. Weeks passed and she did not walk by again, but unlike so many other beautiful things, her image never left the little boy’s mind.
Finally one day the little boy spotted a blue dress in the distance! Oh, he knew it was her. As she got closer, the young boy could see that this time she was with her mother, a lovely lady, with blue eyes as well, but not so big or so innocent. The little girl spotted the little, beauty-starved boy and let go of her mother’s hand and rushed to see him. “Hello!” she gasped, pulling a lolly-pop from her mouth.
“Hello,” he barely whispered, suddenly very afraid.
“It’s ok,” she smiled. As she handed him her lolly-pop. “You don’t mind germies do you?” she asked with guilt, wishing it was still in its original wrapping. The little boy shook his head and took the offering just as the mother came to her daughter’s side.
“Honey, we need to get home now. That was very sweet of you.” The little girl nodded and followed her mother along. But she quickly turned back around and rushed back to the little boy.
“Silversky Lane. The big yellow house is mine. Can you come?” The little boy’s eyes grew huge, but he nodded. She rushed back to her impatient mother and the ear boy followed very skillfully behind. After he watched the little girl and her mother enter the beautiful yellow home (for a home it was, not a house) with gardens and flower boxes he grew very scared. He had never been in such a beautiful place, he was so dirty! So ugly! He sat quietly on the curb as the world grew silent. But then he heard running water somewhere and listened very carefully. The little boy found a small stream in the backyard of the yellow house and quickly washed his face, neck, arms, legs, every visible piece of his body with such vigor his skin turned from its sickly yellow to a flushed pink. He then rinsed his hair and used his torn shirt as a towel. The little boy put his shirt back on and walked not to the back door, as was his fist instinct, but to the large, wooden front door. He rang the door bell and, again, smoothed down his hair. He heard small patters to the door and it swung wide open before he could dart away. There in the doorway stood the beautiful, blue-eyes, auburn-haired, little girl, grinning from ear to ear, beckoning him in. Slowly he backed away, for his bewilderment left him breathless. Her small white hand grabbed his small pink one and she hurried him onto the house, leaving to door open. “Wait here please! Let me go get Momma and Daddy!” and she whisked up the winding steps calling, “Mommy! Daddy! Someone is here!” The little boy turned and looked at the bright, welcoming furniture and paintings. Then he saw the door. He could run and then not have to risk getting thrown out. But he could still see the eager face of the beautiful little girl. And there she came- rushing toward him! “Momma, remember? I told him where to come. Daddy, please? We can all be a family.”
The tall, strong man with a gently face kneeled before the quaking little boy, “Son, do you have a home? Any family?” The boy was quiet, thinking hard. He remembered nothing but the streets. An occasional man with a touch of sandpaper occasionally grabbed him and knocked him and dragged him to a homeless shelter, but that man never woke up one morning.
“No,” he said. Then he remembered what he once heard a nicely dressed boy say, “no, sir.” The man smiled into the poor, hollowed eyes and then turned to his wife.
“And we always think there is nothing to do. Go and run this little fellow a bath and I will grab some leftover supper. Annalee, can you show this young man his room?” Annalee squealed and threw her arms around her father’s leg. Then she grabbed the little boy’s hand and rushed him up the stairs behind her mother.
“What’s your name?” she whispered. The little boy smiled, he had always wanted to have a name. He thought and thought.
“What do you think it is?” he asked.
“Danny?” she said, a question…but at the same time quite a statement.
“That’s it!” he giggled. Giggled. Danny did not remember ever laughing. He liked it. Annalee giggled too. And for the first time Danny did not even mind that he was ugly.