“ACHOO!” I take in a deep breath and shake my head. I’ve had a runny nose and been sneezing for the last few days. Hopefully I won’t come down with a cold, even though it’s that time of year and it’s spreading like the plague.
A reddish leaf falls off of the maple tree directly above me and onto my head. I pull it off and twirl it around in my fingers as I come to the entrance to an alleyway.
If I were to go through here I would get home faster, I think to myself, but the guys that usually bully kids like me take this way home all the time… I shrug and jog down the alley.
I go a short distance down the maze-like network of back roads and then I hear the familiar sounds of someone getting beat up. It sounds like it’s happening just around the corner so I stop at the corner and cautiously peek around.
The victim of the attack is one of the new kids at school in my math class. I had wanted to make friends with him earlier, but was too shy to say anything. Now would be a perfect chance to prove myself a worthy friend, but I would probably just get beat up too.
“Come on! Where’s your money? Everyone in this school has to pay insurance to us if they don’t want to get hurt.” Says the biggest bully, Tyler. I’d fallen for that trick when I was the new kid; it’s a big fat lie.
The new kid holds his bloody nose and leans forward like he’s going to fall over. Tyler pushes him back up into a standing position and shakes him back and forth, making the bloody nose worse. “Where is it?” “I don’t have any money! Not here or at home!” the kid pushes his kind of shaggy black hair out of his eyes and looks pleadingly at Tyler.
I pull my head back around the corner and close my eyes. “Dear God, please, send someone to help. And fast. This kid isn’t going to hold up for much longer and… ah… ah… AH…” I close my eyes and try and get my finger up to my nose. Too slow. “ACHOO!!!!!”
The sounds of fighting around the corner immediately stop. “What was that?” I hear one of Tyler’s friends/goons ask. I hold my breath. “I don’t know,” I hear Tyler’s voice say uneasily, “but I heard that the Principal has a cold…” I grin and lower my voice as I hide behind an empty garbage can. “You three leave that boy alone! You hear me?” “Y-Y-Yes sir!” the answer comes.
“And if you try any more of this funny business, I will notify your parents! Got it?”
I hear the noise of feet running away down the alley and the thud of someone dropping to the ground and I jump out from my hiding place. I round the corner and see the new kid sitting there, holding his nose. I run up and drop down on my knees next to him. “Hey, are you okay?” The boy looks up at me and shrugs.
“Fine I guess. Considering the circumstances. Hey, I heard the Principal…”
“That was actually me.”
His eyes open wider and he stares at me. “Really?” this time, I shrug. “Well, I guess you could say it was God.” The kid seems to understand and smiles a little. “I see I wasn’t the only one praying.” I smile back and help him to his feet.
“So, what’s your name?”
“I’m Quinn.” I stick out my hand and we shake. “How far away is your house?” I ask. “Not too far,” Michael answers.
“I’m on Maple Drive. You know where that is?”
“I should! I live there too!”
And that is how one little sneeze sent from heaven got me my best friend.
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