Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Bookends (01/30/14)
TITLE: Annabelle’s Books
By Robin Ocasio
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Sitting on the edge of the bed, she stuffed her feet into her “special” shoes, and then latched the clasps on her braces. First one leg and then the other, the process was difficult, and it made her tired, but she was determined to do a good job all on her own. The hard plastic was padded, but they still hurt her. She looked forward to taking them off, but for now she would wear them. They would help her stand and walk across the stage.
Annabelle longed for the day when she would no longer need braces, but knew that was unlikely. The people who dressed in white coats said that. Each time Annabelle visited them, they would poke and prod her, look at black and white pictures, and say, “stand tall, bend over, walk across the room, now come back” Afterwards they would look at her, but speak to Mum and Dad. Using big words, saying things like - base line normal, developmentally disabled and degenerative bone disease. Mom and Dad looked sad, but tried to put on a happy face anyway. So she did too. That’s why her smile was always so big. Big as the sky.
People talked over her head, like she wasn’t in the room. That is, the ones who did not stare or look away. Then, Mrs. Ma -gill-i-cu-tty - her name is difficult to say - came to tea. She had sat on the princess chairs, and looked right at Annabelle. The two talked and talked. Annabelle had such a good time, Mum invited more people to tea.
Then Hoity-toity, Alma Perkins came. Mum said not to call her that, but dad did. Alma was looking at Annabelle, when she said something that made Mum real mad. Sometimes, when everything was quiet, she would close her eyes, scrunch her face and concentrate with all her might, but no matter how much she tried, Annabelle didn’t know why children should be put away in a home or why Alma was pointing at her. “I am home. I’m not a child. I am 39 years old. That’s how many candles I blew out last. I counted them, twice. I got 39 new books, and a new set of bookends to help them stand up tall. I love books. The pictures are my favorite part. Words are nice too.”
Mum answered something about Alma’s gigantic nose, which caused Alma to choke on her tea. She spit her teeth out. “How is that possible?” They landed in her teacup. Seeing the mess, Annabelle used her napkin to clean it, but accidentally bumped the cup, sending everything to the floor. Mum then called Dad to move the couch so Alma could find her teeth. Alma left, slamming the door really hard. It had hurt Annabelle’s ears and made her jump.
Dad started calling Mum his little firecracker. Annabelle knew it was because Mum started campaigning to educate folks about diversity and equality. Tonight they would be guest speakers at a Diversity Banquette.
The words had sounded strange, so Annabelle asked, “What’s diversity? What’s equality?” That had made Dad and Mum talk and talk. “But not in baby talk. She didn’t like baby talk.” Annabelle thought she understood. She smiled. She knew just what she would say. With that happy thought, she thumped down the stairs, practicing her speech all the way.
“Diversity and equal rights are just like my new books and bookends. Life and death, diversity and equal rights are the bookends. We are the books. We are all normal. We are all different. We all belong. We are the same. We need the bookends in order to stand tall. God made both the books and the bookends. Without God the bookends are empty. Without God the books will fall.”
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