Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Reading (01/25/07)
TITLE: A final read
By Andrew Curtis
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Tears form in Jack’s eyes as he puts himself in the dog’s shoes. He too knows how it feels to be shunned and pushed aside. “The world can be so cruel sometimes,” Jack murmurs, “she’s just a dog. A dog with a problem. She only wants love and food, but people treat her like dirt. I hate it when people treat me like that so I know how she feels.”
Jack continues to read, slowly, stumbling over several words. His frustration builds because he knows other people can read better than he does. All he wants is to be like those normal people. Why can’t I pick up a book or a magazine and read eloquently like they can? Why do I have to be like this?
He is determined to finish the book. For the past 3 months, he has only been able to look at the pictures. The words were meaningless to him. He didn’t understand them. His anger builds as he looks up toward the ceiling. “Why did you do this to me?, he says, “what did I ever do to you?” He closes his eyes as the pain in his legs return.
He throws the book across the room and clinches his jaw. The tears of sorrow and pity roll down his face. He is ashamed and embarrassed. Life is meaningless to him. He can’t tie his own shoes and can’t feed himself. He feels like a helpless infant; dependant on others for his daily life. He slowly opens his eyes and squints through the rain of tears. The book is lying on the floor, across the room.
Unable to rise, he feels around on the bed for the button to call the nurse. The hospital bed has been his home since the accident, seven months ago. The slick roads caused his truck to loose traction and slam into a tree. His wife Cheri and 5 year old son Bradley were both killed. Jack was thrown from the truck, both of his legs were broke as well as his left hip bone. The doctor’s have told him he may never walk again.
A night with Skipper is the book Bradley was clutching when he died. It was his favorite book. In the year he had it, he asked Jack many times to read it with him, but Jack was always too busy. The nurse had given Jack the book when he awoke one day. The pain of seeing the book made him want to get rid of it. It only reminded him of Bradley. This morning though, he thought he would read it, finally, for Bradley. He never dreamed it would be so difficult.
The nurse arrives and picks the book up when Jack asks her. He explains to her the meaning of the book. She smiles softly and hands it to him. He asks her to sit with him while he finishes the book. She agrees and pulls up a chair next to the bed. She feels the love he has for his son as his voice breaks up when reading. She wipes the tears from his eyes and helps him with the words he can’t pronounce. His body may be broken, but his spirit and love for his family can never be.
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