“Hey Dumbo,” a collection of voices jeered. “Have you gone flying yet today?”
A hand and a handful of peanuts scattered across the crowd. “Or maybe he’s hungry and wants some peanuts.”
As a child I’d always loved the Ringling Brothers Circus…the clowns, the circus and the chaos. I love the chaos of the lions, tigers and bears oh my. Alright fine…I admit maybe this story could do without the sarcasm.
However, this collective circus of chaotic classmates was not exactly what I had in mind. I don’t think my cousin David did either. My body remained almost as if it was frozen in place and my lips were glued together.
Since my cousin’s first day of high school almost three months ago have been filled with teasing and tormenting by his and my classmates.
I’d begged and pleaded with them to stop the nonstop teasing and tormenting but it only fell on their deaf ears and my aunt’s as well. I’d explained to her time and time again that David should not be allowed to attend public school but she insisted. She insisted that he needed exposure to other places and people. I tried to argue otherwise but no one ever listened to me.
Now here I stood in the midst of my Clinton High School classmates, flying peanuts and my cousin David stood in the center as the cause of this chaos and controversy. Suddenly the entire collective was interrupted by a earsplitting whistle from the top steps of the high school commons area.
I gazed with great sense of gratitude at Principal Grayson along with a collective of office staff. “What in the world is going on here?”
As soon as his voice echoed through the commons the rather large crowd of classmates quickly dispersed many running towards the EXIT signs. I raised my fist in tactful triumph, smiling that the Clinton Calvary had finally arrived.
But that smile was quickly dispersed. “What are you smiling about Ms. White?”
“Nothing, sir,” I muttered. Silently begging and pleading to myself that the interrogation wouldn’t resume itself.
“Well then how,” Principal Grayson huffed, “how did your cousin end up in the center of this crowd.”
I blushed. “Well I uh…. I don’t know, sir. I just arrived I didn’t know what to do.”
“I’m ashamed that you’d allow this teasing to happen to David,” he emphasized. “Again after what we talked about last week.”
“But Mr. Grayson…” I stuttered. He angrily glared at me almost as if it was my fault. No matter how hard I tried I was always blamed for the trouble David managed to wrangle himself into.
Tears began streaming down my face and for a moment I almost begged God himself to allow heaven to fall upon me.
“Hi Cassie,” a small voice interrupted my thoughts. “We go home.” His chubby finger pointed down the street. I nodded, grabbed his hand and we headed for his home.
As promptly as we arrived David and I were greeted by my Aunt Janice. Shame and shock played upon her usually proud and poignant face. She motioned for David to go to his room.
“Why momma,” he questioned. “It wasn’t her fault…it mine because I’m dumbo and different.”
“No, you’re not,” Aunt Janice whispered as she gently wrapped her arms around David. “God doesn’t think so remember He loves you as you are.”
Tears now flowed down her face as well. “I am sorry Cassie. I didn’t mean to burden you like this.”
“David has Down Syndrome,” she continued. “His condition isn’t a disease but it does make him different and special.”
I smiled. “I know Aunt Janice. It’s so hard sometimes that I don’t now how to protect him or always explain why the other students are so mean and cruel.”
She nodded. “He’s my cousin and I love him. I wouldn’t change him for the world.”
“Really you mean that,” a voice yelled from the top of the stairs. “I knew it. I told them it wasn’t true.”
His small body ran down the stairs and into our waiting arms. From the kitchen the faint echo of David’s favorite song began playing in the background.
His eye’s widened as he glanced at me. I smiled and nodded. He bowed like a proper gentleman and we began to dance our way across the linoleum.
“There’s a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”- Ecclesiastes 3:4
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