Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Clothes (11/02/12)
TITLE: Grape Ape
By Darleen Coon
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Katie tried to sink as low in her seat as possible, but soon another boy started in the taunting. “That shirt sure is purple, Katie. Do you know that you look like ‘Grape Ape’?”
He started the chant, “Grape ape, Grape ape,” while making monkey motions with his hands.
Soon most of the kids on the bus were chanting “Grape ape, grape ape.’"
Katie sank as low as she could and hid her flushed face behind her school books.
When the bus stopped where she was supposed to get off, she waited for the other kids to get off, before trudging to the door. Once off the bus, she shuffled down the road towards home.
She was almost home, when she noticed her neighbor lady sweeping her porch.
Mrs. Carmichael yelled out a greeting, “Why so down in the mouth, Miss Katie?”
Mrs. Carmichael set her broom down and came off her porch, “I know what will make your frown turn upside down,” she sang.
She grabbed Katie’s hand and pulled her into the house. She sat her down at the table, grabbed a glass, poured some milk into it, and handed her a plate of chocolate chip cookies. “Cookies and milk always make me feel better,” she declared with a smile.
Katie pushed the plate away, “I’m sorry, I’m just not in the mood.” Her lower lip began to tremble and tears soon began to slide down her cheeks.
Katie impatiently reached up her hand to brush them away.
Mrs. Carmichael reached out to hold Katie’s other hand, “Aw, Sweetie, tell me all about it,” she coaxed while stroking her hand and reaching for the tissue box.
Mrs. Carmichael listened intently while Katie told her tale of abuse between sobs.
“Tell you what, Sweetie, why don’t you start coming here after school and you and I can be friends. I have lots of chores, I could use some help with. I know your Momma works until later and your sisters aren’t always nice to you,” she suggested while reaching for the box of tissues to blow her own nose.
So, although the teasing did not end, now Katie had a safe haven to go to.
Every day after school she and Mrs. Carmichael worked at one thing or another. They baked delicious cookies, canned jelly, learned to embroider, and she even helped Katie to buy flattering clothes from The Good Will Store.
They found out that they shared the same birthday, that they both loved the color pink, and that chocolate chip cookies where both of their favorites.
One day Momma gathered all of the children in the living room. Without warning, she announced, “Kids, I am getting remarried and we are moving to a different town.”
Katie did not hear anything else Momma said, she sat in stunned silence. She couldn’t believe that Momma would make her leave her only friend.
Mrs. Carmichael tried to put a positive spin on the distressing news, although her eyes were bright with unshed tears. “This will be an opportunity for you to start all over. No one at your new school will know you. We will do a makeover for you and everyone will think you are awesome,” she hugged Katie.
Somehow, Katie was able to make the new school work. She was able to make friends with kids her own age, she joined clubs, and was no longer tormented by the other kids.
When she was in high school, she noticed a little girl being picked on. Suddenly, she had a flash back and in her mind’s eye that little girl was her 5 years earlier.
She resolved that she was going to help that little girl and other children who were dealing with bullying, self-esteem issues, family issues, or were depressed.
Now, several years later, she was standing at the podium of a banquet with 500 people staring at her, waiting for her to make a speech.
Across the stage was a banner emblazoned with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. She imagined Mrs. Carmichael sitting out in the crowd smiling, giving her a “thumbs up.”
“Tonight, I want to tell you about a woman who cared….” She began.
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