Nora Nodsworth was normal…
She liked to walk her dog…on a tightrope, paint masterpieces…on her face, watch TV…upside down, and ride through the park…on her unicycle. Nora dreamed of performing in a circus.
But in school, kids whispered…
“Nora is weird, she’s not normal. Why does she wear that silly striped hat? And a polka dot dress? Why is her hair a swirly curly mess? Will she ever stop humming and tapping her feet?”
Usually, Nora was too busy drawing clowns and writing funny stories in her third seat back, center row, to notice, but this day she heard their cruel words.
"Weird? Why?" She wondered. She patted her hair peeking out from her hat. "My hair is puffy." She glanced at her polka dots. "I think they’re pretty, like punctuation marks that decorate my stories. And what’s wrong with humming?"
At lunchtime, Nora didn’t touch her peanut butter and pickle sandwich or her cotton candy. She didn’t even tell one knock-knock joke.
On the bus ride home, Nora didn’t hum the National Anthem.
At the dinner table, she was quiet.
“Is something wrong, Pumpkin Pie?” Nora’s dad ducked under the table and popped up wearing a clown nose.
Nora didn’t laugh.
“You haven’t juggled your meatballs once.” Nora’s mom ducked under the table and popped up wearing her pig nose.
Nora didn’t laugh. “Kids at school said I’m weird.”
“Oh, puff-n-fluff! Said Mr. Nodsworth, “Nora, you’re as normal as Neptune. You do what comes naturally to you. You weave fun into life. You’re a Nodsworth.”
“They think I dress strange.”
“Cracker-jack, smacker-dack! Said Mrs. Nodsworth, “Nora, you’re as normal as fireworks on the Fourth of July. Your clothes show how happy you are inside.”
Nora inched her way back to her bedroom to go to sleep early.
Mrs. Nodsworth peeked in the doorway. “Why aren’t you bouncing on the bed…I thought you were Nora the Great–the star of the Nodsworth circus.”
She kissed Nora’s forehead. “Goodnight sleepyhead. Dream happy and wake up a new Nora.”
In the morning, Nora did feel new. "I know…" Nora leaped out of bed and dug through the fabric rainbow in her closet, tossing feathered and flowered hats, beaded berets, and a jeweled crown. "I’ll wear the plain grey shirt and jeans Grandma bought me…without trimmings. Today, I’ll be one hundred percent totally normal."
In class, Nora sat still as a bunny on a highway. Zack recited the Pledge of Allegiance. Justin counted to twenty by twos. Emily read her list of prepositions.
Miss Carol asked the class, “Where are your smiles today?”
A few spoke up: “We don’t feel like smiling. Today is one hundred percent totally boring.”
Miss Carol nodded. She glanced at the center row, third seat back. Usually the third seat back, center row shined a cheerful rainbow. Today the third seat back, center row sulked a grey cloud.
With a spark in her eyes, Miss Carol remembered show and tell: “Nora, I believe we ran out of time for show and tell yesterday. It’s your turn.”
"Oh no! I forgot about my…I can’t show that – no one will ever think I’m normal."
Everyone from the first row to the last watched Nora. Would she show something cool? They hoped.
Slowly, Nora raised a few fingers. “Do I have too?”
“Yes, we all want to see what’s hidden in your bag, don’t we class?”
Freddy called out, “I hope it’s something slimy!”
“Okay.” Nora reached into her bag, carefully lifted the thing, and pulled the cloth.
“Oohs” and “Aahs” bounced around the room. And some “whatisits?”
“This is my flea circus. See them cross the tightrope…and bounce on the trapeze.”
“Wow!” Twenty kids crowded around Nora for a closer look; even Miss Carol…until someone lifted the lid and few escaped onto her arm.
“Aah! Close the lid!” The class laughed as Miss Carol leaped and wiggled like a wild monkey.
“Well, class, at least you’re smiling again! Let’s thank Nora for spicing up our day.”
Everyone cheered, “Nora is the greatest!”
Nora hummed her favorite tune on the bus and turned cartwheels all the way home.
Mrs. Nodsworth hugged Nora at the door. “You’re better than normal.”
Nora laid out tomorrow’s outfit…her orange striped jeans, her pink polka-dotted shirt, her lime green sneakers, and her floppy rainbow hat.
She was ready to brighten up the center row. “I’m going to be one hundred percent totally Nora.”
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