Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Blue (10/08/09)
TITLE: Even A Sissy Can Be Brave
By Linda Boulanger
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I climbed on the bus determined not to be afraid of this young man who was about as approachable and likable as a recluse spider. Being quite the social butterfly myself, I couldn’t help but believe he was a simple caterpillar in need of help in freeing itself from its cocoon.
A boldness I really did not feel exuded from my being as I passed by my friends. Offers to share seats were hurled at me as I walked down the aisle. I simply shook my head, my eyes focused on the single figure at the back of the bus. Three seats in front of him and two before the seat opposite were left empty. They were always left open; deliberately, blatantly…creating separation.
I did not look at him though I could feel those stormy blue eyes glaring at me as I slid into the seat across the aisle. After several moments I turned to him, my own brows furrowed in a perfected scowl.
“You can stop staring at me. I’m not moving.” I half stuck my tongue out at him. “I’m a lot more scared of Driver Mike than I am the likes of you. He’d snatch my head clean off for standing up on his bus while it’s moving. Besides, you’re nobody special to think you can hog the whole back of the bus to yourself.” I wagged my finger at him, made a tsking noise, and shook my head.
Now I was not a big girl by any means. Petite would have done well to describe me and I was fully aware that Carter Sinclair could have taken me out, most likely with one blow. That boy was definitely physically fit; muscular head to toe. Somehow I knew that he wouldn’t hurt me. Call it revelation. Call it instinct. Either way, I was right.
Carter silently stared at me for several moments then shook his head in dismay. “You called Sissy?” he asked.
“That’s right. My given name. Not some label or shortcut.”
He nodded. “It doesn’t fit you.”
“No?” I’d always rather liked it.
“You’re as bold as a lion.” His words enlightened me to his train of thought.
“Or dumb as dirt,” I added with a humor-laden laugh. It made Carter smile. He had a nice smile. It softened his eyes.
Over several days I got him to relax some. Soon enough we were talking all the way to school and others began sitting around us.
“You’re not so bad,” I told him one day.
“Well, you are,” he answered back to my chagrin. I squinted at him.
He laughed. “You’re ruining my reputation as inapproachable.” As if to verify, a group of girls walked by waving and giggling and several boys said hello. Carter politely acknowledged each one.
“Next thing we know you’ll be running for student class president or accepting a nomination as prom king.” I rolled my eyes.
Years later, Carter confessed to Mrs. Sinclair that she’d saved his life on that bus. With tears of gratitude softening his dark blues, he’d told her of a world filled with misery that was all he’d known before he’d been torn away from his parents and thrust into foster care. He’d found no reason to go on there either. His life seemed pointless until the tart tongue of a brave, blue-eyed beauty was turned on him. She’d taunted him from his wallowing and made him look forward to the daily banter and matching of wits.
The she was me; a girl named Sissy who had found enough bravery inside to approach the struggling caterpillar. I hadn’t truly freed him. He’d had to do that himself. I’d merely offered my friendship and encouragement and believed in the beautiful butterfly that lay captive inside. I’d shared in the calming of the stormy blue eyes.
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