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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Green (10/22/09)

TITLE: Mikey Likes It!
By Deborah Engle


With twelve years between us, there wasn’t much of a relationship between my youngest brother and me until after Mom started working. That summer, Mikey would be my responsibility. Taking the three-year-old for walks, playing at the park and fixing his meals were routine events that filled our days, but they spoke to his heart. He became very attached to me, and in the early mornings he’d come tapping on my bedroom door, wanting to crawl into bed. His slim little body didn’t take up much room, and we’d curl up together until it was time to rise. Later I’d help him get dressed. In his favorite green shirt and green jeans, he was long and slender and green. I called him a “Greenie Beanie” and he laughed.

His big blue eyes and very blond hair invited plenty of attention. By the time Mikey turned six though, he had decided he’d rather have green eyes. In fact, if Mikey could be king, everything would have been green. “When you buy paint for MY room, make sure it’s green, Okay?” “Do birthday cakes come in green? Cuz that’s the kind I want.” “The green bike’s the best. I choose the green one.”

When summer ended, Mom made other arrangements for Mikey’s care. High school claimed my attention, and then marriage took me away from home. I said good-bye without giving him much thought, only to discover years later that he had mourned my departure. It would also be years later that he would discover he suffered from Muscular Dystrophy.

For a young man just ready to enter into adulthood, it was a devastating blow. For years, he worked at dead end jobs, doing as much as his diminishing strength allowed. Eventually, he learned of an agency that could help him. He would have an opportunity to learn a trade that could accommodate his physical limitations. To do that, though, he needed to go away to a school on the other side of the state.

Mike’s timid nature made him reluctant to step out on his own. Orientation Day would give him an idea of what he could expect at school, but for such a long trip he would need a driver. I was the only one available, and in spite of my reluctance to drive on the freeway, I was glad to have a way to offer my support.

Early in the morning I picked him up and we were on our way. The drive turned out to be wonderful. It was a beautiful fall day, traffic was light, and Mike had good directions. For miles we enjoyed the view, driving through the wide-open spaces of central Michigan. The journey passed quickly, and we arrived right on schedule.

The day was filled with tours and demonstrations and even a free lunch, which included the biggest servings of steamed broccoli I ever saw. The reality of seeing the school brought some of his concerns to the forefront, so as we began the ride home, we talked. I even joked with him a bit.

“I don’t know, Mike. Maybe the thought of giant green veggies doesn’t hold much appeal, but you have to love those beautiful green floors.

He soon settled down to think things through, and I focused on the drive. We had several miles to go over quiet country roads before we reached the freeway. As I rounded a bend, we came upon an unforgettable sight. A canopy of trees arched high over the road, and though beginning to change, the green leaves still clung to the branches. The sun was brilliant, and trying valiantly to penetrate the foliage cover. The effect was gorgeous and it truly did take my breath away. It was like driving through a radiant emerald tunnel sprinkled with twinkling drops of sunlight. The sight brought Mike out of his reverie. At first we were both speechless, then in his typically understated way, he commented, “Well, that’s all right.”

Too soon we passed through that enchanted place, but not long afterwards, Mike spoke up again. “You know, I’m feeling better about all this now. I think I can do it. After all, it’s not forever.”

I’ve always heard that colors can affect your outlook, and that day a very extraordinary vision in green gave my brother a positive perspective. The skills he acquired at STIRK served him well for many years, but his best memory of school? A teacher named Jade Hope.

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This article has been read 578 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Ruth Brown11/01/09
Sweet story.
Catrina Bradley 11/01/09
An interesting essay dedicated to a special person. I enjoyed reading it. If this isn't a true story, it sure reads like one. The voice is very natural. And I like the last line - great ending to meld the story plot to your theme!
Patricia Turner11/01/09
Your story sounds very realistic. I like Mikey.
Colin Swann11/01/09
This brought back memories - my sister got lumbered with me and never let me forget it. She can tell a tale or two about me too.

I enjoyed this and like the mood. Thanks - Colin
Betty Castleberry11/02/09
I agree with another commenter who wondered if this might be true. Sure sounds like it might be.

I can relate as I have a sister who is twelve years older than I am.

This was an enjoyable, well written read. Love the last line.
Bryan Ridenour11/02/09
Extremely well written and seems to be a possible "true to life?" Nicely done!
Chely Roach11/02/09
What a tender, authentic, sweet, sweet story. Lovely in so many ways.