Rusty Needlesworth was not your average third-grader. The nine-year-old had severe panic attacks whenever anyone threatened him, even in a joking manner. Now if someone actually did any physical harm to Rusty, such as a minor punch to his shoulders or chest, he ran around the classroom screaming “Ow! Ow! Ow!” over and over as if he had been doused in kerosene and lit on fire. It was the craziest thing you ever did see.
Now whenever a new student came to our school, it was customary for the rest of the students to try and trick the new student in to assaulting Rusty. For the record, I never participated in such shenanigans, especially true if you’re reading this and are friends with my mother. One particularly interesting girl showed up from a city called Boston. She had a funny accent and looked like she could whoop most of the boys in the class. Her name was Tess. She had brown hair and big brown eyes.
“Rusty likes to have pushing contests with new students,” Harry Hanover informed Tess.
“Oh, he does?” Tess replied. “Well at my school in Boston, I was the best fighter. I even beat up all the boys.”
“Yeah, well maybe Boston boys ain’t as tough as ole’ Rusty,” Harry countered. “Probably best if you just let it go; you might end up getting hurt.”
“Oh no, I’m not letting anything go,” Tess announced to the whole classroom, just before recess. “I’ll show you, Rusty!”
Rusty hadn’t been paying any attention to what was going on around him, and when he heard Tess yelling, he looked as dumbfounded as a cat trying to catch a flashlight beam. “What is she going to show me?” he nervously asked.
“I think she wants to have a pushing contest with you¸ Rusty,” I replied.
“Oh no! Why would she want to do that?” Rusty inquired.
“I guess it’s a Boston thing.”
Rusty nervously watched the clock on the wall. I thought he looked like he was going to faint as soon as the bell rang, announcing the beginning of recess. Tess looked like she was about to burst with excitement. I was starting to worry that Rusty might get seriously hurt by this Boston Tess.
The bell rang. Rusty took off for the playgroud. Tess was right on his tail. The rest of the students were right behind the both of them. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I knew that whatever did happen, it would become a historical event at Greenberg Elementary. If Rusty let a girl beat him in a push fight, it would follow him through the rest of his school days.
“Stop running from me,” Boston Tess yelled as Rusty continued to run.
“I don’t want to have a push fight with you,” Rusty yelled, zigzagging between the merry-go-round and the monkey bars.
“Why not, you scared?” she yelled back.
“Because I think you’re pretty!” Rusty answered.
Everyone stopped, everyone, except Rusty. There was complete silence on the playground, followed by a collective “Ow!” from the crowd. I couldn’t believe what Rusty had just yelled out in front of the entire class. I said a silent prayer that God would somehow intervene and create a distraction big enough to keep Rusty from becoming the most famous loser in elementary school history.
“Kids, everyone come back in the school, a tornado warning was just issued!” Mrs. Nelson¸ our teacher, yelled. She looked scared and began pushing us all back into the building. We all lined the hallways inside the school and sat on the floor facing the walls, our heads down.
Twenty minutes later, we heard a loud rumbling noise from outside the school. When it sounded like the storm had passed, we all made our way back outside to survey the damage. “Ow!” Boston Tess said, surveying all the downed trees 100 yards from the school. “We never have tornadoes in Boston.”
I couldn’t believe that my silent prayer had led to a change in human history. Everyone had completely forgotten about the crazy thing Rusty said to Greenberg’s newest student. There was no doubt in my mind, God agreed with my theory that Rusty would have been a goner without divine intervention. The way that tornado just showed up, well, it was the craziest thing you ever did see.
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