Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Risk (05/17/12)
TITLE: If At First...
By Deborah Engle
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For most youngsters his age, this would not have been a problem. It would have been a simple matter to take a few steps and grab that blankie up, but most 16-month-olds have been walking for ages. Benny, though, refused to yield to that tradition. In reality, on more than one occasion, he had been spotted taking a step or two, but only when he was alone; and as if to deny it ever happened, he had dropped to his knees as soon as he realized he was being watched. His resistance to walking was so complete that if someone tried to make him stand up, he would hold his legs straight out in front of him as if he were sitting on the floor, making him look like Aladdin on an invisible flying carpet.
At any rate, for an experienced crawler like Benny, getting to his blankie wouldn’t normally be a problem, but the activity surrounding him had been escalating over the past hour and could legitimately be described as chaotic. Even now, he unconsciously flexed his dimpled fingers, remembering the weight of Laura’s foot tromping on them as she pranced into the room earlier. After that, Benny had found a secluded place to play at the end of the couch. He leaned against it now, his gaze intent on his precious blankie which seemed to be calling his name.
Though not anxious to enter the fray, his need was strong. He began to lower himself to the floor, but then stopped. Amid the swirling forest of legs and bodies, Joy was hopping toward him, and his eyes widened in alarm. Only half an hour ago Joy had decided Benny would make a fine pony and had plopped herself down on his back as he was crawling toward the toy-box. Now, seeing her heading his way, he pulled himself back up against the couch. Shaking his head, he pointed and waved one arm towards her, while declaring, “No! Go!”
Benny didn’t like being Joy’s pony.
But he did need his blankie. His consternation produced just a bit of drool that momentarily perched on his lip, then reluctantly slid down and was gone. With it went his distraction.
Once more, his eyes found the spot of blue. Once more, he knelt down, and this time, he moved out… closer, then closer.
“Oops! Are you okay? I didn’t see you down there!” Ronnie was six, and big enough to lift Benny up and give him a comforting hug. Tender-hearted Ronnie hadn’t meant to hurt him, but when all was said and done, Benny was back against the couch and his little blue blankie was still across the room.
If ever a little one looked like he could use a cuddle with his little blue blankie, it was Benny.
At first, tears welled up in those blue eyes, his lip quivered, and his body sagged against the couch. But then he grew still, as if fighting an internal battle. For the next few minutes, more than one emotion flitted across his face. When at last he blinked, his expression was transformed. A junior-sized portion of resolve and determination were etched into his baby face. His eyes darted around the room one time, then settled on his blankie. With quickened breath, he stood up tall and moved one foot forward. The other one followed, hesitantly, and both arms worked to keep his balance. Then again… five, nine, fifteen… each step deliberate.
Within seconds, the cherished prize was clutched in his hands. With those steps, Benny had become the victor, in more ways than he knew.
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