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Topic: Laughter (10/18/04)
By Barbie Jones
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How long had it been since she had friends to play with like that? Better yet, how many moves had stolen friendships away from her? Why did Daddy have to move them so many times? Didn’t he know how important friendship was to a nine year old?
Watching the children was painful, but she could not tear herself away. Sitting on the porch and allowing the sun to shine on her face lifted her spirits. Listening to the birds singing and caused her heart to praise the Lord for allowing her to experience such a beautiful day.
Shelly was lost in thought when she heard one of the boys call out to her. “Hey! You wanna play? She panicked. She couldn’t possibly play with those kids. She wanted to go inside but it was too late… they started towards her. The boy that had called out reached her first. He introduced himself then the others. “Hey, I’m Shawn and this is Kayla, Renee and Tim.”
Shawn, Renee and Tim appeared to be around her age. Kayla was the tallest of the gang and Shelly perceived to be the oldest and probably the ringleader. Each of the children eyed her curiously.
“So what’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” Kayla teased. Shelly blushed and shook her head. “No, I’m Shelly. We just moved here yesterday and…” Tim interrupted, “yeah, yeah, yeah. So you wanna play with us or not? She looked at each kid and saw pure joy on his or her faces. They weren’t like most of the kids she encountered during their constant moving. These guys were friendly and seemed to really want to play with her. But she didn’t dare. She smoothed her dress down over her legs and whispered, “I can’t.”
Renee touched her arm. “Ask your mother. We will wait for you. We were about to go to the candy store you can come with us. Since you’re the new kid on the block, we’ll all pitch in and buy you a Snickers or something.” The others hit Renee yelling, “Speak for yourself.” Shelly could tell they were teasing. They seemed to be genuine and their laughter was infectious. She laughed with them. Laughter, something she missed terribly. She sighed and thought, ‘I’d better get this over with. No sense in thinking they will be my friends once they find out.’ She took a deep breath and raised her dress to her knees. On both legs were braces. The kids stop hitting each other and looked at her legs.
Tim spoke first. “Stop staring guys. So what happened to you? Can you walk or not?” Shelly’s heart lurched. Here it comes. She sighed and said, “I was born this way. I can walk, but not very fast or very far. I can’t run and when I get tired, I have to use my wheelchair.” Renee sat next her. “It’s, it’s - it’s - ok if you can’t run, we – we - we still wanna to be your friends, right guys?”
Kayla smirked, “yeah, around here we stick together. If you look at Shawn real close, you’ll see he’s got a glass eye. Renee stutters, but I guess you figured that out.” She lifted her hair and revealed a hearing aid. “Nobody’s perfect. We all have something wrong with us. Tim doesn’t have a physical thing, get it? So do you want to run with us or not?”
Tim stepped up and pushed Kayla playfully. Looking Shelly in the eyes he asked “So, where’s your wheelchair?”
Shelly’s heart swelled with joy. She couldn’t believe these children weren’t judging nor feeling sorry for her. A big grin broke out over her face. She wanted to weep, but instead said, “In the house.” She called out, “Ma, can you bring my chair?”
Her mother came to the door and immediately tears filled her eyes. Other children surrounded her daughter and she was laughing. She rushed and brought out the wheel chair and watched the children help Shelly into it, then take off down the street. She thanked God and whispered Job 8:21 “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with joyful shouting.”