Please read “About this project and the Author” for more information on my project. Kindness, when unexpected…
“Another summer had gone by and it was time to go to back to school. As she had done once before, Denise accompanied me that morning, along with another kid who’s identity escapes me, to make sure we were comfortable with our new surroundings. She walked me to my classroom and helped me to my desk, then told me to sit tight while she walked the other kid to his classroom and said she would be right back. I was suddenly overwhelmed by a moment of fear or panic as Denise walked away. I didn’t know what it was but it took me completely by surprise, and I could barely control it. I felt this powerful urge to cry but I knew I would never live it down if I let myself go. At the time, I actually reminded myself that I already had enough going against me without adding this kind of episode to my resume.
When Denise came back and saw the look on my face, she kneeled next to me and told me to breathe deeply. It took a moment for me to calm down a bit and class was about to begin, so Denise had to leave. I had become more dependent on the orphanage and the educators for emotional stability.
I remained in that state pretty much all morning and after lunch, we were summoned outside the school for the yearly group picture. Being the diminutive that I was, I always ended up in the first row for those pictures and I couldn’t bring myself to smile when the photographer asked us to. Immediately after the first take, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned around to see this tall kid standing behind me. He couldn’t have been more than two years older than me but he was tall and big.
“My name is Marty”, he said.
“Daryl, if anybody gives you any trouble, you come to me and I’ll deal with it.”
I never found out what prompted him to tell me this. Was it a teacher who approached him, knowing he was of a kind nature, and told him to look out for me or did he decide on his own that no one was going to pick on me. All I know is, on the second take of the group picture, I had a big smile on my face. Marty was one of the cool kids at our school and word got out pretty fast that anybody messing with me would end up having to answer to him. He remained my protector for the entire time I spent there.
Marty wasn’t the only one looking out for me at that school. Our music teacher was a calm, soft spoken young woman in her late twenties. At the beginning of our first class with her, Laura gave us permission to call her by her first name which was kind of a new thing at the time. With her round glasses, long curly hair and an eclectic sense of fashion, she fit the perfect definition of a hippy. She was kind and patient with all of us but I’m pretty sure teaching wasn’t her first choice. In hindsight, maybe she saw teaching music as a way of anchoring herself to her true passion. She was definitely different than the other teachers and very soon began devoting more of her attention to me, explaining things to me more in details and calling on me more often than on the other kids after asking a question to the whole class. I must admit, I loved the attention she gave me and the peace I felt inside of me in her presence. There are people who’s company alone is enough to make you forget everything else around you, people capable of making time seem to go faster. Giles from the orphanage had that quality and now at school, there was Laura.
Without my knowledge, Laura went to see the director of Ville Joie and asked if it would be possible to take me out every once in a while. She didn’t want to adopt me, she wanted to donate her time and do what she called “simple things” such as take me to a restaurant or to a movie from time to time. The director agreed and about once a week after school, Laura began taking me to shopping malls, restaurants and music stores. She even took me to her place, which was filled with music instruments and where I sat at her feet while she explained where the instruments came from and played them for me before she cooked dinner for both of us.
Of all the things we did together Laura and I, going to the movies was my favorite. We were lucky enough to be shown movies at Ville Joie but they were old movies from the sixties like Planet of the Apes, Blackbeard’s Ghost or The Time Machine. Don’t get me wrong, old movies or not, we still loved it when the educators got the projector out and played them for us. We were kids; as long it meant having a bucket of popcorn on our lap, they could have shown us a documentary on the origins of sand for all we cared.
But one day, one memorable day, Laura treated me to dinner and a movie. I don’t remember where we went for dinner but I do remember the movie. Laura took me to see Luke Skywalker take on the Empire. She told me a couple of days in advance and even showed me the tickets when I told her I couldn’t believe it. The news of my good fortune spread through the orphanage like a brush fire and made the other kids madly envious of me. When the big moment came, when the theater went dark, my mouth opened wide and stayed that way until the credits. Every time something big happened, I would look at Laura and smile in absolute joy. To think Laura had said she wanted to do “simple things” for me and she ended up taking me to a galaxy far, far away…
After the movie, she drove me back to Ville Joie way past my bedtime, so late in fact, the others were already sound asleep and the Cat Stevens reel was already well on its second run.
I went to bed that night with a roof over my head, a full tummy and my mind filled with stars and spaceships. I went to bed that night the luckiest orphan in the world. When I woke up the following morning, the others were all standing silent in my room, waiting for me to finally open my eyes and tell them, leaving out no details, all about Star Wars…”
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