Annie Wiggle-Do

Annie Wiggle-Do

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Annie Wiggle-Do

To live with fear and not be afraid is the final test of maturity.

~Edward Weeks

“Look who’s here to see you, Brenda,” the nurse said.

She led a tired-looking woman to the girl’s bedside.

Brenda huddled on her side, facing the wall. When her mother touched her shoulder, she pulled her head closer to her chest, as if making her body smaller would help her disappear altogether.

The nurse patted the mother’s shoulder.

“Brenda’s still not talking to us,” she said in a low voice.

Brenda’s mother bit her lip to keep from crying. She remembered exactly how bubbly and happy Brenda had been before the car accident that led to the amputation of her leg. She’d been one of the most popular girls in her sixth-grade class.

When Brenda first awakened from her surgery, she had raged at her mother. Why had this happened? Now, she felt like a freak. No one would ever want to be her friend. She would never date, never have a boyfriend. Then, Brenda had just stopped talking.

“I wish I could bring her friends to visit her,” said Brenda’s mother. “It’s just too long a bus trip, though, about three hours each way.”

The nurse smiled. “Don’t worry. We have a plan.”

Shortly after Brenda’s mother left, two nurses wheeled in a stretcher.

“Moving day, Brenda!” one said cheerily. “We need this bed for someone who’s really sick. We’ve picked out the best roommate in the hospital for you.”

Before Brenda could protest, the nurses had rolled her onto the stretcher and whisked her down the hall. The room was awash with light, posters and music.

“Here’s your new roomie, Annie Wiggle-Do,” one nurse told a dark-haired teenager in the other bed. “She’s just beginning to get better, so please don’t kill her with your corny jokes.”

Fourteen-year-old Annie grinned. As soon as the nurses left, she hopped out of her bed and sat on the end of Brenda’s.

“I lost my leg from bone cancer,” she announced. “What happened to yours?”

Brenda was so astounded she couldn’t even form a word.

“You’re lucky,” Annie continued. “You’ve still got your knee. They had to take mine, hip and all, see?”

But Brenda’s eyes had already found the raw scar and empty hip socket. Her gaze seemed frozen, like a magnet held it there.

Annie scooted back to her bed. “I’d like to socialize, but my boyfriend’s due any time now, so I have to get ready.”

As Brenda watched transfixed, Annie reached up and took off her hair! Her head was completely bald.

Annie giggled. “Oh, I forgot to warn you, the stuff they gave me to kill the cancer also killed my hair. But check this out! My parents, my grandma, my boyfriend and some kids from school all brought me wigs!”

From her bedside stand, Annie removed a tangle of wigs. Brown wigs and blond wigs, short-haired and longhaired wigs, curly wigs and straight wigs.

“That’s when I thought up ‘Annie Wiggle-Do,’ Annie said. “Get it? ‘Any wig will do.’ Annie Wiggle-Do?”

Laughing at her own joke, Annie chose a curly blond wig and arranged it on her head. She just managed to dab on some pink lip-gloss and powder before a group of boisterous teens burst into the room. Annie introduced Brenda to them all. Her boyfriend, Donald, winked at Brenda and asked her to keep Annie out of trouble.

Before long, Brenda began chatting with Annie and her friends. They didn’t make her feel like a freak at all! One girl even shared with Brenda that her cousin wore an artificial leg, played basketball and rode a motorcycle. By the time the nurses shooed all the visitors from the room, Brenda felt more like the old Brenda.

The girls talked into the night. Annie shared her dream of becoming a comedy writer. Brenda told Annie about her secret desire to act in live theater.

“Ladies!”

A night nurse came in and shined her flashlight on Annie and Brenda. “It’s after midnight,” the nurse scolded. “What do you have to say for yourselves?”

“Nothing, your honor,” Annie said. “We don’t have a leg to stand on!”

They all laughed, but Brenda laughed hardest of all.

As the nurse’s footsteps faded down the hallway, Brenda snuggled under her blanket. “ ‘Night, Annie Wiggle-Do,” she whispered. “I can hardly wait ’til morning.”

~Kathleen M. Muldoon

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