21: “Hi Carol!”

21: “Hi Carol!”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens

“Hi Carol!”

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

~Mark Twain

“Hi Andrea... Hi Anthony... Hi Cristina... Hi Tommy... Hi Steve.”

Every day, we heard a sputtering voice from the top of the brick wall we passed in the morning, a few steps from school. The voice was Carol’s, a mentally disabled girl who went to our school. She called out to be our friend.

I gave a slight wave. As time went by, I said, “Hi.”

Then after more time passed I said, “Hi Carol!”

The others only gave a sideways glare and went on giggling with their friends.

One day at lunch, Carol began to inch her way closer to my group of friends, who were all classroom representatives and popular. I smiled at her as she stood there and listened to our jokes. I was happy she joined in laughing. She never said anything, but day after day she stood there and listened and laughed.

Finally I said, “Carol, sit down with us.”

She did.

“Did I tell you about my brother?” Carol finally spoke.

“Hey, did you hear Kyle got a cell phone?” Tommy said.

“Yeah, well my friend’s sister is only seven and she already has one.” Everyone was off on another subject. Carol didn’t seem to mind that no one had listened to her.

“He used to play lacrosse but now my brother likes to swim. I do too....” Carol continued.

It wasn’t long before kids didn’t want her talking or sitting too close to them.

“Carol smells,” one kid would say. “Leave our table,” said another. But Carol wouldn’t leave.

Eventually, one of the kids started nasty rumors about Carol.

Everyone acted grossed out, with bursts of, “Ugh” and “Ewww.” When I heard this rumor I couldn’t believe someone could be so mean. I quickly changed my group of friends. Carol did not deserve to be treated like that!

I continued to be nice to Carol when I saw her in the hallway or on the playground or at lunch.

“How’s your teacher Mrs. Stringer?” I’d ask.

“She’s great. How are you, Andrea?” Carol asked.

“I’m good.”

I felt good talking to Carol. I was her friend and she was my friend. I noticed after some time passed Steve started to say “hi” to Carol too. Then at lunch he helped her carry her food tray when her arms were too full with books. I was impressed at how nice he was being.

One day after school, I checked the mailbox and there was an invitation from Carol. It was to her eleventh birthday party at the skating rink. When I went to school the next day, all of the classroom representatives were talking about Carol’s invitation and her birthday party.

“No way. I wouldn’t be caught dead at her party,” Kendra said.

“She probably can’t even skate,” another kid said.

I realized I would probably be the only one going. But I figured it was better than no one going. I couldn’t do that to Carol. I would show.

My mom dropped me off on time for Carol’s party. As I walked in I saw Carol and her mom and dad and brother smiling. Carol ran to me.

“Andrea! Hi!” she said.

“Happy Birthday, Carol. Should we get our skates?” I asked.

Her mom and dad smiled as we walked to get our skates.

When we turned around I almost crashed into Steve. Carol was ecstatic to see him. So was I. The three of us headed out to the music-filled rink.

Steve asked us, “Hey can you guys do this?” He did a zigzag with his legs.

We tried to copy but laughed instead. Carol went on to have a super birthday. Steve and I did too. We both agreed we were glad we went.

When we got back to school on Monday the jokes started.

“Andrea and Steve went to Carol’s party? What losers.”

“Who would want to go to Carol’s party?”

Steve and I ignored the jokes and blew off their comments. They weren’t nice kids, so we didn’t care what they said.

A few years later Carol died. I was so sad when I heard the news. She was a rare girl with a true heart. All she ever wanted was friends. A mean word never left her lips. I wish every kid could have a friend like Carol. I’m glad I did. I will never forget her.

~Andrea Q. Verde

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