42: Surprise Visitors

42: Surprise Visitors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just for Preteens

Surprise Visitors

How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.

~William Shakespeare

My eyes focused on a long sidewalk that stretched out of sight. As I sat by the window and waited, nothing moved. I saw no girls with backpacks, tossing their hair, happily chatting on their way back from school. I’d only been in my wheelchair a few weeks, following an illness with a high fever that left me weak. It was all so new to me — home all day, unable to attend the opening days of school, studying with a tutor.

My life had centered on my girlfriends because boys had seldom paid any attention to me. I thought of guys as interested only in their sports, their friends, their lives. I couldn’t remember the last time a boy from school said or did something nice for me.

I wondered why the girls weren’t visiting. We had spent so much time together, riding double on bikes, falling over onto the grass in laughter, and running fast around the baseball diamond while the whole team cheered. Now I couldn’t even run at all. I wheeled away from the sunroom window, usually a place of sunshine and light, but on that day it was overshadowed by doubt.

“Here’s a snack, dear.” My mother’s voice startled me out of my thoughts. With my only brother away at college and Dad off on a long business trip, Mom did her best to lift my spirits... but I needed my friends. Desperation began to rise in me.

Surely they would come.

Then one day I saw two small figures on the sidewalk, not quite as bouncy as I had expected. As they kicked the fallen leaves, I realized they were not girls, but boys.

Boys wouldn’t visit someone stuck in a wheelchair. I watched disinterested, certain they would go right past my house, until, shock of shocks, they turned up my walkway. With my neck stretched forward to see better, I recognized them as guys I barely knew from school — Phil and Mike.

I did wheelies as I sped to the front door.

“We just came by to see how you are,” they said.

I couldn’t believe it. Girls might go out of their way to visit me, but never boys.

“Well... come in.”

Mom served them cookies and I asked them about sports and school. Even though long pauses dominated the conversation, they didn’t seem eager to leave, and they came again... even when Mom had no cookies to serve. It really blew my mind. Why would boys do this?

It couldn’t have been because they had a crush on me, since I was already a couple of inches taller than them. It couldn’t have been my popularity, since I didn’t hang out with the popular girls anymore. It couldn’t have been because I was a lot of fun in my wheelchair — clearly I wasn’t.

My girlfriends soon visited and apologized that activities had kept them busy. “We just don’t have much extra time,” they said. The boys, however, seemed to make time. Then and there, my mind did a 180 — maybe boys could be nice after all, even go the extra mile, literally. After all, they could have walked the mile to my house, once, and thought that sufficient. But Phil and Mike walked another mile, and then another. Perhaps they didn’t even know it, but their faithful weekly visits until snow set in gave me something to look forward to and hope to carry on.

The second term, I felt strong enough to be on my feet and return to school. Phil and Mike couldn’t be spotted in the swarm of students that buzzed through the hallways between classes. But I never forgot them and their acts of kindness that brightened my loneliest days.

~Margaret Lang

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