32: The Hero Who Broke the Rules

32: The Hero Who Broke the Rules

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Dad

The Hero Who Broke the Rules

You are remembered for the rules you break.

~Douglas MacArthur

Drip. Drip. Drip. I sat in my classroom chair watching raindrops fall onto the windowpane. Tiny rivers of water trickled down the glass. Dark skies, thunder crashing, and moments of brilliance from lightning made it hard for me to focus on my second-grade teacher.

“Turn around, Brenda,” Mrs. Garrison said.

“How are we going to get home?”

“Don’t worry about that now. Face the front, please.”

I turned around to face the front of the class where Mrs. Garrison was teaching a history lesson. She was my favorite teacher, although some of my friends feared her rotund, intimidating body and her stern look. I wanted to please Mrs. Garrison by appearing to pay attention, but thoughts swirled in my head: “I don’t have an umbrella. How will I get home in this downpour? Will Mom be mad if my papers get wet?”

The bell rang and we jumped up from our chairs like popcorn. Scooting sounds from chair legs against the tiled floor signaled the end of school. We grabbed backpacks, books and papers that Mrs. Garrison tried frantically to distribute as we scrambled toward the door. I hustled into the crowded, noisy hallway toward the building’s exit door.

Classmates pushed and shoved as they swung open the door leading to the school’s enormous, pillar-lined front porch. The massive porch was met by three steps leading down to ground level where a flagpole stood. From the flagpole, a long concrete path led toward the street curb and crosswalk.

We huddled together watching the storm dump rain on buses that were waiting by the curb. Each bus had its doors open to welcome students. I didn’t have a dry bus waiting for me. Instead, I could look across the street to my house. Dad told us he wanted a home close to his kids’ school so they wouldn’t have to be bussed.

This day, it would’ve been nice to board a bus. I didn’t know what to do. “Do I wait it out?” I fretted. “Maybe the rain will stop and then I can walk home.”

Although I could see the safe haven of my house, I knew it was too far away to not get soaked. I could never run fast enough with my books and important homework. Lightning flashed again, revealing heavy, dark clouds. Rolling thunder echoed overhead. Some of my friends screamed and others dashed for their buses.

I turned again to look at my house where Mom was waiting for me. Safe. Dry. I wanted the comfort of home. Then I saw a familiar figure tromping through the school’s flooded lawn. It was my dad. “What’s he doing?” I wondered. “We’re not allowed to cut across the grass.” He didn’t wait at the crosswalk either. I fixed my eyes on him as he plowed ahead, unaffected by the rain, thunder, or lightning.

He came up to me, stretched out his husky arms, and scooped me off that school’s crowded porch. Right in front of my friends, he grabbed me, held me tight against his chest and retraced his steps. I looked back at my friends still standing on the porch. They became smaller as my dad and I neared my house. I don’t remember anything more — not our dog wagging her tail to see me, Mom waiting, how wet we were, or the familiar smell of our house. What impressed me and remains in my mind’s eye was Dad . . . my hero who broke the rules to rescue me.

~Brenda Nixon

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