Matthew poked his nose between the curtains. Somewhere out there the bullies waited.
A creepy crawling began between his shoulders, and raced up and down his spine. He wondered if they would call him silly names again.
Matthew still wanted to play outside. He would show them. He would be brave. Yes, very brave on such a nice marshmallow-sky day.
First, he put on his quick-as-a-cheetah sneakers.
They would help him run away, if he had to. "Better flight than fight," mom told him.
He was tired of getting tripped when he tried to escape. Or even getting 'bopped' on the head, and that’s why he had to be a speedy runner.
Matthew opened the front door then tiptoed past JC, his sleeping cat. He squirmed on his tummy across the lawn. Yikes, he almost screamed.
There's one of those bullies!
It looked like Josh, the one who never combs his hair. Peter, the leader of the bully bunch, is there, too.
“If I had a nose like that,” he once told his mom, “they would call me a Martian.” But, she didn’t think it was funny.
"SSH!” Matthew said to Travis who stood by the front door. “What do you want?"
"Mom says I have to take you for a haircut."
"Don't yell so loud, Travis," Matthew said. "They might hear you."
"Who might hear me?" he asked, walking towards him.
"Quick! Get down! His arms gave this simple message as they flapped up and down. “Those are the boys who bug me all the time," Matrt whispered impatiently.
Travis laid on his tummy beside his younger brother. "Why are you so afraid of those punks?" he asked.
Matthew didn’t answer. He looked as if he was in pain. “I hope they don’t see me,” he whimpered, as he covered his eyes.
Travis was sad to see his brother so unhappy. Then he noticed something strange. Black clouds began to circle Matthew’s head. Was he that upset about the bullies? Travis wondered.
Some clouds were darker than others, some larger.
How could he help?
Then Travis had a great idea and shut his eyes tightly. His thoughts were about ways to help his brother.
Suddenly, loud noises could be heard. Elephant steps boomed on the sidewalk. And a huge trunk lifted high in the air and swallowed up his brother’s dark clouds.
Then the elephant disappeared down the street.
More sad clouds appeared above Matthew. They floated around like huge night moths.
Travis closed his eyes once more.
This time a proud deer suddenly appeared. He moved his powerful neck back and forth. Sharp antlers plucked black clouds out of the air.
It was almost like catching fireflies.
Then the deer leaped past the house. His white tail waved goodbye.
Travis squeezed his eyes shut once more. Matthew could not see what was happening. His eyes had remained closed all the time.
A wolf came into view. His bushy tail batted away a few remaining clouds from Matthew’s pain. He bounded around the corner.
Finally, Matthew stood up. His eyes were red from rubbing. He still had a purpose to accomplish.
He must show some bravery.
Mom was counting on him. The barber was waiting. It was his duty to prove to mom and his Travis he was not a little baby.
He boldly took Travis’ hand. As they hurried down the sidewalk, Matthew hoped he could return home in one piece.
Suddenly there was the bully-gang coming towards him. It was Josh and Peter. And even Andrew who always called Matthew 'baby face'.
At first Matthew’ eyes got really huge. Then he scrunched Travis' hand. Matthew began to shiver with nervousness.
His sneakers wanted to jog somewhere else quickly. But he couldn’t move. His feet just became part of the sidewalk. Matthew tried to build up some steam. No use.
“Wait,” his brother said. “Everything is going to be okay.”
Matthew knew he had to find a way to be brave. Besides, if he simply ran away, what would Travis think?
Peter, one of the bullies just stared. He wasn’t even coming forward to give Matthew a mean push. Matthew kept waiting for name-calling from the others.
They were all silent.
Josh wasn't usually scared of anyone. But he began to shake like a windy sail. Andrew was the meanest boy in the neighborhood. And he too slowly turned and ran away.
It was shocking to Matthew. He couldn't understand. What was happening?
If only he had turned around. Matthew would see what the gang of bullies saw.
Behind him was the elephant Travis wished for. It sat back on his hind legs. And looked huge as a two-story house. His trunk was raised high in the sky, like a banner.
Next to the elephant was the deer. The large buck looked like a picture on a calendar. Points on his antlers gleamed as if waxed.
The wolf stood quietly. Bright eyes more like lightning flashes. Thick fur swelled from powerful strength. A gray and white tail pounded nervously.
Travis wore a smile on his face. It was wide as the sky. He knew what was taking place.
The bully gang was not able to say one word. Peter, Andrew and Josh had gone. And now the animal images faded away.
"Hurry!" Matthew yelled as he pulled Travis towards the
Barbershop. Being brave was okay, but it was time to go.
* * *
© Richard & Esther Provencher 2008
Richard and Esther Provencher invite you to view their novels written during a recovery from a stroke, which gob smacked her husband Richard in 1999.
Direct links to these novels from www.synergebooks.com are below.
FOOTPRINTS is about Joe who receives an anonymous letter stating he has a 14 year old son he was not aware of. Will this affect a recent marriage to a wonderful lady with two children who love him? His desire to find his missing son puts a strain on everyone. Unknown to Joe, an angry son is also looking for him.
http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_footprints.html novel available now
SOMEONES SON is about Sheldon who has overcome much hurting these past three years. He has been the man of the house since his father moved out. Now dad is back and wants to spend time with him. What about Larry, his neighbor who has been like a father all this time? And mom wants to marry again? http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_someonesson.html novel available soon
INTO THE FIRE is about Troy who has no real friends, only an imaginary one, JC. Without him, Troy might not be able to cope with living in the country, since dad took up drinking. Troy has to be the man of the house because a terrible accident killed mom three months ago. Then a mystery changes everything.
http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_intothefire.html. novel available soon