Before Teacher came, everyone felt sorry for me. Poor Lucinda, the cripple. My brothers were always running and playing – no time for me. I spent the days dreaming. When the boys climbed the huge apple tree, I imagined them falling slowly from the highest branch, screaming for help. I sent two hawks to save them. When they built secret hideouts in the woods, I imagined them becoming lost, and calling my name. My search party of elves and fairies easily rescued them. I never told anyone my stories. They would only make those mournful faces and sadly pat my shoulder.

Then Teacher came swooping in, like a great bird. She quickly saw the “lay of the land”, as she called it. “We’ll soon put a stop to this nonsense,” she assured me. First, we needed a schoolroom. “If my Lucy can’t go out into the world just yet, we’ll bring the world to her!” She kicked Father out of his cozy den, put the boys to work installing book shelves. She ripped down the thick maroon curtains and replaced them with the palest gauze, which let the light in and threw green and blue ripples everywhere. “I’m a mermaid!” I exclaimed, almost overturning my wheelchair learning to swim. Teacher laughed and wheeled me around in an underwater dance.

“Words will be your wings,” Teacher promised. Then the books started arriving. Every few days, a new box full. We’d take them out one by one, reading the titles, stroking the colorful bindings, holding them to our noses for that wonderful musty, mysterious, adventurous book smell. Teacher would exclaim over a favorite, then I’d settle down for the afternoon, devouring the pages. In the evenings, we’d discuss each story, then write our own.

My brothers became jealous. “Why does she get her own library?” We invited them in, and picked out special books to share with them, but they never visited us in that magical place. This time it was I that felt sorry for them. They could walk and run, but without a Teacher, without books, how would they ever fly?

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Linda Rock
Linda Rock (@linda-rock)
7 months ago

My first thought as I read your story Juma was of Helen Keller and her remarkable teacher, Anne Sullivan. It only takes the right person to come into someone’s life to make all the difference. I loved how Lucinda’s life was transformed and that last sentence says it all. A story I could read over and over.

Sandra James
Sandra James (@sandra-james)
7 months ago

Like Linda, I thought of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, with a hint of Maria from The Sound of Music. Here in Australia, I started a monthly print writing magazine 19 years ago featuring short stories, poetry etc, and I hold writing competitions. I still treasure a letter I received from a proud grandmother when her 8-year-old grandson received a prize in one competition. His older siblings were all sports high achievers and he often felt left out but his grandmother said he was ‘flying’ after he received his award certificate.
A beautifully written story, Juma. I especially loved the swimming and can image them dancing through the green and blue ripples.

Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe (@eric-radcliffe)
7 months ago

Hello Juma, I agree with Linda pointing out, that it only takes the right person to come into a life to make it flourish, especially when they understand what it is that is missing. For Lucinda it is books – the doorway she can walk through.

Jack S
Jack S (@jack-s)
7 months ago

Nicely done Juma! I really like how you’ve achieved so much narrative and character development, and so thoroughly established that reversal, in so few words. A nice read 🙂

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Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof (@christer-norrlof)
7 months ago

What a wonderful story, Juma! I could feel the joy of the young woman and how her wings grew out with the arrival and actions taken by Teacher.
I didn’t make the association to Helen Keller, but I thought of the Swedish writer Selma Lagerlöf, who won the Nobel prize and later entered the Swedish Academy. As a small child, she had a hip injury and at 3-4 years of age she was lame in both legs, although she recovered. She couldn’t play with other children, but loved to read, fantasize and write. Her grandfather was the equivalent to Teacher in your incredible story! Congratulations!

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo (@lotchie-carmelo)
7 months ago

Another great story, Juma. I love the last paragraph of your story – it says it all – it hooked me. A very wonderful story that teaches a lesson.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary (@carrie-oleary)
7 months ago

I love this story Juma. I love that the girl in the wheelchair found her way to fly through books and her wonderful teacher. I know what it’s like to be excluded because it was something I wouldn’t be able to do. I too found my wings in books and games, living vicariously through the characters portrayed, so your story really resonated with me. Good job!

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