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?