All he ever wanted was to have friends – loyal friends – friends that would stick by his side no matter what, friends that would remain his friends years later. Alas, the world doesn’t work out that way. It never does.
In his mind, there are only so many types of people in the world, they are:
- Pretty and can make friends with a snap of finger like little miss perfect Daphne.
- Shy and afraid to befriend anyone like shy little Beth.
- Lone wolf like Ethan, someone who does not want to be friends with anyone.
- Desperate to have friend but cannot make one even if life depends on it, like him, Manny Ashcroft.
* * * * *
7-year-old Manny is an overachiever from the start. Though he was supposed to be in first grade, he’s in second grade after thorough testing proving his intelligence was not at all like his peers. Being the small kid in second grade has its advantages and disadvantages.
An advantage…he gets to meet older girls. He’s already had his sight set on Abby – a second grade girl whose dark brown curls were as bouncy as a pogo stick.
And the disadvantage being…
“Move over, shorty,” Charlie shoves him against the school bus’s window until his face is smearing against the glass like a pile of goo.
Slowly unsticking his face from the window, Manny adjusts his glasses, which occupies half of his face. The frame was his dad’s as his mother decided to save money. “But mom, these are heavy and big,” Manny whined at the time.
“Geniuses does not let their appearance get in their way,” was his mother’s response.
He looked over at Charlie, who was chatting with the girls across the row, and then he snuck a peek behind him at Ethan, who has his arms crossed and he’s staring out the window at nothing.
He and Ethan are neighbors. They have ridden the school bus everyday since the first grade. Ethan used to smile and say, “What’s up, little dude?” when they met at the bus stop but lately, he’s been…distant.
The hissing of the brakes brought Manny back to the present. Though he and Ethan were one of the first people to get on the bus in the morning, they’re usually one of the last to get off. “Have a great day now,” the driver would say every morning when he got off.
The school bus unloading zone is on the other side of the parents’ drop-off zone, which meant once hopping off of the bus, students must cross the crosswalk to get to school. Somewhat wobbling from the weight of his backpack, Manny crossed the small grass strip between the loading zone and onto the asphalt crosswalk.
He was halfway through the crosswalk when he heard a loud screech but when he looked up to see a car coming at him, it was too late. He was already flying backward and by the time he landed on his back, he knew his glasses were gone and he was in serious pain.
“Little dude?” He heard Ethan call as well rushing footsteps and loud authoritative voices shouting, “STAY BACK!”
Months later, after multiple surgeries and physical therapy, Manny hobbled down the school bus and the crosswalk. Even after physical therapy, his gait was never the same, neither was his life as others began to avoid him whenever he walked down the corridor and if he had trouble making friends before, the probability of him having friends now was near zero.
“One day, I will have friends,” he vowed as he sat on the library floor during lunch one day. “One day, I will have loyal friends.”
Theme: The Mystery of the Millionaire Mansion
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