“Hi,” I said.
“Good news! The roads leading to Clarksville are getting plowed this very minute! By tomorrow morning, we’ll be on our way,” he grinned. Ordinarily, Robby and I would have exploded with happiness. Thoughts whizzed through my mind, trying to find out if I really wanted to go our not.
“You don’t look to happy,” Mom said. I smiled.
“Oh we’re happy,” I said. “It’s just…just…” I sent pleading look to Robby for help.
“Um…” Robby said, stumbling for words. It was the phone that got us out of that one. It rang, giving us just enough time to seek refuge in my bedroom. I quickly shut the door.
“Robby! We can’t leave tomorrow!” I cried. “It would drive me crazy not to know what’s going on here!”
“Me too,” Robby sighed, plopping down on my bed. I walked over to the window. Tomorrow at this time, we would be in Clarksville, an hour’s ride from here. I knew that if I ever wanted to know what was going on, I needed to find out fast.
Click. I snapped shut my brown leather suitcase and dragged it into the living room. It was the next morning, Mom and Dad were having breakfast, and Robby and I had gotten an early start in packing.
“Let’s go to the fort one last time,” Robby suggested. I nodded my head and followed him out the front door.
“Last one there’s a rotten egg!” he cried, taking off. I grinned. I loved a good challenge. I raced and had almost caught up with him, when I saw it. I skidded to a stop. Panting, I looked up and saw that Robby had stopped dead in his tracks too. His eyes were wide with surprise. Sitting in the middle of the fort, was a little boy. He played with the snow, oblivious to the people that stared at him. He had messy blonde hair that shaggily hung over his ears. I took a step forward, but still the boy did not turn. It wasn’t until Robby and I walked right up to him that he noticed we were there. His big blue eyes danced from side to side.
“Hello,” I said gently.
“Who are you? Where do you live? Do you have parents? Why are you staying with the mean Stanleys? Did they kidnap you for money?” Robby rambled off question after question.
“Not so fast!” I exclaimed. The boy just sat there. He looked petrified. And he wouldn’t say a word. No matter how much I told him that we were trying to be his friends, he wouldn’t make a sound. I had just about given up, when a voice rang out that sent chills down my spine.
“You two! You two!” I turned to see Floretta shouting in the office doorway. The boy shot up. Robby and I frantically warned him
“Run! Run! Get away from here!” We cried, nudging him. The boy looked as if he might cry. He started to run. Run yes; right into the arms of Mrs. Stanley herself! Robby and I stood dumbfounded as Floretta embraced the little boy and shooed him inside.
“You ought to be ashamed! Ashamed!” she hollered at us, slamming the office door shut. I sunk into the fort. This was too much for my brain to handle. I was utterly confused.
Just then, Apartment E’s door flew open and Mom and Dad stepped out, luggage and all. I sighed as Dad piled the suitcases into the station wagon. It was already time to go? Here I had been, wishing all week that we could go to Clarksville, and now I was wishing we could stay a little longer.
“I’m going to return the key to Mr. Stanley and we’ll be ready!” Dad called. Robby and I got out of our snow fort, and walked over to the car. Dad was just about to open the office door when Mr. Stanley came out. He grabbed the key from Dad’s hand and said,
“Good! You’re leaving. You’re children ought to be ashamed of themselves,” he exclaimed. “Teasing handicapped children…” he muttered. I gasped. I ran over to where Dad and Mr. Stanley were standing. Mrs. Stanley and the little boy stood in the office doorway.
“Yes,” Floretta snapped. “I saw how you yelled at him.”
“Will someone explain what is going on here?” Dad asked, his eyes wide. Oops. I forgot to tell him about this.
“You mean you’re not kidnappers?” I asked. Mr. Stanley’s eyes grew wide.
“Kidnappers! Why did you think that?!” he asked.
“My brother and I just thought…that…well we saw…” I stumbled for the right words. “Who is he?” I finally asked, glancing at the little boy.
“This is our son, Benjamin, or Benny as we call him,” Mr. Stanley said, motioning for the boy to come closer. “He’s deaf.” I gasped. No wonder the boy had looked so frightened when Robby and I yelled for him to run!
“Oh!” I exclaimed. “But why did you tell us, Mrs. Stanley that there were no children around?” I asked. Floretta stepped forward.
“Oh…that. Well, usually all the children that stay here at the motel make fun of Benny,” she replied. She ran her fingers through his messy hair. “It would really hurt Benny’s feelings. They would tease him nonstop, so I kept him indoors a lot. When you asked if there were any children, I became suspicious, I guess. I’m sorry,” she said, toeing at the pavement with her shoe. Robby ran over from the station wagon.
“So, Benny can’t hear?” he asked. Mrs. Stanley nodded her head.
“We use sign language to talk to him,” she replied. I smiled at Benny. He smiled back. And there was suddenly a feeling of understanding all around. The Stanleys were no villains, and it was all just a misunderstanding. A wave of relief came over me.
“Well, we should probably get going,” my dad said, clearly still confused. I laughed.
“I hope you will come again!” Mr. Stanley called as we got into the car. “And you can play with Benny.” I hopped into the backseat and shut the door. We were finally on or way, ready to have a great Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa. It had been an exciting few days, and best of all, we had met a new friend. Suddenly, I knew what we could do to make this Christmas even better. Robby glanced at me. Were we thinking the same thing? I grinned and hopped out of the car. Opening the trunk, we pulled out Ol’ Blue. We lifted him out, and handed him to Benny. His eyes were wide, and a smile spread across his freckled face. He did something with his hands, which I assumed was ‘thank you’.
“Merry Christmas!” we exclaimed, getting back into the car. I think I saw Mrs. Stanley dab her eyes as we pulled away in the car. But I couldn’t be sure. As the station wagon sped off down the road, I leaned back in my seat. This truly had been a perfect, snowy Christmas. This year I had been especially thankful for the snow. Not only were we able to have fun in it, but because of it, we met a brand-new friend. I couldn’t wait till next year, when we might have a chance to visit Benny again. I wonder if the roads will be un-plowed next year? J
Thanks everyone for you encouragement and all the wonderful comments I received about this story. They are all very, very much appreciated!!!