Chris poked his nose between the curtains. He knew those nasty bullies were out there. Somewhere.
A tickle began between his shoulders, and flopped around like a moth. Would they call him silly names again? He wondered.
But he 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 fast-as-a-cheetah sneakers. They would help him run away, if he had to. "Better flight than fight," mom said.
He was tired of getting tripped when he tried to escape. Even getting 'bopped' on the head. So he had to be a real fast runner.
Chris opened the front door. Then tiptoed past his sleeping cat, JC. He squirmed on his tummy across the lawn. Yikes, there's one of those bullies! He almost screamed out loud.
It looked like Josh, the one who never combs his hair. And Peter is there, too. He‚s the leader of the bully bunch.
‚If I had a nose like that,‚ he said to his mom one day, ‚they would call me monster.‚ But his mom didn‚t think that was funny.
"SSH!‚ Chris said to his sister 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, Donna," he said. "They might hear you."
"Who might hear me?" she asked, walking towards him.
"SSSH! Get down! His arms gave this simple message as they flapped up and down. ‚Those are the boys who tease me," he whispered.
Donna laid on her tummy beside her little brother. "Why are you so afraid of them?" she asked quietly.
Chris didn‚t answer. He looked as if he was in pain. And his hands covered his eyes. ‚I hope they don‚t see me,‚ he whimpered.
Donna was sad to see him so unhappy. Then she noticed something strange. Black clouds began to circle his head. Was he that upset about the bullies? She wondered.
Some clouds were darker than others. And others were larger.
What should she do?
Then she had an idea. Donna shut her own eyes tightly. Her thoughts were about good things to help him.
Suddenly, loud noises could be heard.
Elephant steps boomed on the sidewalk. And a huge trunk lifted high in the air. It swallowed up her brother‚s dark clouds. Then the elephant disappeared down the street.
More sad clouds appeared above Chris. They floated like huge dark moths. Donna closed her 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.
Donna squeezed her face once more. Chris could not see what was happening. His eyes remained closed all the time.
A wolf came into view. His bushy tail batted away remaining clouds of pain. He bounded around the corner.
Finally, Chris stood up. His eyes were red from rubbing. He still had a purpose to accomplish. He must be brave.
Mom was counting on him. The barber was waiting. It was his duty to show mom and his sister he was not some little baby.
He boldly took his sister's hand. As they hurried to the sidewalk, Chris hoped he could return home in one piece.
Suddenly the bully-gang was coming back down the street. There was Josh and Peter. And even Andrew who always called Chris 'baby face'.
At first Chris‚ eyes got really huge. Then he squeezed his sister's hand. He was really afraid.
His sneakers wanted to quickly jog away. But he couldn‚t move. His feet just became part of the sidewalk. Chris tried to build up some steam. No use.
‚Wait,‚ Donna said. ‚Everything is going to be okay.‚
Chris knew he had to find a way to be brave. Besides, if he simply ran away, what would his sister think?
Peter just stared at him. He wasn‚t even coming forward to give him a push. Chris kept waiting for name-calling from the others.
But they were 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 slowly turned and ran away.
It was shocking to Chris. He couldn't understand. What was happening? If only he had turned around. He would have seen what the gang of bullies saw.
Behind Chris and Donna was the elephant. It sat back on his hind legs. He 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 were like lightning flashes. Thick fur swelled from powerful strength. A gray and white tail pounded nervously.
Donna had a smile on her face. It was wide as the sky. She knew what was happening.
The bully gang was not able to say one word. Peter, Andrew and Josh had gone. And now the animal images faded away.
"Hurry!" Chris yelled as he pulled Donna towards the barbershop.
* * *
¬ Richard & Esther Provencher
My wife, Esther and I really enjoy writing. It is an excellent salve, in addition to prayers, a great wife and family during my continuing recovery from a stroke/aneurysm. You can contact us at: email@example.com re comments on our work. We live in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada. Pray for others.