When I was younger I happened upon a new friend. This was good because at that time in my life when I was about seven I didn’t have any. She was a girl who I discovered to be two years younger than me. Anyway, my brother and I saw her making her way down the road. He decided we should beat her up and I agreed. As she moved closer to the part of the road we considered ours we attempted to put our plan in place. “Hey what’s your name?” I started. She told me and through our very short conversation I wooed her over to our step. As we talked about what little girls think is important to talk about I asked her to be my friend. She agreed. My brother made a terrible face since at that point I’d certainly ruined his-our plans.
We became friends, me and the girl. We were even neighbors. We did everything together. That included teasing this tall and gangly young man that our parents demanded that we leave alone because he was retarded. Of course we didn’t listen because that would spoil our fun. So every chance we got we teased and ran from Horace. He never attempted to chase us. He’d just swat his long heavy arms at us and go on about his business. We were hopeless.
On Sundays we’d pocket our church money and walk ahead of the grown-ups on our way to church. We had to leave before them so that we could stop at the penny candy store. We’d have at least a dollar each. We could only spend seventy five cents of it so that the change would make a sound in the collection plate.
One Sunday we were running behind in our plans. We had to make a choice. We only had time to tease Horace and go on to church or to buy our penny candy and then go on to church. We were greedy and decided to split our time. So we made a quick face at Horace and then raced into the candy store. We bought just one flavor of penny candy and raced out of the store. I made it out ahead of my friend and found myself stopped in my shiny patent leather shoes.
There he was, Horace, sitting on the bench. We were eye to eye. His eyes. I’d never noticed them before, the beauty of their light brown hue. I was some kind of mezmerized. I remember thinking, “Wow.”
When my friend made her way out she was eager to push me along. “Look at his eyes,” I told her. “They’re so pretty.” She labeled me crazy or something and continued rushing toward the church.
I believe and know that on that day I learned to discover the beauty in people. To stop and take a quiet look at someone in all of who they are. I decided never to tease Horace again and I didn’t.
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