I was just, surprisingly, not blogging, and I came across a short story I wrote for an English class when I was 15 years old. It remains my best work to date and while it is not my usual modus operandi, I include it here--for kicks. I have posted this story unedited in its original form, though it pained me to do so.
The Boy Who Really Had To Wear Nurse’s Shoes To Church
Everyone has had the story of “the boy who had to wear nurse’s shoes to church” recited to them at least once in primary. And after hearing the story, we were all grateful for our Sunday shoes. We learned a valuable lesson. The lesson of not taking things for granted. This however, is a true story. It’s the story of a boy who after hearing that story in primary, could relate. Douglas Newey—the boy who really had to wear nurse’s shoes to church.
For most people, Sundays are a day to be enlightened and socialize. But not for poor Dougy. Each Sunday brought with it humiliation and shame. You see, neither of Dougy’s parents were employed, nor had been for quite a while. They never attended church but were content to live off the church’s welfare. They could not get Dougy any good church shoes, so he had to wear a pair of nurse’s shoes that the neighbor had given him. As hard and embarrassing as it was for Dougy to go to church, he never missed a week. He knew it was the right thing to do. So week after week Dougy sat through lessons reverently while the other cruel children mercilessly poked fun at his shoes.
“Check out Dougy’s shoes!” shouted Tim. All the children laughed, which encouraged Tim more. “Are you applying for a job at the hospital or what?” Poor Dougy tucked his feet far under his chair, as if he could hide his ugly shoes from the kids’ ruthless taunting. After church Dougy would walk home alone. He didn’t mind the long walk, for the soles of his shoes were thick and comfortable. He didn’t always like being alone though.
“Someday I’ll get some penny loafers for church. Then all the kids will like me and play with me.” thought Dougy to himself. If only he could find a way to get some church shoes, all of his troubles would be over. Sunday shoes were so expensive though, and his parents had no money. Even if they did, Sunday shoes would not be a top priority for them. Dougy had to get the money himself, but how?
Dougy really enjoyed school. He had thongs to wear to school, which was fine because that’s what all the kids wore. School was a place where Dougy felt important. He didn’t have a lot of friends, just one whom he sat next to. Ethan Parkes. They were in all the same groups: Math, Reading, Spelling, etc. Dougy and Ethan were both smart—the smartest boys in the whole 4th grade. His teacher, Miss Kinney always told Ethan and Dougy that they were “gifted” and had a lot of potential.
One particular day during recess Dougy and Ethan were doing their usual thing. Ethan kept looking ad Dougy and then looking quickly away. After a few minutes of that he finally said, “Gee Dougy, we’re friends right?”
“Wull, heck yeah we are.” answered Dougy.
“We sit in here all the time doin’ like this and I draw a lot and show you ‘em all but you write and write and gee Dougy, after all this time I don’t even know what it is you write.” Dougy was surprised when Ethan said this. He never thought anyone would want to read the stories he wrote. In fact, now he realized that no one except Miss Kinney (who was just a teacher) had ever read his stories.
“You’re right Ethan. I never thought of it but would you read a story I wrote and tell me honest if you like it?”
“Of course I would.”
“Ok. I’ll give you this one to read then.” Dougy pulled out several sheets of paper from a manila folder and handed it to Ethan. He was worried, what if Ethan hated it?
The next day Dougy couldn’t wait for Ethan to get to school. Finally Ethan walked into the classroom. As he was getting settled into his desk he looked at Dougy and just stared for a moment, then he said, “You are amazing. I loved it. I LOVED IT! It’s fantastic.” He handed the story back to Dougy.
“No. Really? You’re kidding me, no kiddin’?” Dougy was astounded.
“Do I look like I’m kiddin’? It’s incredible. Look at this, ok? Page 32.”
Ethan handed Dougy a Reader’s Digest. He turned to page 32 and read what Ethan had underlined: “$300 for an original short story. 10 pages or less. Send to Reader’s Digest, Pleasantville, New York, 10570. Include name, address and telephone number.”
“What Ethan? You think I should send my story in?”
“Heck yes I do, and if you don’t I will.” Just then the bell rang and the boys were quiet. Dougy thought about Reader’s Digest all day long. He had nothing to lose; he had 300 dollars to gain. He decided to go for it and send his story in. After school Miss Kinney helped him get an envelope and a stamp. Then they mailed it. Miss Kinney was thrilled with Dougy and his story. She put the school’s address as the return address so he’d be sure to get it. Dougy was very excited, but he decided not to get his hopes up.
During the next couple of weeks Dougy almost forgot that he’d even sent the story in. He worked hard in school to keep his mind off it but the third week (Miss Kinney said it would take about 3 weeks for them to answer) he could think of nothing but the story. They hated it, and wouldn’t use it. Dougy just knew it. He was simply waiting for the rejection letter.
Finally on a Monday, 4 weeks after he had sent the story, Dougy came to school to find an envelope on his desk. It was from Reader’s Digest. “Oh boy. Ok, just open it no big deal,” thought Dougy. He casually sat down, put his books into his desk, scratched his elbow, sighed long and slow, then grabbed the envelope, ripped it open flipping the contents clear across the room. He jumped up, fell down, ran, tripped and landed in front of the letter. It read: “Dear Mr. Newey, we received your story and found it very suitable for our fictional story of the month. We appreciate your entry. A check is enclosed for the amount promised. Once again, we appreciate your participation as a reader. Sincerely, Jerome Brondfeild, short story ed.”
Dougy lay prostrate on the floor. He couldn’t believe it. This was unreal, too good to be real. Things like this just didn’t happen to Douglas Newey. Then he saw the check. $300, that was evidence enough. He got up. Miss Kinney came in. “Congrats Mr. Moneybags! Or should I call you Shakespeare?” she smiled.
“They liked it! You were right! Whoa, wait a second, how did you know?” asked Dougy. “Well I got so curious, I steamed it open before you came.” Miss Kinney looked ashamed. Dougy loved her. She was a good teacher. He loved Ethan too. He couldn’t wait to tell him the good news.
Finally Ethan walked up and sat in his desk. “Look!” shouted Dougy as he held up the check.
“All right! I knew it. Did I tell you? Ha. I told you and you were so worried. That’s great.” They talked about it for a few moments until the bell rang. Then Dougy made a startling realization. He didn’t know what to do with all the money he’d won. Sure, he’d get some penny loafers and maybe a present for Miss Kinney—lotion he thought, for her hands were always dry and chapped, but what to do with the rest?
“Ok kids, let’s get on task. Get out some paper and answer this question: If you could have anything you wanted, one thing only, what would it be, and why?” asked Miss Kinney. At this moment, Dougy didn’t want anything. He had money, a best friend, and a great teacher. What more could he want? For lack of something to write, he glanced over at Ethan’s paper. It said, “If I could have anything, I would want a Sunday suit because I have to wear a nurse’s uniform to church. . .” Dougy was shocked. All along, he’d felt so bad having to wear just nurse’s shoes to church, when poor Ethan had to wear the whole uniform. This was sad news indeed, but at least now Dougy knew what he’d do with his money. And as far as he was concerned, his best friend was never again going to have to suffer the humiliation of being clad in nurse’s clothing.