The first memory Harrison still vividly remembers is when he was nine years old. Mrs. Carrington was his teacher and reminded him so much of his own mother that he slipped up one day and called her mom. The other students laughed. He never really recovered from that embarrassment. At least, not for the rest of the day which for a nine-year-old, was an eternity.
Fortunately for him, Mrs. Carrington did actually remind him of his own mother because of her tender heart, she allowed him to stay in the classroom during recess. On the pretense of helping her get the classroom in order but as he reflected on it in his older years it was to provide a safe place for him to avoid further teasing. The small recess reprieve only intensified the teasing he received on his walk home after school.
However, while the other children played out on the playground during recess, he dutifully helped Mrs. Carrington arrange the desks for a later planned activity. Even at a young age, Harrison tended to be more of an observer. This allowed him to stay on the sidelines and watch but rarely participate. He definitely wasn’t one for doing a lot of needless talking. He watched. He studied. He absorbed. What he did with his findings no one knew because he never shared with anyone. At an early age he had accepted the fact that his job was merely to observe not to participate. Even though he helped moved the desks, he did so quietly.
“Thank you very much for helping me with the desks,” Mrs. Carrington said as they created a wide circle in the middle for story time. “We have a special guest coming to read to us today. Do you like stories?” she asked without looking at him directly. She had been a teacher long enough to know a student like Harrison would not answer if he felt put on the spot.
He shrugged his shoulders.
“I like a good story. It gives me a chance to see how the world looks for somebody else.” She continued to study the story-time circle.
He thought about it. A story was just a story for him. Words on paper. He did like when his mom read to him at night though. Not necessarily the story itself, just the fact it was his time with her. To hear her voice. To have that moment with just the two of them. Their nighttime routine helped him relax enough to fall asleep. She could have read anything including her reports from work and he would have been content.
“You know what else is fun?” Mrs. Carrington continued. “Writing stories. Have you ever written a story?”
Write a story? Harrison focused on pushing the last desk out of the way. The thought never occurred to him to write a story.
Mrs. Carrington stood up straight and looked at Harrison. “I bet you’re full of stories to tell.”
Maybe, just maybe there was a story for him to tell. How hard could it be? Once a week they had a guest storyteller come in to read to them. Harrison was pretty sure if any of the guests that had come in could tell a story so could he. He would have to try it during their free time later that day.
“I bet you have a beautiful story just budding inside you. Probably the most beautiful story ever to be told.” Mrs. Carrington said walking back to her desk to get ready for the other students return.
The most beautiful story inside of Harrison? She was probably right because she seemed to know everything. But now he had to be careful. He could only share a story if it was the most beautiful. If Mrs. Carrington said it was inside him it must surely be.
Later that day, during free time, he took out a piece of paper and pencil. He laid the paper flat on his desk and stared at it. Mrs. Carrington said the most beautiful story was inside of him so he was going to get it out. For the whole free time though, he sat staring at the piece of paper. When it was time to put their stuff away to get ready for vocabulary time, the paper was still blank.
What was the most beautiful story going to be? Harrison had no idea.
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