I often write about people, places, and things close to my heart. It's a wonderful feeling to reach the end of a created story and smile.
Friends, Sweet Friends
She placed the Blue Ribbon she'd won at the science fair for her model of Earth on page 346. Samantha closed the book and put it on her bedside table. She heard her father calling her down for lunch. It was a bright, sunny Saturday in Ball Ground Georgia. Samantha Blue had a few friends to play with within the town but one friend, Ginger was her absolute best bud. Samantha smiled as she could smell toasted cheese sandwiches, her favorite. She was welcomed with a smile as her dad, Mark asked, "One or two?" Samantha grinned and said," Two daddy, and don't call me fatty." They often made up rhymes for fun.
Mark laughed and said, "I would never call my favorite girl in the whole world a fatty." Samantha giggled as she said, "I love you, daddy." Mark smiled and said, "I love you too sweetie. Did you call all your friends for your birthday party next week? Turning 12 is a pretty big deal." Samantha started to bite her sandwich, stopped, and answered, "Ginger is doing it for me. There might be around ten kids. We better have lots of cake and ice cream." She took a bite of her sandwich as Mark said, "I will make sure we have plenty."
They talked about party arrangements and times. Samantha did her usual begging for a puppy. She had just finished lunch when the phone rang. Mark grinned and said, "Bet I can guess who that is." Samantha rushed to the phone and picked it up on the mid-second ring. She answered, "Hi Ginger!" Ginger giggled and spoke, "Hey Sam. Want to go froggin'? Grandpa says he'll give us fifty cents a frog. He's hankerin' for some frog legs." Samantha answered, " Let me ask." Mark spoke, "I heard. Ginger talks a bit loud. Sharp Mountain creek is quite a walk from here on Howell Bridge Road."
He could hear Ginger say, "My grandpa is taking us in his truck." Mark chuckled and said, "Ok, since Seth is taking you." Both girls cheered as Mark told Samantha to put on play clothes. Seth and Ginger were there within the hour and the two eleven-year-old girls were so excited to get to go wade in the creek. Sharp Mountain Creek has a hairpin bend where Seth took the girls to start. Seth parked the truck right by the creek and the girls jumped out with their frog buckets. They waded up and down the creek not getting out of Seth's sight. A boy and two girls came wading down the creek. The boy, Randy spoke up, "Hey Ginger, Hey Sam!" Both girls were silent even though they knew Ginger and Samantha well. They were all schoolmates.
The kids were only a few feet away when Barbra whispered something to Callie. Callie giggled. Randy asked, "What's so funny? Let us in on the joke." Barbra cocked her head to the side, huffed, and said, "It's private Randy." Randy snapped, "No...it's rude." Ginger spoke up, "It is rude to whisper in front of people." Barbra crossed her arms and snarled, "Well if you must know, we are not attending the retardy party next week." Immediately, Ginger leaped towards Barbra and slapped her down in the water. Ginger jumped on top of Barbra and started punching her. It took Randy and Seth both to pull Ginger away.
Barbra stood up, wiped the blood from under her nose, and screamed, "I'm telling my mother and father! You are going to pay for hitting me!" Seth growled, "You going to tell them the awful thing you said about Sam?" Barbra screamed, "Shut up old man," as she backed away." Ginger looked and saw tears in Samantha's eyes. Ginger rushed to Sam and hugged her, saying, "Please don't listen to people like her, please don't." Both girls were crying as Barbra and Callie slithered away down the creek bank.
Randy spoke up, "Yeah Sam, don't listen to them. They're dumb. Me and my little brother Larry are coming to your party. Samantha managed a little smile and thanked Randy. There were no frogs to be caught that day. Seth knew that nighttime was the best time to get frogs but he just wanted to spend time with his granddaughter and her best friend. Samantha didn't tell her dad what happened for fear that he might confront Barbra's parents.
Samantha's birthday came and seven friends attended. Ginger, Randy, Larry, and four more schoolmates enjoyed cake, ice cream, and games. Near the end of the party, Mark winked at Ginger and ginger said, I forgot to shut the shed door, would you please go do it for me?" Ginger smiled and nodded her head, "Yes." Samantha gave her dad a, "What are you up to, " Look. Ginger went out and came back in with an adorable eight-week-old Beagle puppy.
Samantha was breathless! She cried, "Oh my, oh my, dad I love you so much...a puppy!" As Ginger handed Samantha the puppy, all the kids petted him. Mark was so happy to see his daughter happy. He wished his wife, Samantha's mother could have been there but she had died of cancer when Samantha was five years old. Samantha named her puppy Davy. Ginger asked, "Why Davy?" Samantha answered, "So I can ask dad, "Can Davy have the leftover gravy?" The kids and Mark laughed.
Six years later, Samantha Blue was graduating from Cherokee County high school at the sports grounds. Samantha was chosen unanimously by her entire class to give a speech at the commencement. Ginger was holding Samantha's hand as she said, "You got this Sam. You got this." Samantha took a deep breath. exhaled and stepped up to the microphone.
She looked out over the audience and saw her father, her new stepmother, Mary, and her lovable beagle Davy on Mary's lap. Samantha had a few notes but just held them tightly in her hands, not looking at them as she spoke, "I was born with Down Syndrome. My mother and father were told by her doctor that I wouldn't be normal. He and a couple of their friends told them and suggested they were free to choose the termination of my life. Mom and dad terminated their relationships with those people. It was a very hard pregnancy for mom. She died of cancer when I was five years old."
Samantha hesitated for a moment, wiped a tear, and continued, "History says that here on this Georgia ground, a Cherokee woman named Nancy Ward in 1755 saw her husband killed in a battle of Taliwa with the Creeks. Nancy picked up his rifle and led the Cherokee to victory. I have a book on my bedside table. I read part of that book every day. On pages 345 and 346 is the story of David and Goliath. Nancy led warriors to victory and David killed the giant."
There was never such silence on the field. Samantha had every heart in her hands.
She continued, "I've had many hard battles, beginning in the womb of my mother to this very day. Like Nancy, my mother went into battle for me against a growing social acceptance of terminating the lives of children with Down Syndrome. She and my dad are my heroes. It is an irony that my name is Samantha and I read the Book of Samuel every day. I have to be like David every moment. I have to face the giants of prejudice, ignorance, and even sometimes hate. I have no stones to cast at the giants. I haven't needed them with a dear friend like Ginger Dawson."
Samantha looked around at Ginger and saw her wiping her tears away. Samantha could see tears among many of the people. She said, "I didn't come up here to make you cry. I came up here to help you see that the Nancys and Davids of the world have made it possible for people like me to survive and live a good life. It is so hard at times to be as brave as they were, or have even an inkling of faith they had. I believe bravery and faith are born from love. My very last words for the class of 1995. A sweet rhyme my dad would say to me at bedtime. You can't be me and I can't be you but we can be us. Even if it's just us two."
Ends and Beginnings
© 2022 Tom Cornett