Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Bedtime Story (15/11/2017)

Readers of my "regular" blog posts might know that the last year has been rather tumultuous in terms of friendships.  But having come through the other side of all the heartache, I am strangely grateful for everything that happened.  It taught me many things - lessons I carry with me, every day.  One of those lessons was the realisation that I had other friends I never knew I could be so close to, and through those friends, I'm doing so much more than I ever did, before - from nights out and planning holidays, to joining exercise classes and singing groups, my life is full of rich experiences, made all the more special by the friends I'm having those experiences with.  Sometimes, we don't see what's right in front of our noses, until life forces us to take a closer look.  

This story is dedicated to each and every one of my wonderful mates.

As always, you can also listen to this story as a podcast.

Billy No-Mates

Billy didn't really have any friends.  He sat on a table with other kids at school, but they were just people who happened to be in his class.  They sometimes sat together at lunchtime, too, but Billy was sure that was only because he always shared his crisps with everyone.  

Billy didn't mind, at first.  He was very shy and talking to people - even his classmates - made him feel a bit nervous.  So, he kept himself to himself.  He helped Polly with her maths and he always shared his coloured pens with Timothy, because Timothy always forgot to bring any, but besides that, Billy was pretty quiet.

When it came to PE and the teacher asked everyone to get into pairs, Billy would simply wait to see who the last person without a partner was, then offer to join them.  He didn't have a friend to rush to right away, after all.

At playtime, Billy listened to everyone else planning what games they were going to play and he'd just slot right in, if there was a space for him.  He didn't like to take charge - besides, nobody would listen to someone as quiet as him, anyway.

Billy went on living his quiet life and he figured that was the way things would stay.

But after a while, Billy started to feel a bit sad about not having any friends.  He wondered what it would be like to to have lots of mates who wanted him around.  One Friday afternoon, after school, he started thinking about how he could make some friends.  He was watching a cartoon on TV, about some friends who hung out in a treehouse, when he had a brilliant idea.  There was a big tree in the back garden!  Maybe, he could build a treehouse of his own?  Surely, everyone would want to be his friend then, just like in the cartoon!

Billy grabbed some old blankets, a handful of twigs and some rope.  Then, very carefully, he climbed up the tree in the back garden.  The trouble was, Billy didn't have a clue what he was doing and it had been raining, meaning the branches were rather slippery.  He quickly gave up and began trying to climb down the tree again, but he couldn't quite find a safe way down and before he knew it, he'd slipped and... Crunch.  Billy's arm was broken.

Billy's mum rushed him to hospital, where a nice doctor x-rayed his arm and showed him a picture of the broken bone.  She put a plaster cast on Billy's arm and told him to be careful, from now on.

On Saturday morning, Mum and Billy went to the shops.  They saw Mum's workmate Sandra and told her all about what had happened.  Sandra told Mrs Green from the Post Office and she told Gregory Thompson from the bakery.  Before long, it seemed like everyone knew about poor Billy and his broken arm.

Billy and his mum went back home.  Billy was feeling rather sorry for himself, so he decided to go up to his room and try reading a comic book.  Mum tried to cheer him up by writing him a little message on his plaster cast.  "You can get all your friends to sign it, when you go back to school," she told him.  But that just made Billy even sadder.

Just then, the doorbell rang.  To Billy's surprise, it was Polly from school.  "I came to see how you are," she told Billy, when Mum brought her up to his room.  "Can I sign your plaster cast?"

Billy was puzzled, but he held out his arm for Polly to scribble her name.  "Why do you want to sign it?"  

Polly frowned at him.  "Because you're my friend, silly!"  She replied.  "You're always so kind and you never let me get stuck with my maths.  You always help!"

Before Billy could answer, the doorbell rang again and, seconds later, Timothy arrived in his room.  "Hey mate,"  Timothy called.  "I was so worried when I heard you'd broken your arm!  Are you okay?"

"Am I really your mate?!" Billy exclaimed.

Timothy burst out laughing.  "You're so funny," he chuckled.  "You always share your pens with me at school.  Of course you're my mate!"

Within seconds, the doorbell rang again and, when it opened, Harvey and Leon, the twins from Billy's class, headed straight up to Billy's room.  "How are you feeling?"  Harvey asked.

"Um..."  Billy began.  "A bit surprised to see you all, to be honest..."

"Well, we couldn't not come over," Leon replied.  "You have to be there for your friends.  You know, like you always are.  I never get picked first for PE, because I'm just not very sporty, but you always come and offer to be my partner."

"And you're always so great when we're playing games, too," Harvey added.  "You're really good at slotting in exactly where we need someone.  We don't even have to ask.  It's like you just know.  You're a great friend to us, so we wanted to come and be here for you."

Billy opened his mouth to reply, but the doorbell rang yet again and the next thing he knew, Rhiannon, who always sat with him at lunch, had arrived.  "I bought you some crisps," she said with a smile.  "Since you're always such a kind friend, sharing yours with everyone at lunchtime.  I figured it was the least I could do!"

Billy gazed in stunned silence at the people stood around his bed.  Polly, Timothy, Harvey, Leon and Rhiannon.  He thought he had always been so quiet and shy, they must have barely noticed him.  And yet, here they all were, telling him that he was their friend.  Billy didn't know what to say.  "Thank you..."  He whispered.  "Thank you all so much for being here."

"What are friends for?" Rhiannon smiled.

Billy grinned back at her.  "I thought I was just sort of... Well, just there," he confessed.  "I didn't think I had any friends."

"Are you kidding?!"  Leon laughed.  "I'd be lost without you.  We all would!"

"Just because you're quiet, it doesn't mean nobody notices you," Polly added.  "You've been a friend to us all without even realising it.  But it's about time we all told you how much you mean to us."

They scribbled their names on Billy's plaster cast and they all talked and laughed, until it was time for everyone to go home.

Later, when the sky was dark and it was time to sleep, Billy lay in his bed, staring at the cast on his arm.  He smiled at the names scrawled on it.  

The names of all his friends.


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