Anyhow, today I'm gong to share a sample of my Young Adult, Shortcomings, which was released through Muse it Up Publishing and can be found in the Amazon select program. I wrote the story specifically because I have an autistic grandson, and how people treat him and how he views himself is so important to me. If I can help one person view someone's differences and embrace another human with dignity and kindness, then I will have accomplished what I set out to do. Hopefully, this will tempt you enough to want to read or share a copy. Although geared for YA, it's suitable reading for all and packs a message we can all benefit from.
Our shortcomings don't define who we are, unless we let them. Cindy Johnson needs to learn that. Born with one leg shorter than the other, she has no self-esteem because of the cruel comments and cold stares she receives from her classmates. When Cory Neil, the football quarterback asks her to Homecoming, she's quite sure he's asked her on a dare and refuses. It takes more than just her mother's assurances that Cindy's beautiful before she realizes she may have made a mistake in turning him down.
Cindy gently closed the front door, but the squeaking hinges announced her arrival. Her mother appeared from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. “There you are. I was beginning to worry about you.”
Cindy shed her backpack and stashed it at the end of the couch. “Sorry. I should have let you know I’d be later than usual. I did a little tutoring in the library.”
Her mother’s brow rose in a suspicious arc. “Does this have anything to do with the phone call you got the other night?”
“Actually, it does. Cory Neil needed help with his math and asked me to meet him after school. I’m going to tutor him on the nights he doesn't have football practice. Is that all right?”
“Cory Neil, huh?” A teasing gleam sparkled in her eye. “I hear tell he’s the football team’s handsome quarterback.”
“Yes, Mother, it’s true, but don’t make anything out of this. He needs help with his math, and that’s all.” How could Momma assume Cory would be interested in a cripple.
“Well, he called you didn’t he? Besides, I heard while at the grocery story there’s a big dance coming up soon. You never know—”
“Stop it, Momma! Cory can have his pick of any girl at school. Why in the world would he want to be seen with me? For heaven sakes," her voice trembled. "I don’t even know how to dance. His interest in me is purely educational.” Tears of frustration filled Cindy’s eyes. She limped off to her bedroom and slammed the door behind her.
Within a few seconds, there was a light knock. “Cindy, may I come in. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry.”
Cindy lay across the bed on her stomach. She swiped the moisture from her cheeks, sat, and pulled her feet up under her. “Come in.”
“I’m so sorry, sweetheart. I just—”
“I know. I’m okay. Honest.” Cindy blinked back tears. “I grow so tired of being odd man out all the time. I know it isn't your fault, but why couldn't I have been born with both legs the same length, like everyone else?”
Her mother perched on the edge of the bed and put her arm around Cindy. “You’re so beautiful. Don’t you know that? Just look at yourself.” Reaching across to the dresser, her mom snatched the hand mirror and held it up to Cindy’s face. “Look at those beautiful blue eyes… and that long blonde hair. You don’t even have to worry about curling it. Your skin is flawless… and my goodness, you have the most beautiful teeth in the family—so straight and white. Why can’t you see what I see? Your defect doesn’t define who you are. We all have our shortcomings.”
Cindy peered at the mirror. Shortcomings? What an appropriate word. Tears peppered her cheeks. She plucked a tissue from the box on her nightstand, dried her eyes and tried to focus on the things her mother described. The deformity blurred her image. It didn’t matter what the glass reflected, it didn’t tell the whole story.
******I remember when I was young and pudgy. It didn’t matter what my mother told me, what mattered was what my peers thought…how they acted, what they said. So, even though our Shortcomings DON’T define us, they definitely help form opinions that make a big difference in our lives. I hope you’ll enjoy Cindy’s story and share it with your children.
See you next week...unless I forget!