Worst Gift Ever

A funny/sad story by one of my students:

Worst Gift Ever

By D. L. King

I just had to have a bike. Every eight-and-a-half year old boy had a bike. It was a rule or something. Even girls had bikes. I had to do everything just like all the other kids, or I’d be different. I couldn’t be different. I hated being different.

In the summer, the neighborhood kids rode their bikes in the street in front of our house. I sat on a rock and watched them circle round and round, listening to their happiness. If only I could ride a bike, they’d like me. Then I’d be a real boy.

One time, Dad found me in the toy aisle of W.T. Grant, staring up at a baby-blue two-wheeler with chrome handlebars and black plastic grips. I loved the smell of its new rubber tires and fresh paint. Dad stared at me for a minute then said, “Let’s go.” I followed him out to the car.

“Robbie got a new bike, Dad,” I hinted one night after supper. “It’s a purple metal-flake Schwinn with a banana seat. It even has three speeds. It’s really cool.” I threw in a pitiful sigh for effect. He gave me his usual don’t-bother-me look and hid behind his newspaper. Dad hardly ever smiled. Especially at me.

Mom was always mad about something. I could never tell if she’d give me just a cold stare, or start slamming cupboard doors. I didn’t bother her with my dreams anymore.

At school, I daydreamed about Christmas morning and my new bike. I’d hop into the living room, our plastic tree glowing with fake happiness, perfectly wrapped presents under the green branches. And out in front, my beautiful baby-blue bike, leaning on its kickstand. Christmas would be happy this year! I almost felt normal.

When the real Christmas Eve finally came, me and my brother were ordered to bed early. Mom and Dad had to stay up late wrapping presents and putting my bike together. Then they’d park it where the whole family could see how much they liked me.

Morning came. I hopped up the stairs, around the railing, into the living room. My heart pounded, full of excitement and dreams. I’d finally show the neighborhood kids I was just like them.

There was no bike.

In front of the tree was a stupid wagon. It wasn’t even blue. It was red. I hated red. It wasn’t even a Radio Flyer wagon. It was a Murray wagon. Who ever heard of a Murray wagon? It had four wheels, not two. It didn’t have a chain or pedals. How was I supposed to keep up with the neighborhood kids in a dumb old wagon?

I got the message. I’d never be a real boy. Mom and Dad might as well have stuck a big sign in our front yard: A stupid little kid lives here. He thinks he can pedal a two-wheeled bike with only one leg.

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