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A Bull's Purpose.

by Matthew Puzycki 9 months ago in family
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by Matthew Puzycki

The box opened and light burst into his room for the first time in forever. If he could move his legs, he would have used them to shade his eyes. After they adjusted, he saw a woman's face. She was smiling and although it had been a while, he recognized her. There were more lines on her face and her hair looked different, but he would always remember Angela's eyes; she had come back for him.

Just when he thought his luck was turning around, he saw her hands lowering the lid back over his home.

No, no, no. Please, it's been so long!

He was overwhelmed by darkness again, but something was different. The wrapping paper beneath him was shifting back and forth and he was sliding ever so slightly. He must have been moving.

Thump, thump, thump.

He couldn't be sure, but it sounded like Angela's feet climbing down the ladder. Was he finally out of the attic?

He listened intently as she left the house and walked outside, placing him down somewhere else.

Please don’t be the trash.

A few hours later, he heard the rev of an engine and felt a jolt beneath him as his box slid across the floor. The car went over a large bump, causing him to topple over. People had always told him he was fragile, but he trusted Angela to get him home safely.

His box seemed to get lodged between two other items, and he managed to stay still until the car stopped again a few hours later. The engine turned off, and he heard all sorts of commotion. Different people were talking, but it was too muffled inside his dwelling to hear what they were saying.

It took a while, but someone eventually lifted up his box and brought him out of the car. He heard a few doors open before he was placed on the ground again. He waited for Angela to bring him out, but nothing happened.

The minutes turned to hours, and the hours seeped into days. He became used to the silence and his mind turned off like it had in the attic.

It must have been over a week before the box opened again. He smiled—on the inside—and peered out into the room. There were four oval, brown eyes staring down at him and none belonged to Angela. Before he could figure out who they belonged to, one of their hands grabbed him tighter than he'd ever been held before and flew him through the air.

"It's a horsey," said the little girl, "Nayyy."

As she moved him across the ground, another hand grabbed control of him.

"That's not a horse. It's a bull!," said an older girl, "They're dangerous!"

I'm not dangerous! I can't even move.

"It looks like a horsey to me," said Lily.

"Nope, it's a bull. Like the ones in Spain. Except this one is just a toy."

The girl grabbed an action figure on the ground, and had him dart towards it, moving the figure out of the way at the last minute.

I'm a toy?

Suddenly, a third hand had grabbed him and lifted him higher in the air. He contorted in her fingers and faced her.

"It is a bull," said Angela, "But it's certainly not a toy for playing with, Everly."

"Why not?" said the girl who must have been Everly.

"That's not its purpose."

"What's its purpose, mommy?" asked Lily.

Yes, what's my purpose? After all these years of existing, was he really about to find out why?

"This bull statue has been passed down from my grandfather to my mother and now to me," said Angela, "It's purpose is to watch over our family and bring us luck in our times of need."

Bring them luck, that's my purpose? That's awesome! I can do that.

"We can't play with it?" asked Lily, sounding dejected.

"No, but unlike your Abuela, I will at least let you touch it when you need a little extra luck."

"Can we name it?"

Angela thought for a moment and pursued her lips. "Yes, you can name it."

His heart felt like it was going to explode. Would he finally have a name?

"Let's call it, Bert!" screamed Lily.

Bert? No, no no. All these years and that's what I get? Angela object. Please object.

"I love it sweatheart."

Good for nothing.

"And Bert will watch over us from this mantle above the fireplace. If you're ever having a really tough time, ask him for help."

Angela bent low, and he felt Lily and Everly gently rub his bronze exterior before she lifted him up and placed him on the wooden mantle. It was a nice spot, and better yet, she faced him towards the living room; he had once spent five years staring at a wall.

He was a bit alarmed to be placed next to a vase containing someone's ashes, but he squinted and saw they belonged to Abuela Cordana, his previous owner and Angela's mother. She was a bit rigid, but she had taken good care of him throughout her life... until the time she did a deep clean of the house and faced him towards the wall; he might never get over that one.

His new spot was his best yet. He was above the fireplace, hovering over a soft gray rug and a black leather couch. He even had views of the television. He nestled in and watched over the family with one thought on his mind; bring them luck.

The thought played on repeat in his head as the little girls grew bigger each day. Unlike Angela and her sister many years ago, there wasn't a lot of fighting in the house, and he easily found peace above the mantle.

Until Lily's first day at preschool. It came a year after he moved into the house, and she worried about it the entire summer. Angela and her husband Victor tried to prepare her, but when they day finally came, she was racing around the house frantically, refusing to get dressed or eat her breakfast.

While she was running, Victor grabbed in her arms and lifted her towards the ceiling, which she always loved.

"I need to go to work, princess, but I wish you the best of luck with your first day at school."

Best of luck? I'm on it!

He stared at her as hard as he could, wishing the universe would give her good luck on her first day of school. This was his first big test since learning his purpose in life, and he didn't want to let her down.

Lily must have noticed his intense eyes because she looked right back at him. "Can I touch Bert, Papi? Mom said I could use him for luck."

Victor smiled and twirled her around in his arms, leaning her close to the mantle. Lily rested her warm palm on his back for a few seconds before whispering to him, "Don't let me down, Bert."

He was on edge the rest of the day, anticipating her return. He kept repeating his wish to the universe, wondering how many times he needed to think it to make it come true.

When Angela and Lily came pouncing into the house later in the afternoon, he was so nervous he thought might fall off the ledge. He expected them to come over to him immediately, but Angela went into the kitchen and Lily went towards the couch, turning on one of her favorite movies.

Coco is great, Lily, but you're killing me over here. What happened? Was it a lucky day?

He tried to see her facial expressions, but her back was turned to him and Angela was nowhere to be seen. How could they leave him hanging like this?

Don't tell me they already talked about it in the car!

As the movie started to end, he feared that he would never know the truth, but then the door handle jiggled and Victor came running up the stairs. He ran over to Lily and swooped her up in his arms. She was smiling.

"Now tell me, princess," said Victor, placing her back on the floor, "How was your first day at school?"

YES TELL US!

"Did Bert let you down? Do I have to take him out back?"

What does that mean?

"No, silly!" said Lily, "It went great, Papi. The teacher gave me a sticker, I painted flowers, and I made two new friends, Tia and Emily!"

Victor swooped her back up again and faced her towards him. "Well you better thank Bert then, dear. It sounds like you had an amazing day!"

"Yes thank you, Bert," said Lily, reaching out towards him with her hand, "It wasn't scary at all."

It was the greatest feeling in the world. Angela had been right after all; this was his purpose. He rested peacefully that night, knowing he had done well.

He brought them more luck over the next few years. Lily’s team won the tee-ball championship, Everly made the marching band, , and Victor ended up receiving his big promotion at work. With each success, the family offered him their thanks and gratitude. He even grew to love his name.

All was perfect, until Everly became a senior in high school. Bert wasn’t sure what he did wrong, but his lucky started to turn. He must have gotten complacent, and he knew it was his fault when Victor lost his job at work.

The family started fighting more after this, and he was worried they would blame him. He still loved his spot on the mantle, and while the rest of the room had been redecorated over the years, he didn’t want to be cast aside. Everly started a part-time job after work to save for college, but when the rejection letters started coming in, he knew his luck was gone.

“Please, Bert,” she whispered to him while opening one of the envelopes that arrived.

He watched on, his legs shaking … figuratively … as she tore it open. It said Brown University on the outside.

She didn’t say anything, but the tear rolling down her eyes gave him the answer. Angela came over and hugged her closely. They didn’t say anything to him, and he knew he deserved it. He was ashamed of himself.

“There’s still Princeton, baby, and that’s your top choice.”

“It’s not going to happen, mom.”

“Don’t say that,” said Angela, staring over at him now, “Did you ask Bert for good luck?”

“Yeah, and it didn’t work,” said Everly.

Victor came into the room now too. He had been moping around the house for the last few weeks. “I think all of his good luck might have run out.”

That hurt worse than any attic ever could. Where was Abuela to turn him towards the wall? He would do anything to not have to see their disappointment. They eventually let him alone, undoubtedly cursing his name in another room, and he had nothing to do but think and pray to the universe.

Help Victor find a job. Help Everly get into her school.

The words circled through his mind. When Lily came home from school that day, he didn’t even bother saying hi to her. Even when she turned on their new favorite show, he refused to watch. Instead, he focused on his words and his purpose.

Bring them luck.

He begged the universe for it, and when the final letter arrived a few days later, he knew that he would succeed; he had wished harder than he ever had before.

He watched on with excitement as she tore open the letter with Angela and Victor by her side. Her beautiful eyes lit up and she smiled for a moment, bringing joy to his heart, before turning away away from them with tears in her eyes.

“I didn’t get in.”

Victor and Angela hugged her tightly.

“There’s nothing wrong with community college,” whispered Angela.

They continued to talk about other things, but Bert refused to hear the words. He had failed them. He cut himself off after that, refusing to find joy in the world around him. Even when Victor found a new job, he couldn’t take any satisfaction.

As the weeks and months went by, Everly seemed to get over the loss, but it did nothing to satisfy his stubborn heart. She even told her parents she enjoyed community college, but he refused to believe it. He had crushed her dreams. He had lost faith in himself and his purpose.

And then one day, it happened. Angela was cleaning the mantle, carefully removing the dust beneath his legs, when she placed him back down in the opposite direction. Once again, he was staring at a boring yellow wall, and he wasn’t even mad this time; he deserved it.

For the next few years, he heard the world go on without him. Victor seemed to enjoy his new job, and Lily did well in school and her new softball team. Everly met a new guy, and had him over the house, but of course, Bert couldn’t even see what he looked like. They had other dreams and hopes for their lives, but he refused to wish for them anymore. He figured they wouldn’t come true if he did.

The day before Lily moved off to college, Everly came busting through the front door. Victor had been sitting on the couch, watching the news, but he jumped up quickly; even Bert could tell something was different from her tone. Angela came and joined him in the living room. Everly seemed out of breath.

“I’m waiting,” she said, jubilantly.

“For what,” said Victor, sounding confused.

“They’re clueless,” said Lily, joining the room. She seemed to already know what was going on. She was smart like that.

Her tone was enough to make Bert stir from his normal routine of pouting in despair. Instead, he listened closely.

“For you guys to notice my left hand!”

A few seconds went by before he heard Angela scream.

What? Is everything okay. Is there an intruder? Someone face me back, please!

“Hija! You’re engaged!”

“Yes, Papi! I’m engaged.”

“I am so happy for you, my princess,” said Victor. “And don’t give me that look. You’ll always be my princess.”

There was a lot of sobbing behind him before they seemed to calm down.

“Remember all those years ago, when I got that rejection letter from Princeton,” begin Lily.

Why bring that up again?

“Yes, hija.”

“I realize now that it was the best day of my life. If I had gotten in, I would have never met Antonio.”

“You’re right, dear,” said Angela, “And you would have never gotten that scholarship.”

“I know!”

“See,” said Lily, reaching out and grabbing Bert, “Bert would never let you down. He knew what you needed all along.”

She turned him back towards the living room, and he saw all of their proud faces. It made him so happy.

He was even better at his job than he had thought. He was so excited, he didn’t know what to do with his legs, but then he remembered he can’t move them. Instead, he watched on, at peace with the world, as Victor picked Everly up and twirled her around the room.

Her dangling hair floated towards him and got closer than it should have—

Before he realized what was happening, he had fallen off the mantle and landed below the fire place. He saw that his legs could move after all; they had separated from his body and bounced across the floor. He stared at them, horrified.

“Oh no, Bert!” said Lily, scooping up his body and trying to pinch his legs back together.

The pain! The pain!

Seconds later, Victor’s rugged hands were around him and he was heading down the stairs toward the garage. He had often heard about it but never got to see it himself.

There was an old car in the middle of it and a workbench in the far corner. Victor brought him over there and placed him on his side before leaving the room and turning off the light. He was alone once again.

Just like that, his job was over. Victor came by a few times over the new few months, doing his best to glue his body back together, but Bert knew it wouldn’t matter. They would get another bull to watch over them. He didn’t even cry when Angela lifted him away from the table one day and put him a shoebox. He was at peace with the work he had done.

Over a year later, he felt the box moving again, and he wondered if this was his final goodbye; off to the trash with some of the other items he had seen broken over the years. He was taken for another long car ride, and when it stopped he was carried away.

Many hours later, the box started to open. He was surprised, thinking he would never see the light of day again. Two hands reached in and pulled him out; it was the prettiest woman he had ever seen.

She was wearing a bright white dress and her hair was made up in fancy curls. It didn’t take long for him to realize it was Everly. She looked at him and smiled. She rubbed him for good luck and put him on her dresser. He was able to watch her walk over to her dad and mom, giving them a hug.

“For luck on your wedding day,” said Victor.

“Bert has been passed down through the generations, but it’s time for him to watch over a new family,” said Angela, “I hope he brings you all the luck he gave us over the years.”

Bert’s heart began to beat again, and he smiled. His work wasn’t done after all.

I won’t let you down.

family

About the author

Matthew Puzycki

Licensed Clinical Social worker and author. I have currently published one young adult novel on Amazon, entitled Forming the Javelin. I am also working on my second book, another YA about a secret psychic society. Thanks for the support!

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