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By Margaret BrennanPublished 3 months ago 6 min read



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Mary Ellen, in a state of near panic for the possibility of losing her friend, jumped up from her favorite seat. She grabbed his arm, stopping him where he stood and using a tone of voice that she rarely heard her mother use when she became angry, said sternly, “No, you’re not, Thomas! You’re staying right here, until you hear what I have to say.”

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Tommy looked stunned and couldn’t believe his ears. For that matter, neither could Mary Ellen. Caught off guard, he sat down immediately on the window seat and stared out the window. Still shocked, his pride decided not to let her think she won. Trying to look bored, he agreed, “Okay, I’ll listen, but make it quick. I gotta go!”

Mary Ellen paced back and forth a bit, trying to put her thoughts to words.

Her voice softened. “Tommy, first of all, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to call you a dope. You’re NOT a dope. You just got me so frustrated. Look, summer will come and go quickly. I just found out that after Christmas, the registration for high school begins. You still have plenty of time to get in – that is …”

Being deliberately rude, Tommy interrupted, “So what? I know what the months are. Ya think I’m stupid or somethin’”?

“No, you jerk! That’s the point!” She rolled her eyes. “I swear! Sometimes you can be so irritating!”

She saw a side of herself she didn’t know existed, and now didn’t know what to make of it. Being an only child and due to the neighborhood, not having many friends, she never had the opportunity to have an argument, let alone win one.

Mary Ellen sat on her favorite seat, the padded seat beneath the bay window. She positioned herself on the edge so if Tommy looked, he’d see her face.

Gently, to get his attention, she placed her hand on his arm. She felt a spark of hope when he didn’t push it away.

She took a deep breath, then in a softer tone that almost seemed as though she were pleading, she continued, “Listen to me, Tommy and please let me finish before you say anything. I know you’re not stupid, but you and I know that you could be a whole lot smarter. All you have to do is at least try a regular school. There are so many things you could do if you knew how.”

He continued to stare out the window and didn’t interrupt. “A regular school can teach you so many different things and in the right ways. Things you won’t learn in a trade school. You can learn, Tommy, I know you can. Just try, please?”

She let go of Tommy’s arm and sat back as though she were thoroughly exhausted.

He lowered his head to hide all the pain he felt for so many years of his young life. He spoke softly, afraid of hearing the answer he thought he wouldn’t like, “Somethin’ wrong wit me, Mel” Ya ashamed o’ bein’ my friend ‘cause I got no proper education?”

Mary Ellen didn’t expect this response. She tried desperately to hold back the tears she felt for him but failed. They rolled down her cheeks.

“No, Tommy, Oh, Tommy, no! I’m not ashamed of you. If I were, do you think you’d be sitting in my parents’ living room, right now? And no, Tommy, there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s just that a good education would make a big difference you your life. You kind of hinted that you might like to be an animal doctor. You won’t learn that in a trade school.

As he turned to look at her, Mary Ellen saw the look on Tommy’s face and the moisture in his eyes. Reading his mind, she asked, "Tommy are you really afraid of going back to school? Is that the problem? You can tell me. You know I won’t laugh at you.”

Tommy returned his look out the window.

“Tommy, what about Max? Wouldn’t you like to be able to take better care of him? I’m not saying you don’t now, but what if he got sick and you had to give him medicine? Wouldn’t it be nice to know what kind and how much so he could get better?”

He began to speak in a low voice, “Mel, when I was in the home, I went ta school. I went fa three years and hated every minute. I guess I just missed my mom and dad so much that I didn’t care about nothin’ else. Then Uncle Jimmy came and got me. I was still in a slump. Uncle Jimmy’s great but things didn’t change much. No matta how he tried ta help me, I still did so bad in school. I just couldn’t concentrate. Finally, they told Uncle Jimmy they’d be transferrin’ me ta a trade school. They couldn’t kick me out; I was too young. So, they made a deal. I’ll stay until I’m twelve, then they’ll put me where I could stay outta trouble. That’s how the deal was made fa me ta go ta Marshall.”

He lowered his voice even further. “Now, I’m almost twelve. I know Uncle Jimmy loves me and does his best, but I already missed so much; I could neva catch up. Everybody’d laugh at me. I’m more ashamed o’ me than ya’d eva imagine.”

Mary Ellen’s eyes filled with tears. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she said, very quietly, “Tommy, I’m not laughing. I’ve never laughed at you. My mom and dad never laughed at you.”

Trying to sound a bit more positive and perhaps even somewhat cheerful, she continued, “Tell you what! If you at least try, I promise I will try and help you catch up with your grade. Right now, we’re in the same grade so I can help if you’re willing, that is.”

Tommy still didn’t look at her. She placed her fingers under his chin and pulled his head up and around she he’d be facing her.

Then to try and lighten the gloom that had filled the room, she said, “Besides, if anybody laughs at you, well, you just punch him in the nose, right?”

Tommy smiled in spite of himself. Finally, he said, “Okay. We’ll see. I’ll go tomorra morin’ and see the guy in charge. Who knows? Maybe he can help. No promises, though. Okay?”

Mary Ellen squeezed his hand and smiled as she said, “Okay.”

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Thank you for reading Now Will Ya Leave Me Alone? I’m working on another segment. Please stay tuned to see what else might happen to Tommy and Mary Ellen.

Short Story

About the Creator

Margaret Brennan

I am a 76 year old grandmother who loves to write, fish, and grab my camera to capture the beautiful scenery I see around me.

My husband and I found our paradise in Punta Gorda Florida where the weather always keeps us guessing.

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Comments (2)

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  • Dharrsheena Raja Segarran3 months ago

    So glad Mary Ellen managed to change Tommy's mind!

  • Naveed 3 months ago

    Amazing job! Keep up the outstanding work

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