The Unexpected Friend
Tyler, Age 13, Kentucky, USA

At the beginning of a new morning, the sun rose over the dappled countryside, its rays glinting off the metal milk vats next to the country house. Terry woke up to the sound of the cow’s lowing, and jumped into his clothes, heading to the big barn where the cows resided. After hooking the cows to the milking machine, he washed his hands with the cool, clear water from the outdoor faucet and ambled in to the kitchen, greeted by the tantalizing smell and sound of cooking bacon and eggs.

“Morning, Mom,” Terry said. “I have the cows all hooked up and ready to go.” Terry’s mother emerged from the pantry carrying a pair of salt and pepper shakers fashioned into sheaves of corn.

“Ok, Terry, breakfast is almost ready,” she replied with a smile. “Could you put the salt and pepper on the table?”

“Sure.” Terry carefully took the salt and pepper shakers from his mother’s hand and placed them in the center of their wooden table. Presently, the eggs and bacon finished cooking, and his mother stepped into the room with a small platter heaped with the crackling delicacies. Terry’s family prayed and then sat down to breakfast, enjoying the food made from their freshly-laid eggs and fattened pigs.

Breakfast was quickly finished. Terry got up from his seat, and after placing his plate and utensils in the sink, he ran up the stairs, his sock-covered feet making soft thuds against the wooden boards. After grabbing his red backpack, he tossed it over in the direction of the desk in his room. He opened the door of his closet and dug through suitcases and fallen jackets to find what he wanted: his tennis shoes. Hurrying over to the other side of his room, he opened his sock drawer, grabbed a pair of socks and put them and his shoes on.

After he tied his shoes, Terry walked over and opened a cabinet on his desk. Grabbing a neat stack of books, he turned his backpack on its side and slid them in. He marched back downstairs, zipping a few spare pencils in the front pocket. Creaking noisily, the front screen door opened, and Terry emerged, trying to slide his backpack onto his back. Underneath his feet the gravel crunched as he jogged towards the waiting school bus. Terry jumped up the stairs and took a seat, then the bus hissed and headed towards Balsam High School.

He went through school, with all the classes the same as usual. Something interesting happened when a student in chemistry decided to water a flower with nitro-glycerine, and the unfortunate had to go around and wipe the green stains off the wall.

At lunch however, Terry sensed that something looked different. Usually, everyone sat with each other and talked, but something seemed unusual. Glancing around, he noticed that a boy was sitting with two other boys that were bursting with laughter. He put his lunch away and walked over to the three boys. When he sat down, the two boys staggered away, still laughing hard.

“What’s so funny?” Terry asked. The boy responded to him.

“I really do not know what their girth is about,” he responded with a straight face. “What is your name?” the boy enquired.

“Terry Nicholson.”

“I am Rothbart Hendrics. Pleased to make your quittance.”

“And I am pleased to make yours too, I am sure,” Terry said with a smile.

“Did you hear about the school play that this school will reform in March?” Rothbart asked. “Its actors are only able to have a part by special invitation.”

“Yes, I did hear about that. I hope that I will be invited. I really enjoy acting, and I really want to be in a play like that. I have performed in plays before, but only minor ones without large audiences.”

“Oh, really?” Rothbart asked. His face took on a faraway look for a few seconds, but then he shook himself and went on conversing with Terry.

Rob and Terry became close friends over the course of the next few days. Terry did not care about how Rob misused his words; Rob had good intentions at heart, and no one could ask for a better thing than that.

One day, Rob asked Terry if he wanted to act in the play, and then explained that his father would direct the play, and that his misuse of words was a test to see if Terry would treat him like a friend. Terry immediately accepted.

Terry went with Rob to his father, who immediately gave Terry a script to work on. Their friendship grew as they talked every day at lunch. After long weeks of work memorizing his lines, Terry performed in the play with Rob, the unexpected friend.

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