Chapter no 21 – ‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Padawan‌


That night I cut off the little braid on the back of my head. Dad noticed first.

“Oh good,” he said. “I never liked that thing.” Via couldn’t believe I had cut it off.

“That took you years to grow!” she said, almost like she was angry. “Why did you cut it off?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. “Did someone make fun of it?” “No.”

“Did you tell Christopher you were cutting it off?” “We’re not even friends anymore!”

“That’s not true,” she said. “I can’t believe you would just cut it off like that,” she added snottily, and then practically slammed my bedroom door shut as she left the room.

I was snuggling with Daisy on my bed when Dad came to tuck me in later. He scooched Daisy over gently and lay down next to me on the blanket.

“So, Auggie Doggie,” he said, “it was really an okay day?” He got that from an old cartoon about a dachshund named Auggie Doggie, by the way. He had bought it for me on eBay when I was about four, and we watched it a lot for a while—especially in the hospital. He would call me Auggie Doggie and I would call him “dear ol’ Dad,” like the puppy called the dachshund dad on the show.

“Yeah, it was totally okay,” I said, nodding. “You’ve been so quiet all night long.”

“I guess I’m tired.”

“It was a long day, huh?” I nodded.

“But it really was okay?”

I nodded again. He didn’t say anything, so after a few seconds, I said: “It was better than okay, actually.”

“That’s great to hear, Auggie,” he said quietly, kissing my forehead.

“So it looks like it was a good call Mom made, your going to school.” “Yeah. But I could stop going if I wanted to, right?”

“That was the deal, yes,” he answered. “Though I guess it would depend on why you wanted to stop going, too, you know. You’d have to let us know. You’d have to talk to us and tell us how you’re feeling, and if anything bad was happening. Okay? You promise you’d tell us?”


“So can I ask you something? Are you mad at Mom or something? You’ve been kind of huffy with her all night long. You know, Auggie, I’m as much to blame for sending you to school as she is.”

“No, she’s more to blame. It was her idea.”

Mom knocked on the door just then and peeked her head inside my room.

“Just wanted to say good night,” she said. She looked kind of shy for a second.

“Hi, Momma,” Dad said, picking up my hand and waving it at her. “I heard you cut off your braid,” Mom said to me, sitting down at

the edge of the bed next to Daisy.

“It’s not a big deal,” I answered quickly. “I didn’t say it was,” said Mom.

“Why don’t you put Auggie to bed tonight?” Dad said to Mom, getting up. “I’ve got some work to do anyway. Good night, my son, my son.” That was another part of our Auggie Doggie routine, though I wasn’t in the mood to say Good night, dear ol’ Dad. “I’m so proud of you,” said Dad, and then he got up out of the bed.

Mom and Dad had always taken turns putting me to bed. I know it was a little babyish of me to still need them to do that, but that’s just how it was with us.

“Will you check in on Via?” Mom said to Dad as she lay down next to me.

He stopped by the door and turned around. “What’s wrong with Via?”

“Nothing,” said Mom, shrugging, “at least that she would tell me.

But … first day of high school and all that.”

“Hmm,” said Dad, and then he pointed his finger at me and winked. “It’s always something with you kids, isn’t it?” he said.

“Never a dull moment,” said Mom.

“Never a dull moment,” Dad repeated. “Good night, guys.”

As soon as he closed the door, Mom pulled out the book she’d been

reading to me for the last couple of weeks. I was relieved because I really was afraid she’d want to “talk,” and I just didn’t feel like doing that. But Mom didn’t seem to want to talk, either. She just flipped through the pages until she got to where we had left off. We were about halfway through The Hobbit.

“ ‘Stop! stop!’ shouted Thorin,” said Mom, reading aloud, “but it was too late, the excited dwarves had wasted their last arrows, and now the bows that Beorn had given them were useless.

“They were a gloomy party that night, and the gloom gathered still deeper on them in the following days. They had crossed the enchanted stream; but beyond it the path seemed to straggle on just as before, and in the forest they could see no change.”

I’m not sure why, but all of a sudden I started to cry.

Mom put the book down and wrapped her arms around me. She didn’t seem surprised that I was crying. “It’s okay,” she whispered in my ear. “It’ll be okay.”

“I’m sorry,” I said between sniffles.

“Shh,” she said, wiping my tears with the back of her hand. “You have nothing to be sorry about.…”

“Why do I have to be so ugly, Mommy?” I whispered. “No, baby, you’re not …”

“I know I am.”

She kissed me all over my face. She kissed my eyes that came down too far. She kissed my cheeks that looked punched in. She kissed my tortoise mouth.

She said soft words that I know were meant to help me, but words can’t change my face.

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