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boy painting fence

An Unexpected Friend

The bell rang. Sam dashed out of his classroom. It was the end of school, and he had to get home as fast as possible before the bullies spotted him.

Sam had a very big problem with the bullies. He was no longer his usual self. Both his family and friends had remarked on that.

“Are you all right?” a friend had asked. “You are so different nowadays. You daydream in class and you have become very quiet. Is anything wrong?”

At home, his mother’s once-savoury cooking tasted like sawdust to him. His nights were no better; they were spent tossing and turning in bed. The bullies were trying to extort money from him, but he had refused to give in. He might be afraid of him, but he was also very stubborn.

Sam glanced at his watch. He had only made his way past the first few blocks of flats when the bullies’ gang suddenly appeared in front of him.

“Where do you think you are going? We have been waiting for you!” growled the leader, Alex, as he thrust out a hand.

“No,” Sam said, “You can do whatever you want, but I am not giving you anything!”

Alex gave a signal and four other boys slowly circled around Sam. Alex seized him by the collar and was about to strike him when a strong hand intervened. It was John, the burliest member of the gang.

“Let him go, Alex,” John said quietly.

Alex protested, but John was insistent. Alex did not like having his authority challenged but knew he could not win the battle. He let go of Sam, with a curt warning, “There will always be another time.” With that, he spat on the ground, glared at John and Sam, and left with the others.

Sam sank to the ground, his whole body shaking from the encounter. After some time, he looked gratefully at John.

“Why did you do that?” he asked.

“You were brave. I admire that,” John said.

When Sam finally regained his composure, they walked home together, talking and getting to know each other along the way. Sam learned that John’s father had left his family when he was just a toddler. Since his mother was working most of the time, he had become self-reliant, but lonely. Then, he met Alex and his gang, who readily accepted him as a potentially useful member of the gang. In the meantime, John began to neglect his studies and gradually became a juvenile delinquent.

Soon, they reached Sam’s house.

“Thanks again for helping me out,” Sam said. “I owe you one.”

“Well, there is something you could do for me,” John said hesitantly.

“What is it?” Sam asked.

“Now that I have split from the gang, I am going to need some new friends…….,” he replied.

Sam gave a wide grin. He understood perfectly. “I will see you in school tomorrow, John,” he said. With that, they shook hands, and said bye to each other.

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Short Stories

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