Senior 2nd Prize Winning Story
“Unique” by Fathima Valliyangal, Sunrise English Private School, UAE, is the Second Prize winning story in the senior category of the first biannual Short Story Contest 2019.
Percy closed his eyes. Yes, there he was again. He was surrounded by clouds and with all the strange creatures he had drawn in his book. He wasn’t standing, he was floating! He looked around and saw that he was in a beautiful island filled with beautiful gardens, large playgrounds and huge houses - and no one lived there. His biggest enemies weren’t anywhere in sight- the alphabet and books.
Suddenly he was hit by a bullet. BOOM! He opened his eyes and saw a small piece of chalk dropping to the floor. He was back to his classroom.
“Percy Robinson. Stand up right now! You know that you are not supposed to be sleeping during your lessons, right?” That was his teacher- Mrs. Ruby. He stood up reluctantly. He heard all his classmates snickering. “Write in your notebook ‘I WILL NOT SLEEP IN CLASS’ 30 times... no make it a 50 instead,” She said. “Now turn to page no. 108 and read it out loud” she screeched again.
No way! This can’t be happening to him! First the teacher gave him an imposition and then she wanted him to read? He gulped. He turned to page 108. The words were jumping around and laughing at him. He stood there staring at the book.
“We are waiting for you to read Percy. I cannot waste this entire period just to see you staring at your book like an idiot!” His teacher yelled.
“M…Ma’am the words are running and jumping around.”
Everyone started to laugh.
“What’s this new excuse? I hate lame excuses. You have been dreaming too much idiot. You haven’t been reading at home, have you?” the teacher screamed.
He thought of yesterday. He had spent three hours trying to read but all he could manage had been ‘one day’- which did not explain the story.
“You are too lazy, boy,” she screamed again. Percy sighed. How much ever he tried to explain to the teacher he couldn’t read, she never understood him. Letters were his worst enemies. They never agreed with him.
Percy wasn’t a bright student at all. His report cards came back with F's always. He was in third grade. having lost his father shortly after birth, he lived with his mother who earned a living as a domestic worker. Percy contributed what he could by selling newspapers. Life was difficult.
But Percy had one thing going for him. He had a deep, wild imagination inside him. When his mother told the teacher about Percy’s problem with writing and reading, Mrs. Ruby wouldn’t agree. “He’s just lazy.” she would say. But Percy’s mother knew he was different from other children. He was special. He would notice things that most people didn’t, and those things gave him more ideas and boosted his creativity. He was amazing at drawing and painting. His drawings were unique and had something to express. His mother loved his drawings. Sometimes he used to draw the world inside sewers, holes, burrows and an island above the clouds. He sometimes used to draw strange and weird creatures and monsters that never existed. when he went outside to play, he played in unique ways. He would visualize the playground as a map, and he would see the other team mates as monsters marching to him. He used to see the ball as a treasure he has to kick to a goal post. His friends loved his company because Percy was very humorous and cracked jokes. He was also bullied by some of his classmates because of his reading and writing problem.
The next day, he had Art class- his favorite subject. That day he drew a painting of Mrs. Ruby as a devil holding a stick and all the letters of the alphabet floating around her. Most of his pictures were drawn by scribbling and they looked amazing. The teacher was really impressed, and they all had a good laugh over it. He even made comics without conversations. He understood a lot from pictures and drawings.
Impressed by his drawings, his art teacher told him to bring few of his best artwork to class the next day for a big exhibition. He went home and shut the door of his room. He was very happy. He rummaged through all his drawings and picked a few that were mind blowing and amazing.
The next day, he ran to school faster than usual. He gave all his paintings to his art teacher. She was in a really grumpy mood. But when she looked at those paintings, a smile spread across her face. The First one was a painting of him floating in sky and meditating. He had drawn his dream world-The beautiful island above the clouds. The second one was letters looking like monsters and floating around. In the middle, he was standing, half-dead. He had painted his feelings. Another one was a portrait of his mother drawn with dots. There were many other amazing drawings. All of them described his feelings- in a unique way. His teacher was very impressed.
During the exhibition, everyone lined up near Percy’s paintings. Many took photos of it. They loved his drawings. They all asked him questions regarding his artworks.
The next day when he came to school, everyone was looking at him and smiling. They were all waving at him. That’s weird he thought. He soon reached his class and found Mrs. Ruby with a smile spread across her face. “Good morning, Percy! Did you see the news today?” He was very busy that morning. “No, I didn’t. Why?” She smiled and said “During the exhibition yesterday, a famous business man had taken photos of your paintings and posted it on social media. His posts went viral and many people want to meet and talk to you. You will be having an interview today, Percy. Get ready!” Wait, was he dreaming? Percy thought. Was this really happening to him? Or was this another one of his weird dream? He was given a suit to put on for the interview. He was very nervous.
He soon reached the room. A rich man was sitting in a chair wearing a coat and drinking tea. “Come In, Percy” he said. He sat in a chair before him. The man showed him the photos he had posted. Percy told the man about his family background and his love for painting and playing soccer. The man sensed through his drawings that he had problems with reading. He asked him about it. Percy reluctantly told him about his problems. “You are dyslexic, Percy. Do not worry. You are special. You are unique. Your disability is what makes you different-special…” He stopped. He stopped for some time for Percy to think. “Doesn’t that make me stupid? I will never succeed… and my mother ... she had hope in me…” his voice trailed off. He was trembling and sad. “No, Percy. Being dyslexic makes you unique. That is why many people wanted to see you. Your brain is different- that is why you are more creative and unique than other people. You are one of those people who can change the world. We all have faith in you.” Hearing all this, confidence started building-up inside him. “You don’t have to study in this school anymore. You will be taken to another school where there are many children like you having different talents. You will be given special art classes. You will be taught through pictures and puzzles. You will love it. It will help you grow your hidden talent. And you can make an art exhibition in a studio. We will all give your family enough money and your mother will be given a better job and you both can live in an apartment. You will be moving to another city soon.” Percy was delighted “Thank you, sir for everything.”
His mother was very proud of him. Soon, they moved to another city. He went to a school where there were students like him. He spent his day painting and learned through puzzles and comics. He also played soccer every day. His studio became famous and he was known everywhere. He often visited his art teacher, who gave him this opportunity.
Few years later, he finished his school year. He went to an Arts university. He also became amazing in soccer. He became a world-famous artist and a soccer champion. He was always called for programs to deliver speeches. “Dyslexia is not a disability. It is my superpower.” He would say. He always motivated children with dyslexia and told them about their talents. In all his speeches, he would thank all the people who helped him understand his uniqueness.