A Change of Heart
by Niamh Thornberry (age 17, Clarehall, Dublin)
You have the right to special education and care if you have a disability, as well as all the rights in this Convention, so that you can live a full life. Photograph: Getty Images
It is not just any other Friday afternoon,
Lincoln is relaxing in his old rocking chair, while reliving his memories from the past as it is the five-year anniversary of his wife’s death. His wife would join him in the sitting room every Friday morning to read her books, her favourite was Pride and Prejudice.
He remembers the way she frowned at him through the lenses of her glasses when he would interrupt her as she read.
A tear rolled down his face, as he looked at the small photograph of his wife on their wedding day. She was beautiful, like a daisy in a garden of weeds, she stood out.
He regretted the times he neglected her, he would do anything just to see her one more time.
Lincoln was forever turning his sadness into anger and frustration.
His thoughts were interrupted when he heard a loud knock on the door and a voice shouting, “Sir, sir! I saw the sign outside, are the puppies still for sale? Please sir!”
Lincoln grabbed his cane and hobbled toward the door. A little boy stared up at him, he looked no older than nine, wearing a baseball cap which was so big it covered his eyes, and a tee-shirt reading “New York Yankees”.
“What is your name boy?” Lincoln asked.
“Roy, Roy Fischer, I live two blocks away.”
“Go home boy, there is no puppies for sale here,” Lincoln raised his voice, trying to talk over the loud barking coming from his back yard.
Roy heard these barks so he decided to just walk straight in the house.
“Nice place you got here,” Roy exclaimed. “This big house all to yourself, where be the missus?”
Lincoln ignored Roy’s question and led him to the backyard.
“These are the puppies, take your pick.” Roy examined the cage, counting each pup. “One, two, three, four . . . I’d like him sir,” Roy said, while pointing at the fifth pup. The pup was in the corner of the cage alone, away from the other pups.
“You want the runt,” Lincoln sneered. “He isn’t a real puppy, just look at his leg, he can barely run, he is nothing but a nuisance, go ahead boy, pick another one.”
Roy glanced down at his feet then quickly back to Lincoln. “You see sir, I’m not so perfect myself.” Roy paused, lifted up his trousers and revealed a brace running from his ankle to the top of his knee. “I was in an accident about two years ago where it left my leg injured.
“When I saw that puppy it reminded me how I first felt after the accident, I felt excluded from the other boys at school. I’m sure they laughed at me behind my back and called me useless.”
Lincoln was speechless – he didn’t know how to comfort the boy. Roy wiped his eyes and started talking again: “If you let me have this puppy I can make him feel loved and accepted like I never did.” Roy laughed: “We could limp everywhere together.”
Lincoln felt ashamed for being so mean to this little boy. Since his wife’s death five years ago, he was never the same, he became narky and rude towards his neighbours. He now knew something had to change.
If his wife was here she would have invited Roy in, sat him down and made him feel welcome. Why was he acting like this? What had gotten into him?
Lincoln reached into the cage, lifted the puppy up and placed him into Roy tiny hands.
“Take care of him, Roy. I believe in you.”
A few weeks later, Roy got a letter in the post – it was from Lincoln. It read: “Hope everything is going well with you and your new family member. Please enjoy the game.”
Roy looked puzzled but quickly realised what Lincoln meant by enjoy the game. Along with the letter were two tickets to a game.
You have the right to special education and care if you have a disability, as well as all the rights in this Convention, so that you can live a full life