This story is copyrighted by Sam Lelliott, all rights reserved. Distribution, including but not limited to: posting on internet sites, newsgroups, or message boards, or in book form (either as a whole or part of a compilation), or on CD, DVD or any other electronic media, is expressly prohibited without the author's written consent.
Mark attended his local primary school and always got good marks in his academic classes and was praised by his teachers for his excellent work. Mark was well liked in the community, always ready with a smile and helping the local older residents with their shopping, when he could. His parents loved him dearly and supported him in all that he did. The problem was, wherever there is good there is often some bad.
The bad for Mark, was the limp he had had from a cycle accident when he was three years old when his foot was badly broken by a car wheel running over it. It had taken many operations to save the foot which the surgeons had finally managed. His everyday life was made unhappy by just a few children who seemed to take pleasure out of calling him gimpy. This was not helped during physical education classes where his limp created problems with his balance. He was often left out of some games because of this handicap.
Now, as always happens in schools just before they break up for the summer holidays, summer sports day loomed. Mark had never taken part before because of his limp. However, for some reason he was picked this year for the egg and spoon race. He tried to get out of it but the PE teacher would not listen to his pleas. Mark was distraught at the news, terrified that he would make a complete mess of it, lose his balance, and fall over. He was not helped by the nasty comments from some of his classmates who unkindly kept reminding him of his limp.
As the sports day drew nearer, Mark got more and more nervous and started to withdraw within himself. His teachers noticed it first as his schoolwork started to slip. His teacher Mrs Adams was so concerned that she telephoned Mark's mother. Marks parents had also noticed how Mark seemed not to be himself of late and later that evening they sat down with him and asked what was wrong.
At first Mark, being 9 and all grown up, wouldn't tell them and it was not until his mother was tucking him to bed that the tears started. Then he told his mother what was troubling him. It came out in one long sentence as if he might not have long to tell her. "Ihavetorunintheeggandspoonraceonsportsdayandiamfrightenedimightfalloverandeveryonewilllaughatme!"
Mum of course, as mums do, got the gist of what he had blurted out and smiled as mums will when their children feel troubled. "We will look at the problem tomorrow darling," his mum had said. "Now go to sleep."
Mark's mum then discussed it with her husband and gave her suggestion to help Mark. Dad readily agreed to the suggestion. The next morning she gave Mark a book to read. "You read the book every night before bed Mark and I think you will find the answer to your problem." Mark returned home from school that day and started to read the book. At first he was puzzled and then started to smile as the story progressed. Later at bedtime he told his mother he had got the message. From then on, morning after morning in the garden Mark would practice and practice until, by the time sports day arrived he hoped he was ready.
The sports day started at 2 pm. Mark watched the other races before his. Sack race, wheelbarrow race, 60 meters, 100 meters for the older ones. Separate races for boys and girls. Marks race was finally called. He had watched the girl's race and the tension built in within him. He hoped that he had made the right decision. The six boys got on the starting line and the teacher gave them all a large spoon and an egg, then, explained the rules again. If they dropped the egg they had to go back 6 yards and restart. The winner was the first one over the finish line. Mark took a deep breath to calm him. The teacher blew the whistle and off they all went
The other seven boys rushed off while Mark just walked steadily keeping a firm hold onto his spoon and egg rested in the bowl. Some spectators started to laugh a bit at Mark's action and shouted for him to run. Mark however just kept walking as one by one the others dropped their eggs and had to walk back 6 yards. The other boys kept dropping their eggs because their running made them unstable but Mark plodded on at the pace he had started with. Nine yards from the finish Mark was lying second when the boy ahead again dropped his egg and had to go back 6 yards. Nobody passed Mark and he won the race by about a foot.
A massive smile cut across Mark's face as his Mum came and gave him a hug. "Well done Mark," she said. "I am very proud of you."
"Thanks mum, that book you gave me helped so much."
His mum smiled, "I thought it would love, I have had that book since I was 8 years old." Back at school the next day Mark was being congratulated by his class, even the not very nice members.
Later that night Mark was about to go to bed when he asked his mum, could he keep the book. She smiled and told him it was already his forever if he wanted. Mark ran over and kissed her on the cheek and she turned away with a little tear in her eye.
Mark went to bed early but instead of going straight to sleep, he picked up the book, looked at the cover and gave it a kiss. He read the cover and smiled.
The Tortoise and the Hare
"I love you tortoise," he said and set about reading the story again.
The tortoise and the hare Aesop's Fables. :)