|Publisher:||IFWG Publishing International|
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|Age Range:||9 - 12 Years|
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One day in the city of Atlanta, a third grader named Alex was walking a short distance to school. It was a nice day, however Alex seemed very sad.
Alex learned at an early age that he was different than other people. Alex was born with a condition called Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral Palsy affects the brain and the muscles and in Alex's case it caused him to walk with a slight limp. It also affected movement on the left side of his body. His brain lacked the signals it needs to tell his muscles when to relax or when to contract; so his muscles were always somewhat stiff, which caused him a bit of physical pain.
Despite this disability, Alex had always had a great outlook and a positive attitude about himself. Then one day things changed.
As he walked toward his school, Alex met his friends, Michael who had Spina Bifida, Henry nicknamed 'Harry', Diana who had Multiple Sclerosis, and Jenna.
They were waiting for Alex at the playground and Diana called out to him, "Hey Alex, what's wrong? Your eyes are red, have you been crying?" Diana and Alex had been friends since they were in pre-school.
Alex looked at her copper-red hair, hazel eyes, and the warm smile on her pretty freckled face. He knew she truly cared about him. "It's nothing." Alex wiped his eyes.
Harry chimed in. "Something's bothering you, Alex. Was it Rodger again?" He brushed his blonde hair away from his eyes.
Diana said, "I hate Rodger."
"Me too!" said Jenna.
"It's okay," Alex said in a sad tone.
"Alex, you have to tell someone about it," Harry urged.
Alex put his hands up."No! No. People would call me a snitch." I don't know how to tell them how I feel, Alex thought. Rodger is so hard on me. I'm just like my friends but he does not bother them. Why has he picked me as his favorite target? I hate school ... "I have to go!" he said abruptly.
Just then the school bell rang and they headed to their class. Once inside they all sat in the front row.
As usual Rodger sat behind Alex. Rodger was one of those kids that did not seem happy unless he was putting others down in some way. He always picked on Alex from the time they were in first grade. Back then it was just the, "you can't keep up with me" and "you can't do this" or "that because of your leg." It didn't really bother Alex that much back then. But lately things had gotten worse.
Rodger had jet-black hair that he slicked down and dark brown eyes; sometimes he would wear dark eye make-up. The look was to intimidate those that he could. He always wore black T-shirts with skulls and bones or dragons on them. He was bigger than the other children in the class because he was held back in first grade and that is how he met Alex. He usually called Alex the "smart kid" and Rodger did not say it in a complimentary way.
As the bell rang, Rodger shot a spitball at the back of Alex's head.
Alex lowered his head. He was used to the daily routine. He knew that if he said anything it would only cause him trouble after school.
"Rodger Jenkins! I saw that. Don't do it again," their teacher, Mrs. Snell, called out loudly, and the class came to order.
Rodger rolled his eyes and whispered, "That will cost you."
Alex got a sick feeling in his stomach.
As the day wore on, Alex kept thinking about Rodger and why he always wanted to bully him. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I hate school. I hate living.
Alex wanted to be a writer and he wrote down his dreams in stories that he shared with his friends, but now, his writing had taken a turn to a more negative, darker tone. He wrote about ways he could seek revenge against Rodger, but never named him in those stories for fear Rodger might find out. He also wrote about ending his life and how he would be free from his pain. You see, Alex was always in pain from his disability but it was the sharp words and torment from Rodger that was pushing him to the edge.
"What are you writing about today, Alex?" Jenna asked.
"It's private," Alex said, and his sadness was apparent.
Just then Rodger ran up and snatched the paper from Alex, and fled across the playground to a group of boys that Rodger could get to go along with his bullying.
"Let's see what you're always writing about, smart boy! Better not be about me!" Rodger sneered, and started to read. "'Ways to die.' Looks interesting. 'Gun, pills, jump, cut wrists.' Hey boys, poor little Alex is writing about killing himself. Wouldn't that be nice? Go ahead, Alex, make our world a better place." He threw the papers back at Alex and walked away laughing with his buddies.
"Alex? What's gotten into you?" Diana asked him with deep concern in the tone of her voice. "I know Rodger bothers you, but to even think about killing yourself ..."
"I'm tired of him always putting me down and then there are the beatings and taking my lunch money," Alex sobbed, and ran off the playground.
Harry brushed his hair back. "I've never seen him so upset. Do you really think he would do something to hurt himself?"
"I don't know, but if he won't tell someone, we need too." Diana pushed the wheels on her wheelchair as fast as she could towards the office.
Back in class, Rodger sat behind where Alex usually sat, but Alex was missing.
Mrs. Snell spoke to Rodger privately and he shouted, "Did he tell you that?"
Mrs. Snell replied, "No, Rodger, he didn't. I heard it from some of the other kids. You need to go to the office. The principal wants to talk to you.
As he left the room Rodger gave an evil look towards Alex's friends.
After that day Rodger minded his behavior for a few weeks, till things settled down.
A few days later, at home, "How was your day, Alex?" Zachary, Alex's stepfather asked warmly, as he came down the hallway of their apartment.
"It was okay," Alex replied. He never let his family know about being bullied or the sadness he felt due to it. The pain from his disability masked the pain in his heart so that even his family was unaware of the secret he kept to himself.
Just then Alex's stepsister, Liz, walked in. She was in the sixth grade and she was very close to her stepbrother and often did illustrations for his stories.
"Hi Dad, hi Alex," she said, her voice friendly, her fingers ruffling Alex's hair as she walked down the hall to her room.
"Hi, Liz," Zach called out.
"I've gotta go," Alex said, as he walked away.
He went to his room and opened the door. The walls of Alex's room were covered with posters of super heroes. He escaped here often to try to forget the emotions of going to school and the painful words Rodger tossed so carelessly.
He placed his backpack on the bed and walked down the hallway and knocked on Liz's door.
Liz smiled. "Hey, buddy, what's up? Come on in."
"This is my newest super hero! What do you think?" Alex asked, showing her what he had written.
"Can you draw me a superhero like this? One who will protect kids from bullies?"
"Sure. But I need to do my homework first. Is someone bullying you, Alex?"
"Me, no ... not me ... He, he bullies some of the other kids, but I'm too tough for him. He would never bother me." Alex feigned a smile.
"Okay, little brother, I will draw you something in a little while."
"Great, I can't wait to see it!" Alex replied.
A few days later, while on his way to school, Rodger waited for Alex. This time the harsh words turned to violence. Alex tried to defend himself but Rodger was too big and strong. When Rodger felt he had given sufficient punishment he left Alex where he had thrown him, in the bushes.
Alex just laid there for a long while. He tried to stand up. He hurt all over but the pain in his heart was the worst. I can't keep doing this. I don't want to live. His thoughts turned inward and he started towards home.
"Who's there?" Alex asked nervously as he heard something behind him, worried that Rodger had returned.
"Don't be afraid. My name is —"
Turning, Alex shouted, "Streak!" and a smile came to his face. "I know who you are, everyone knows you!"
Streak reached down and brushed Alex's matted hair with his fingers. "I've been watching you for some time now and I see that you have a problem."
"Yeah. A big, fat bully named Rodger," Alex replied.
"No, Alex, it's not the bully that is your problem."
Alex looked up and his brow tightened. "What do you mean?"
"Does this bully push your friends around?"
"Not too much. Diana won't let him."
"Your little friend, Diana, the girl in the wheelchair?"
"Yes, she is little and in a wheelchair but she's a tough girl." Alex dusted his shirt off.
"So, Alex, if this little girl in a wheelchair can stop the bully, why can't you?"
"He's stronger than I am. You can see what he did to me."
Streak smiled. "Yes, I see that. So does Diana fight this bully and win?"
"Diana, fight? No." Alex laughed.
"So she defeats the bully without fighting?" Streak asked.
Alex thought about Streak's point. "Yes, I guess she does. Whenever Rodger tries to call her names she just says, "Whatever!' Puts her hands up and leaves. If he tries to follow her she turns and tells him to, "Stop it or you will regret it."
"So why won't that work for you?"
"I don't know. I tried a couple of times and he just keeps at me till I give up."
"I think I see the problem. You don't have confidence in yourself. You have let Rodger take it away. You are more concerned about what he says about you than you are about who you really are. Only you can change that, and I think I can help a little."
Streak pulled a gold and purple suit from a bag he was carrying. The top had a large GS on the front of it, with a tornado behind the letters. "This is for you," Streak said, handing Alex the suit.
"Wow, cool!" Alex said. "What does the GS stand for?"
"It is your superhero name, Golden Spinner." Streak smiled as he watched a transformation before his eyes as Alex found strength within himself. "When you put this suit on, it will release powers within you that will protect you from that bully. Those powers will be so strong that no bully will ever harm you again."
"This is cool. Wait, are you sure? Rodger is a big guy. Are you sure he can't hurt me if I wear this?"
"Yes, even if you just have it with you, it will definitely protect you, but please remember, only use your powers to do good. Never become a bully to stop a bully.
"If you were to do that, your powers will stop working." Streak grinned. "Besides, if you ever need me I will be close by. But I know the powers this suit has, so from now on you can take care of yourself."
Alex stood tall and said, "Yes, Sir."
"I have to go. I will be keeping an eye on you." Streak disappeared as quickly as he had appeared.
Later that day at school, Diana was very worried. "Rodger showed up very happy today and Alex is not here. I heard him say something about putting him in his place."
"What should we do? The last time you told a teacher he said he would get you the next time." Harry was distressed.
"Rodger doesn't scare me. He can say what he wants, that doesn't bother me, and he can make any threats he wants, but he knows that if he ever touches me, my older brother will take care of it and then my dad would take over. I'm going to talk to the principal."
Just then, Alex came running up, his clothing torn and there was dried blood on his face. "Hey, I made it."
Diana said, "What happened? It was Rodger! That's it, Alex, you're coming with me to the principal's office."
"No, it's okay. I got this. Something amazing happened. I will tell you about it later. But I'm okay, now. Let's get to class."
Diana did not like the idea but followed Alex into the classroom.
Alex took his seat and glanced back at Rodger. "You will never hurt me again!" Alex said, and he smiled.
Rodger grimaced. "Need another beating?"
Alex giggled, "What did you say? I couldn't hear you."
This made Rodger mad and he shouted, "I'm going to beat you again!"
Just then Mrs. Snell entered the room, saw Alex with his torn shirt, and she heard Rodger shouting threats. "That's it! Rodger go to the office. Alex you come with me to the nurse. The rest of you sit here quietly until I get back."
"Finally!" Diana breathed a sigh of relief. "Alex did the right thing. I wonder what got into him. Now Rodger will have to pay for what he has done."
Jenna came in late and only heard part of what had just occurred. "What happened? I saw Rodger in the hallway and he looked frightened."
"Alex got Rodger to threaten him in front of a teacher. So Alex didn't rat him out, Rodger did it himself. That was so smart of him." Harry grinned widely.
That evening, on his way home, as Alex passed The World of Glenn Cola Company, he thought about his Golden Spinner costume. He had still not put it on. So he touched it and to his surprise, in the blink of an eye, he was the Golden Spinner. Under his feet there was a small tornado that could carry him at near the speed of sound. He also noticed that the pain he constantly felt was gone. He could move so fast, he decided to look around the city.
The city was very large and he went down each street looking at all the buildings. He then realized that it must be late so he went as fast as he could back to the World of Glenn Cola building. When he got there he thought about being Alex again and the costume came off and he was once again Alex. He looked at his watch and to his surprise it was only one minute later than the time it was when he left. He smiled. This is amazing. I better get home.
The next day at school Alex had his Golden Spinner suit in his backpack as he approached his friends.
"Hi, everyone! I'm sorry for being so down lately," he said with a wide smile. "It was just getting to me. Rodger was always talking bad about me and I let it get to me. But I learned that what he says doesn't matter. What matters is what I know about myself."
"I agree," Harry said. "You can't let it get to you. Maybe, someday, Rodger will change."
Alex thought about what Streak had told him, and replied. "I am going to help him."
"What?" Harry shouted excitedly. "What makes you think you could help Rodger stop being a bully?" "Something a friend told me. Hey, I have something to show you." He pulled out the Golden Spinner outfit.
"Spandex?" Diana laughed. "What is that?" Alex told them what Streak had said to him and about his trip around the city the day before.
"You mean Streak, the famous superhero gave you superpowers?" Harry looked doubtful.
"No, he gave me this. What he said was that I always had the powers in me, but it is this suit that will bring them out. Here, let me show you."
Alex barely got the words out when, "Whoa!" Jenna exclaimed. "Where did you come from?"
"Uh ... who are you? What are you? And where is Alex?" Harry was stunned.
"I told you, I am the Golden Spinner!"
"Alex? It is real, I mean you are real?" Diana was astounded.
"Yes! A real superhero is here at our school. So are you going to beat up Rodger?" Jenna asked.
"No. Streak told me that as long as I don't do what the bullies do I will have my powers, but if I ever become like them, talking bad to people and hurting them, I will lose my powers forever. I must do good, that is the source of my power."
In class, Alex glanced back at Rodger's empty seat.
"Are you OK, Alex?" Mrs. Snell said. "He won't hurt you anymore."
"Yes. I was just thinking about Rodger. I wonder if he is okay. One of the other kids said they saw him this morning and he had a black eye and was pretty beat up. He's usually here before me."
Mrs. Snell shook her head in amazement." After all that he did to you, I am surprised that you would care about him. But it shows that you are a good person. His suspension is for two weeks. When he gets back we will see how he does. But if he ever bullies you again, you let me know right away."
"I hope he learns a lesson. But he won't be bullying me anymore." Alex said confidently.
A few weeks later, during recess, Alex, Diana, Harry, Michael and Jenna were playing ball when Rodger approached them and snatched their ball from Harry.
"Hey, what gives, Rodger?" Alex demanded.
"It's my ball now!" Rodger yelled.
"No! We were playing with it first!" Diana shouted.
"That's just too bad!" Rodger yelled and walked away.
"Alex, turn into the Golden Spinner and get our ball back." Harry shouted.
"No, not for a ball. We can find another ball. But I think I will talk to him, but not now. I will wait until the time is right." Alex headed towards the supply room to find another ball.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Golden Spinner"
Copyright © 2014 Jennifer R. Resetar.
Excerpted by permission of IFWG Publishing International.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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