It was the assignment from school that started it. An interview or project about an everyday hero, no superman, no batman or Buffy, in fact no one with a secret identity. Of course Jenna was not worried nor was she was in a hurry, because her next door neighbor had been in the army. He was nice, friendly and a senior, so did not go anywhere. Yep, Mr. Sam was the perfect choice.
Now some of the other kids had perfect choices also like, Joe whose Mom was a firefighter and Abby whose dad was a policeman. Jenna did feel a little sorry for the kids who did not live with a hero or beside one, they had to get to work right away. They had to actually find an everyday hero.
So Jenna who knew lots about Mr. Sam, also knew she did not have to rush around with this project. So when Joe asked if she wanted to play grounders at the park with the grade 6’s, of course she said yes. And when Joe said, I have to go home and talk to my Mom about firefighting before she goes to work. Jenna just smiled and waved because she knew Mr. Sam did not go to work. She stayed at the park playing grounders until it got dark and everyone headed home for supper.
The next day at school when Abby asked her to come over for a play date, she quickly said yes. The two girls played soccer, and dolls until finally Abby’s dad came home and gave Jenna a short ride in the police car to her house. Abby said, I am going to put this in my report. Jenna just smiled, she was thinking about Mr. Sam, his medals and those funny black and white pictures he had.
As the days went by Jenna found lots of things to do, colour in her favourite book, watch a funny tv show and play hop scotch on the driveway. She did not work on her project. Everyone at school was working hard on theirs but Jenna knew hers would be easy.
The very night before the big due date, Jenna went to Mr. Sam’s door and rang the bell. There was no answer, she rang again, still no answer. Jenna was very concerned, where could he be? She then peeked in the side window, no Mr. Sam, the back window, no Mr. Sam. How could this be? Mr. Sam never went anywhere.
Jenna rushed home and found her Mom in the kitchen. Mom, where could Mr. Sam be? He did not answer the bell. Her Mom said, oh, honey, he went to visit his daughter and we are to watch his house for a few days. Jenna could feel her face getting hot. This was a problem, a big problem. Jenna needed to find a hero right now.
Mom, have you ever done anything brave or amazing? Jenna’s Mom looked at her, and said, Jenna you know everything about me, I lived in a small town, went to college, had kids and work as a dentist. I am not brave or very strong, maybe go ask your Dad.
So Jenna went to the office where her Dad was working on the computer, but she was not very hopefully. Her Dad was an engineer, and not the cool kind that drive trains but the kind that does lots of math. But she asked anyhow, Dad have you ever done anything thing brave or amazing?
Her Dad rubbed his eyes, brave or amazing? Well I was brave enough to ask your Mom to marry me and smart enough to keep her. Does that count?
Hmmm…Jenna went to ask her brother, Charlie, he was already in junior high, surely he must have done something brave. Charlie, have you ever done anything brave or amazing? Charlie paused his video game and said, Jenna, I am an amazing video player, I can dribble a soccer ball like crazy, girls love me but I am not particularly brave.
Oh, oh, Jenna realized she was in trouble. She went to sit in the living room, where her sister was. Now her sister Kelly was sitting on the floor, lining up her crayons in perfect order according to colour. She was siting there with her big sound proof ear protectors on, rocking back and forth a bit. As Jenna sat there trying to figure out how she was going to find a superhero at this late date, she watched Kelly. Kelly had a crazy thing called autism and it made her sensitive to clothes, and noises, she did some weird things like lining up crayons but not actually coloring with them, and getting upset if they moved the furniture around.
And if you tried to look at Kelly, she always moved her eyes away from you and she took forever to get dressed, as everything had to be perfect. Which of course was almost impossible as she could barely do any buttons up and zippers were an exhausting exercise for her. Kelly did not actually have very many friends and sometimes she would scream out loud in public when she became overwhelmed. But she could also remember crazy things, in fact she could tell you everything about buses. She could tell you to take the Queensland 35 to the mall and the exact times it would be at the stop. She also knew to take the # 10 downtown and to transfer onto the #28 if you wanted to get to the bookstore. In fact, Jenna’s family never worrried about missing a bus, as they always relied on Kelly to know the answer. Kelly knew everything there was to know about buses.
As Jenna lay on the couch pondering about the bravest person she knew and who she could possibly write about since Mr. Sam was gone, her Mom was a dentist, her Dad thought being brave was getting married and her brother was cool but apparently not brave. Then it came to her and she began to work.
The next day as the kids handed in their assignments she saw there was firefighters, policemen, army personnel, and doctors. But Jenna was not worried because her story had started like this….