CHAPTER SIX – SAM AT HOME
Sam had been home for a week and it wasn’t getting much better. He was glad to be out of hospital and trying to live a normal life again – but it wasn’t normal and it would never be again. He was a cripple – they told him not to say that word, but that was what he was. A cripple. He could not run, nor even walk nor stand up and his world was full of barriers now that were not barriers before, and weren’t barriers to other people. Stairs, steps, narrow doorways, rough steep ground – and cobbles – bloody cobbles and bloody high kerbs. Everything took more effort and more time; even getting up and going to bed. And worst of all, most of the boys he had thought were his friends simply couldn’t be bothered to wait for him or help him.
People had simply changed, mostly for the worse. Not his sister Sophie though. She was great. A year older than him, she used to be just silly or bossy and never thought about anything except girl things, but now she made time for him. She noticed when he needed help and did things without saying or making a fuss. Sophie was good.
But his mother hadn’t changed. He could never forgive her for leaving his father and he had always hoped she would go back home – to their real home with his father – but now she never could. Somehow she seemed sort of mechanical, Sam thought. She looked after him, got his meals and helped him with his clothes, but she didn’t seem to understand he was fourteen and didn’t want his mother dressing him. Anyway, he would have to learn to do things for himself and though it had been embarrassing at first, he would really rather ask Sophie for help if he needed it.
As for George – he had been a real surprise. He hadn’t liked George. He had stolen Sam’s mother from his father and broken up their home. And he was a teacher. And he was boring. Yet it was George who had fixed things. He seemed to understand what Sam needed. The house where they lived was quite old and a bit higgledy-piggeldy and George had always had the best room in the place as his study, but he had moved out and made it into a bed-sitting room for Sam.
Sam’s emotions still swung sharply – sometimes he was depressed and sad – he even wondered if life was worth living at all – and then suddenly something good happened and he was sure that he could overcome his injuries. It had not been easy on his first day back at school. He didn’t want people to be sorry for him, or treat him differently, but it would be nice if they didn’t let doors swing back in his face. Games were pretty awful. He knew he could cope with most things, but he was still glad to get home every day, just to get away from other people.
That day – the day Ben arrived at Canine Partners – was the day that George had told him about the break-in at Sam’s father’s flat.
“Look Sam,” George had said. “There is something you should know about your father.”
Sam felt a flash of anger. What business was it of George’s to tell him what he should know about his father? He almost told him to mind his own business – but then saw from George’s face that he was uncomfortable about it too.
from "Ben's Story" by Norman Tebbit
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