Homeless

( Intermediate Level )

Each day fades into the next for Benjamin. He lives on the streets and calls the sidewalk his bed. People pass him every day and do not give him a second look as if he is a bad person.

If only they knew him in his past. People would not be so easy to judge him. He keeps his eyes lowered and minds his own business. Trying to survive day to day.

Benjamin, once, was a very successful businessman. He had worked in the downtown business district in New York. Now, he shares the streets with so many other homeless people.

He had a loving wife, Anne, and a beautiful eight year old daughter, Katie, until that tragic day six years ago. A day he wished he could rewind and do it all over again.

He remembers that day as if it was yesterday. He woke up late and had a early business meeting. He was rushing around getting dressed when his wife called up the stairs and said , “Breakfast is ready.”

He immediately yelled back, “No time. I have a meeting and I am running late.” He ran downstairs and grabbed his suitcase.

He looked at his wife who was holding a cup of coffee for him. He shook his head and said, “I will get coffee at the office.” He smiled at his daughter and rushed out the door.

His daughter looked at his wife, with a sad face, and said, “Daddy didn’t say I love you to me.” Anne quickly responded, ” He forgot me, too, but daddy is running late for a special meeting. I know he loves you and he would want you to have a good day at school.”

Katie smiled and continued eating her breakfast. Anne gathered Katie’s homework and stuffed it into Anne’s backpack. ” Come on kiddo, finish up so you can be ready when the bus comes. We don’t want you to be like daddy and run late.

Anne ran upstairs to get her shoes from the bedroom. She would always walk her daughter to the bus stop. Katie quickly followed her up the stairs. She wanted mom to put her hair up in a ponytail.

In the rush of the morning, Anne had forgot to turn off the burner on the stove and take the skillet off the burner. She had made bacon and eggs for breakfast. The pan was too hot to move and she simply forgot to turn off the burner. Her husband had come downstairs just at the moment she had finished cooking the bacon.

As Anne was brushing Katie’s hair up into a ponytail , she looked at her watch and said, “The bus will be here in less than five minutes.

These were Anne’s last words. The hot grease, from the skillet, had started a fire and an explosion soon followed. In a matter of a few moments the house was engulfed in flames.

This was the day that Benjamin’s life had changed completely. He was given word that his wife and daughter had perished in the fire. He lost everything. His life spiraled downward to a bottomless pit of sorrow.

If only he took a few minutes more to sit down and have a few bites of breakfast with his wife and daughter. He may have realized the burner was left on. He took full blame for their deaths. He shouldn’t had been in such a hurry that morning.

He was unable to concentrate at work. His company was sympathetic for a long time following that day but they had to eventually let him go. He had lived at a hotel since the fire but without work and no money he had to find other means to sleep.

In deep state of depression he couldn’t find work. It felt as if he stopped living when he lost his wife and little girl. This is how Benjamin ended up homeless. This was his story.

The people who walked passed him on a daily basis didn’t know his story. If they could, they would avoid him completely. They would cross the street to reach the other side, in order not to have contact with him.

In some ways Benjamin felt he deserved this. Other times, he felt he shouldn’t be judged so quickly. This is human nature, he guessed. You assume before you know the story.

One late autumn evening, he had found a spot to settle down for the night. He tried to give himself a little variety where he would sleep each night. He usually found an area out of the way of heavy pedestrian traffic but close enough to people where he felt safe.

Sometimes people would drop off a few non-perishable food packages or bring him a sandwich and a hot cup of coffee. Whatever he received he was ever so grateful for. He still had his dignity about him. He never wanted to beg. He felt others needed before him and he didn’t deserve.

Benjamin was drifting off to sleep when he felt as if someone was watching him. He looked up and seen a small framed woman around thirty years old standing over him. She said, ” So mister, you want to tell me your name?” .

There was a street light behind her and as he looked up. It was difficult to make out her face. He said. “Benjamin ma’am.” She bent down and said, “Well Benjamin, my name is Annabel but you can call me Ann.” She reached her hand out for a handshake.

Benjamin just stared up at her. He had not heard that name in a long, long time. His mind drifted back to memories of the past until she began to talk again. “I believe everyone deserves a second chance and I am needing workers for my printing factory.”

I am not asking for free labor, you will be paid. Nor am I asking for hard labor. I need a few good hires to supervise the machines, as they print, and keep watch of the place at night. Are you interested?”

Without thinking, Benjamin’s answer was, “Yes, ma’am.” He had sat up by now and saw Ann’s face. She had a warm smile and beautiful chocolate – colored eyes. Just like his Anne.

“Alright then Mister Benjamin. I will be back tomorrow early in the morning. You will not need to worry about anything. You will have simple accommodations at the factory where you can sleep and cook. Nothing fancy but you will stay warm. Once you get on your feet you can make other arrangements to where you want to sleep.”

She turned and glanced back at him before she walked away, “See you tomorrow at seven in the morning. We can discuss all the details on our way to the factory.” She had turned the corner and disappeared.

Benjamin sat there just staring down the street where she had disappeared. He thought to himself, “Out of all the places I decided to hunker down for the night, he had picked this particular spot. What were the odds? Maybe this was the break he was needing. Maybe, this Miss Annabel was sent by Anne to turn his life around.”

Written by: Angel

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Vocabulary:

fades – verb: disappear

judge – verb: opinion or conclusion

district – noun: area of a city

rewind – verb: back to the beginning

ponytail – noun: a hairstyle

engulfed -verb: sweep over something, surround or cover

perished – verb: sudden death

spiraled – verb: continuous and dramatic increase

sorrow – noun: a feeling of deep distress caused by loss

sympathetic – adjective: feeling sympathy

assume – verb: without proof

variety – noun: state of being different 

pedestrian – noun: person or people walking along a road or street 

grateful – adjective: showing an appreciation of kindness

dignity – noun: worthy of honor or respect

hiresnoun: one who is hired

supervise – verb: observe or watch

accommodations – noun: temporary lodgings

on your feet – phrasal verb: well enough

glanced – verb: quick look

hunker down – phrasal verb: stay in one place

particular – adjective: special

Question(s):

Are you quick to judge people by first impressions?

Are there many homeless in your city?

Do you believe people deserve a second chance?

Abigail

( Intermediate Level )

Jeff was a troubled youth, who lived with his father and a younger brother in the small town of Dubois near the Wind River. Life as a young teen, was difficult being a son of a rancher. At age 16, he had a tremendous amount of responsibilities.

His mom had passed, a year and a half ago, after a long battle with breast cancer. Beau, his dad, was doing the best he could raising two boys, alone. He had lost his high school sweetheart and now faced life, with their sons, without her.

His brother, Samuel, was still too young to help with the cattle, in fear he may get hurt. His father didn’t want to suffer another loss. Samuel, instead, remained close to the homestead tending to the smaller animals.

With the burden of a two thousand acre ranch and six hundred head of cattle to tend to daily was a lot for Jeff and Beau to do alone. They could not afford to have hired hands. The medical expenses that occurred during his wife’s illness and the funeral had wiped out everything they had saved.

Jeff would attend school when he could. Often, his father needed his help so Jeff would stay home to help him. His teachers never understood why Beau would allow this. After all, they would tell him, “Education is important.”

Beau’s response was always the same, “Look, it is just me and my two boys. I cannot lose my ranch. My ranch will be theirs, one day. It is all I can give them, as my father passed it down to me. So, if Jeff misses a few days of school here and there, what harm does it cause?

The teachers were empathetic of Beau’s plight but it was their responsibility to report this habitual absenteeism to the head of education. From there the truancy officer would follow up with the local courts.

Under the pressure of the education and juvenile court system, Beau, reluctantly, agreed that Jeff would not miss any more school for the rest of the year.

As the school year continued, Jeff’s attitude towards school and his classmates became hostile. All Jeff could think about was his father, his brother, and the ranch.

He knew his father spent many extra hours tending to the ranch, alone. Working himself to where he couldn’t move anymore and would fall asleep early. He barely ate dinner or spent time with the boys.

The worry on his father’s face was evident. All Jeff knew was he didn’t want to lose his father too. He didn’t want his father to succumb to an illness as his mother had. Then it would just be Samuel and himself.

Jeff was falling behind in – class assignments and never turned in any homework. He didn’t want to be bothered. He would wake up early to help his dad for a few hours, before school and do the same when he got home from school. The school was the furthest from his mind.

Beau took the opportunity to speak with his eldest son, on a late afternoon, after school. They were herding the cattle to a different grazing area. “Son, I have decided to sell off all but fifty head of cattle and sell off all but 3 horses. I think as long as you are in school, I need to make things more manageable. We will take a huge loss since the cattle prices are down but I cannot think of a better option.”

Jeff thought, after he heard his father’s words, his grandfather sacrificed for his father and now he will sacrifice for his brother and himself. This ranch is his family’s legacy. A legacy that would be his and his brother’s one day.

His father continued, ” I’ve talked to old man Blake in the next valley. He said he could offer fifty dollars per head for bulls and twenty – five dollars per head for any steers, heifers, and calves. He said he had plenty of horses but was willing to pay forty dollars per head for our horses. As much as I hate to take such a loss, I agreed. He will come this weekend with his men and herd the bunch to his land. Unfortunately, mom’s horse, Abigail, is part of the deal. We don’t need an extra mouth to feed if the horse is not being used.”

Jeff couldn’t believe what his father had just said about his mom’s horse. Abigail was her pride and joy. She was the last thing they had of their mom’s memory. He didn’t want her to be sold.

Jeff’s anger at his father whelmed. How dare he think it would be okay to sell Abigail. He kicked his horse and rode off in a canter towards the field where Abigail had been turned out. The tears were streaming down his face.

He saw Abigail out in the field and began to whistle. She raised her head and looked. His mom had taught her to come to a whistle which his father always thought was silly. “She is not a dog “, he would tell her.

Abigail let out a whinny and galloped towards Jeff. He jumped off his horse and threw his arms around Abigail’s neck. He buried his face in the sorrel– colored neck and began to cry uncontrollably. He hadn’t cried since his mother’s death. His grandfather used to tell him when he was much younger, “Real cowboys don’t cry.”

Abigail stood there quietly as if she knew Jeff needed her. She stood completely still while Jeff let out the tears of sadness he had bottled up for almost two years now.

The sun was setting by the time Jeff contained his tears. He gave Abigail a forehead – to -nose nuzzle and said, “Let us go home girl”. He threw his leg up and over the saddle of his horse and grabbed the reins. He gave a short whistle and Abigail trotted behind Jeff and his horse, towards home.

Beau was standing outside waiting for Jeff to return home. He had finished moving the cattle and headed towards home when Jeff took off on his horse.

Beau was relieved when he saw Jeff crest the hill to the north and saw Abigail gingerly following. “What was his son up to?“, he thought.

Jeff, on his steed, and Abigail came to a halt at the porch steps where Beau was standing. Jeff looked into his father’s eyes. He was gathering the right words to say to him.

” Poppa, I know momma is gone and nothing will ever bring her back. Abigail is the only thing we have left of hers. Having Abigail, somehow in my mind, makes me feel as if she is still here with us. I am not willing to have her sold to old man Blake’s ranch. We can always get more cattle, in the future, but not another Abigail. Let my horse go and I will use Abigail to do my work on the ranch.”

Beau stared out into the distance after hearing his son’s words. Jeff sat, anxiously, in the saddle unsure what his father would say. Jeff’s horse was a great cutting horse whereas Abigail was never trained in cowboying. His mom had pampered her and she was more of an oversized dog.

Beau cleared his throat and began to speak quietly and calmly to his son,” When your mom was sick I promised her I would do my best to raise you boys the best that I could. I told her I wasn’t perfect and I would make mistakes. I would make sure you had a roof over your head and food in your stomach. As for all that the rest of life would bring I would take it day by day.”

He continued to stare into his son’s eyes and, ” I guess this is a time that I’ve made a huge mistake. I hadn’t realized how important Abigail was to you. I will let old man Blake know he will have one less horse to take. I am sure he will understand once I explain to him.”

Jeff, immediately, relaxed in the saddle and looked at Abigail who was standing, ever so patiently, by his side. He quickly gave her a brush on the neck. He then looked up at his father and gave a slight nod and a tip of his hat. This is the first time Jeff had spoken his mind to his father. He was on his way to becoming a man.

As Jeff and his horse headed to the barn with Abigail close behind, he thought to himself, his mother would be very proud of him. There are some things, in life, more important than money and sometimes we need to sacrifice to keep the things we love and cherish, including memories, close to us.

Written by: Angel

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Vocabulary:

tremendous – adjective:  great amount

homestead – noun: the home or land occupied by a family

hired hands – noun, plural: a person hired to do short-term manual work

empathetic – adjective: ability to understand 

plight – noun: unfortunate situation

habitual – adjective: done or doing constantly 

absenteeism – noun, plural: required to be present at a place or event but is not

truancy – noun: the action of staying away from school without good reason

juvenile – adjective:  young people

hostile – adjective: unfriendly or aggressive

succumb – verb: the effect of a disease or injury

herding – verb: practice of caring for livestock over a large area.

sacrificed – verb: give up something important or valued

legacy – noun: an amount of money or property left to someone in a will

steers – noun, plural: castrated male calf

heifers – noun, plural: a young female cow that has not borne a calf

pride and joy – idiom:  someone or something that makes someone very proud and happy

whelmed – verb: engulf

canter – verb: to ride a horse at a speed between a trot and a gallop

whinny – noun: highpitched neigh or sound a horse makes

galloped – verb: ride a horse at full speed

sorrel – adjective: reddish color coat or fur

trotted – verb: a pace faster than a walk

to crest – verb: to reach the top of a mountain or hill

gingerly – adverb: with extreme care regarding movement

steed – noun: a horse being ridden 

cowboying – verb: work as a cowboy or horse on a ranch

pampered – verb: to treat with extreme or excessive care

cherish – verb: hold something dear or close

Questions:

Do you feel crying is a sign of weakness?

Have you kept something (item) to hold onto a memory?

Akpan

( Advanced level )

At the young age of seventeen, Akpan had more weight on his shoulders than any other in his village. He was the eldest son of the tribal leader.

When he was younger he hated not having a normal childhood. When his friends went out to play, his father had other ideas for him. He was being groomed for his future responsibilities.

Akpan knew his future was clear. This year, on his eighteenth birthday he would take over the responsibilities for his father and the people. He would become the next leader. Was he ready? Would he make his father and his villagers proud?

On a hot and dusty afternoon, as Akpan sat under a tree, he thought of what the villagers needed the most. Something that could change their future and generations to come. His official duties would begin in less than three months and he wanted to prove, not only to himself but to the people, he was ready.

The people were able to provide enough food to sustain them. Growing vegetables and raising animals. They were able to build basic housing to shelter them from the elements. The only thing they were needing was the opportunity for a proper education.

Most, in his village, were unable to have any type of a formal education. They would use outdated material and books that were donated by different organizations from around the world. Most of Akpan’s own education was from reading. Any chance he had he would read.

His father, too, received his education through life itself. Not having the proverbial brick and mortar schoolhouse did not stop him nor will it stop Akpan.

Once in a while, groups from the western world would come, staying for short periods of time. They helped in any way they could. Mostly, helping the young to learn to read and write.

During this time, Akpan would take the opportunity to ask many questions. Wanting to know as much as he could about the western world, as it seemed so far away.

The latest group, a missionary group from America, had taught them to play baseball using a crude stick and anything they could find that was round and resembled a ball. To this day, they continue to play this game. One day they hope to have a real bat and ball.

When the missionaries left they said they would return, in late summer, when the temperatures cooled. They would return with more donations of clothing, treats, school supplies and non-perishable food.

Akpan remembered them saying, “If they needed anything special, send word to us. We will try to have the supplies when we return.”

Somehow, Akpan had to get word to them. He could write, not eloquently, but they must hear his plea. His mind was filled with what he wanted to say.

The next day he tore a page out of a school book. Most of the pages were filled but he managed to find one page that had one blank side.

And so he began his letter…..

Dear Madam,

On my eighteenth birthday, I will become leader of our tribe. I am ready for this responsibility and welcome any challenges. One thing I want, most of all, is for my people to have the opportunity for a real education.

I want them to have a school. An actual building with new books, desks and a teacher. I want them to have the opportunity that I , nor my father, or my grandfather never had.

I know this is quite a lot to ask from you. Our people have always appreciated everything you have done. You once told us if we needed anything to get word to you, so now I write this letter in hopes that you can help.

We shared stories and ate together. You are considered honorary members of our tribe.

Until we meet again,

Akpan

He folded the letter and tied a piece of twine around it. His way of sealing it like an official letter. He was proud of his letter. When he was unsure of the spelling of a word, he would thumb through the old school books until he found the word he wanted to use.

He sent it with a runner to the next, much larger, village. From there it would go onto the next village and so on.

He knew it could take up to a month or more to get to its destination. He just hoped it would arrive in time, for them to read, before his special day.

Akpan’s special day had come. His birthday. Moreover, the day in which he would become the new leader. Even though this was the day Akpan waited in anticipation for all his life, his spirits were low. He was hoping the missionaries would have arrived by now, but they hadn’t. He wanted to surprise his father and his village.

The ceremony was simple but beautiful. His father stepped out of their home, with a long bright yellow and red cloth wrapped around one shoulder flowing down to what seemed to be like a long skirt.

On his head was a simple matching yellow and red headpiece. In his left hand he held a small wooden ceremonial club. The club was carved with ornate birds and nestled at the top were beautiful blue feathers of the shoebill stork, cascading downward.

Akpan turned to face his father, as the villagers chanted to the cadence of the drums. His father bowed his head down as if he was giving a nod. He then passed the ceremonial club to Akpan, signifying the transfer of leadership to him.

As the summer came to an end, Akpan had settled into his new role. Making sure enough dry food was stored for the cooler months ahead. Fish were sun dried and stored . Meat was cured and salted.

He would often look down the long dusty road that led into his village. He wondered if his letter had made it to its destination. With the passing of many months, he felt it had not.

The cooler months had come and gone and new life was springing up. The trees, that lay dormant, began to show green. The wild grass had started to pry its way through the dry earth. The rains will come soon. He knew it would be time to plant this year’s crops.

Many of the wild animals would be giving birth within the next few months and this meant he would have to make sure the fencing around the crops would keep them out. The young were always inquisitive and the smells of the new vegetables were enticing. Cute as they are, the crops would be destroyed within hours.

A few months had passed and summer was approaching. The villagers would be harvesting the first crops and replanting for the next. Usually two harvests would suffice the village until the next spring.

Early one morning, the villagers were busy getting their day started. The men were tending to the animals as the women were preparing the morning meal. Life was going like clockwork.

The men had finished with the animals just about the time breakfast was ready. The women were busy gathering up the children so they, too, could have their breakfast.

One young boy came running yelling, “Akpan, Akpan…look!” as he pointed down the road. In the distance, Akpan could see not one, not two but three large trucks headed their way.

Akpan walked to the edge of the road and began to smile. Could this be what he asked for? He had given up all hope on his letter and his wish.

As the trucks drew closer, all of the people had gathered around Akpan. They, too, were watching and confused about what they saw.

The first truck came to a complete stop just a few feet from the group. Out of the passenger side jumped a small framed woman, who the villagers had recognized. She ran up to Akpan, with a huge smile across her face, she extended her arms out for an embrace.

“It has been a long time, my friend. I received your letter and it took me a while to organize such a feat, but here we are! We have enough materials to build your schoolhouse. We have new school books and desks. And we have arranged for teachers, from all over the world, to come and teach 3 months at a time.”

Akpan just stood there. Gazing at the trucks filled with what would change the future of his village. The village children squealed with delight.

Akpan’s father had been standing behind him and heard the whole conversation. He was so proud of his son. He had grown into a strong , confident man and what a great leader he had become.

Written by : Angel

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Vocabulary:

weight on his shoulders – idiom: many problems or responsibilities

groomed – verb: prepare 

sustain – verb: supply and nourish

elements – noun: weather or conditions

formal – adjective: official

outdated – adjective: out of date

proverbial – adjective: well known, traditional

brick and mortar – adjective: physical presence of a building

missionary group – noun: group of people sent into an area to promote education, literacy, health care, and economic development

crude – adjective: makeshift

resembled – verb: features of the real object or person

non-perishable – adjective: used to describe an item, usually food, that can be stored for a long time without spoiling.

eloquently – adverb: fluent or persuasive 

plea – noun: request

honorary-adjective: an honor or distinction

twine – noun: strong thread or rope usually several twisted together

anticipation – noun: expect or predict

ceremonial – adjective: formal or ritual

ornate – adjective: decorated with patterns, objects or symbols

nestled – verb: settle comfortably within or against something

cascading – verb: to flow or fall

cadence – adjective: rhythm, tempo , beat

dormant- adjective : deep sleep or inactive 

inquisitive – adjective: curious

enticing – adjective: tempting

suffice – verb: enough

tending – verb: to take care of 

clockwork – adjective: very routine *note: clockwork can be a noun if describing a particular mechanism or gears in a clock*

embrace – verb: hold closely 

feat – noun: achievement 

Question(s):

Do you think everyone deserves an opportunity to receive an education?

Have you ever known of anyone who had not finished their education? Had to drop out of school?

Chara

( Intermediate Level )

At eight years old, Chara knew she wanted to become a dancer. She had seen a dancing competition show on television and was, immediately, mesmerized.

Whenever she heard music, her body would move. She would move around the room interpreting each chord.

She told her mother that, one day, she would be famous. Her mother would frown and tell her that she needed to get such a silly notion out of her head. “You know your father would never permit this.”

Chara was hoping to graduate from high school and move to America where she could study dance at the Juilliard School in the upper west side of New York.

Was this a dream or could she really make this happen? She was determined to make it happen. Her mom’s words never dampened her spirit.

As the years passed, Chara’s natural talents were obvious. At age sixteen, she had become more confident in her abilities.

Still, not having any formal training, she would perform for the young girls in her village. Always receiving huge smiles and an ovation after each performance.

Chara had always timed her performances while her dad was at work. He felt her dancing was silly. He had told her she was to marry a nice boy, soon, and to give up this idea of hers.

One late afternoon, while Chara was helping her mother prepare dinner, she heard a group of younger girls outside chanting ,“Chara! Come out ,come out and dance!”.

She looked at her mom, her mom smiled and nodded. This was Chara’s cue that it would be ok.

Chara ran to her bedroom, grabbed her radio and then ran outside. To her surprise not only a group of young girls were standing by her door but, what seemed to be, the whole village. Mothers and fathers and grandparents!

It was an intimidating scene for her. She had never performed for such a large gathering. She took a deep breath, turned and set the radio on the ground. She turned it on and listened to the music.

She took a quick glance back and closed her eyes. She took a deep breath and let her body interpret the music. She moved gracefully around her front yard. Her body tells a story to the music.

Chara could hear the crowd, as she danced, and their sounds of appreciation. Only opening her eyes periodically. She let her mind be free, with the music.

She had not realized, as the song ended, that the crowd had become silent. As she finished, she opened her eyes to find her father standing in front of her. He looked down at her and just stared.

He had gotten home much earlier than expected. He saw the crowd standing in front of his house and pushed his way through to find out what was happening.

At that distinct moment, Chara felt a shiver of fright. Her father had told her to give up this silly idea of hers. He had his own ideas for her future.

Was he going to be upset? Was he going to make a scene?

The crowd stood there in complete silence as father and daughter stared at one another. The group of girls had no idea of tension in the air and began to clap and squeal in utter happiness.

Chara’s father stood, very silent, gazing into his daughter’s eyes. Then, she noticed a small tear run down his cheek.

At that moment, he said,” My Chara, my quiet one. You have shown me I was wrong. I just witnessed something I refused to see before. My little girl had grown up to be a graceful young woman. You danced so beautifully!”

At that moment, Chara wrapped her arms around her dad as he kissed her on the forehead. She held her father tight, she thought she may never become famous, as she once dreamt, but she would be in her father’s eyes.

Written by: Angel

If you appreciate what I do:

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Follow me on:

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Vocabulary:

mesmerized: hold the attention of someone 

interpreting: explain the meaning of word(s) or regarding actions

frown: facial expression showing unhappiness

notion:  impulse or desire

dampened: less strong 

determined: not changing one’s idea or thoughts

ovation: applause by clapping

chanting: say or shout in a singing tone

cue: a signal

intimidating:  threatening effect.

glance: brief look.

appreciation: recognition

shiver: tremble

tension: emotional upset

utter: complete

gazing: look with intent

Question(s):

When you were young, had you a dream to become someone famous?

Is it important to stop something you love to do when family feels it is not important for your future?

Dream

( Intermediate level )

Jenny grew up in a small town in Iowa. She had lived with her grandparents from the age of four. Now, at 15 years old, Jenny wondered about her future. She dreamt of her future. Was she ever to get out of this little town?

The odds were against her. Her grandparents lived a modest farming life. As most farmers, they struggled from year to year. Barely making enough to pay the bills and having enough left, to tide them over, until the next planting season.

Her mother, Amy, was a struggling young and unwed teenager herself, when Jenny was born. Living in a small conservative community, she was met with much disapproval.

After Jenny was born, Amy left her small town to get a fresh start. Leaving the disappointment of her parents and community behind her. She knew her daughter would be just fine in her parents’ care.

One day, she hoped to return to reunite with Jenny. Hoping she understood why she had to leave her with her grandparents.

As for Jenny, she had her own struggles. Going to school took great effort. For most of her middle school and now in her high school years, Jenny was bullied.

Her grandparents did the best they could in raising her, but the extras they could not afford. They bought her clothes from the second hand store, in the center of town, or relied on donations from families, when their children had outgrown them.

Wearing second hand clothes never really bothered Jenny until she was made fun of one day in class in fifth grade. One of her classmates laughed and pointed at her saying that the dress used to be hers. She had recognized the stain on the collar and proceeded to say how that stain happened.

From that day forward, Jenny was the target for her classmates. Taking every chance they could to point out what she was wearing and whose clothes they might have belonged to.

Jenny would keep to herself, both at school and at home. She would spend hours in her small bedroom, just dreaming. Wishing things could be different.

Every Sunday, Jenny would help her grandfather with his daily farming chores. She helped tend to the animals, mend fencing and even helped in the fields.

She spent many hours with him and listened to his stories. Some were true and some, she knew, he made up just to see her reaction.

He asked her, one day, why she was spending so much time, alone and not out with friends. She, reluctantly, told him why. Jenny knew her grandparents worked very hard and were proud of what they have. She did not want to hurt his feelings but she told her story.

Her grandfather stood quiet for, what seemed to be forever, then looked down at her, smiled and said, “My dear Jenny, when people are unhappy ,with their own lives, they lash out at others. You showed a reaction, by visibly getting upset. This is what they look for. Somehow, they feel better about themselves when they make another miserable. Next time, try not to show them how upset or embarrassed you are. They will soon become bored and find the next person to intimidate.”

Jenny hugged her grandfather for understanding. He, always, knew the right words to say.

That evening, Jenny thought about her grandfather’s words. Wondering if it would make a difference. She knew how mean her classmates could be.

Summer vacation is coming soon. Another month to go and school would be out for three months. Jenny knew this last month would be long. She had to study for her finals and face her classmates.

Jenny realized this was the process of growing up. Finding yourself. Realizing what matters in life. She was not going to let others damper her dreams.

Since she had grown up around animals, she wanted to be a veterinarian. She needed to achieve the best grades she could.

With her grandparents not having a lot of money, she needed to get a scholarship to a university. This was her dream and she wanted to make it come true. No one would take away from her.

One thing she knew, be happy for what you have and not what you don’t have. Why should the opinions of others matter? Why do we need acceptance, from people, to be happy?

Jenny had loving grandparents, a warm, cozy home, and food to eat. It doesn’t matter what others think as long as you are happy and loved.

Written by: Angel

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Vocabulary:

wonder: curious

dream: images, thoughts

modest: one’s abilities, achievements, limited or small

conservative:  traditional values

disapproval: unfavorable opinion

struggle: restraint

effort: attempt

bully: a person who harms or intimidates those who are vulnerable

second-hand: already been owned or used

target: aim of an attack

chores: a routine task or job

reluctant: hesitant

miserable: unhappy or uncomfortable

embarrassed: shame

intimidate: to make someone feel timid or fearful using words or actions

damper: influencing in a negative way

disappointment: sadness over an action

Question ( s ):

Have you ever been bullied or bullied another?

Do you think bullying is a real concern?

What advise would you give someone if they told you they were being bullied?

Grandma Lucy

( Intermediate level )

After 47 years of marriage, Lucy found herself, looking out at the pier, alone. Her husband, Bill, had just passed away the month before.

He had struggled with his health for many years. Finally, his body was too tired to fight any longer.

She remembered his last words to her, as he lay in the hospital bed with his life leaving his body, “Be happy, my love, for I will be, forever, with you.” He always had a poetic way with his words.

After his passing, Lucy found herself not wanting to eat nor get dressed. Her life companion was gone. Her home felt empty. She felt empty.

They had two wonderful sons together. One was a physician in New York and the other was a software engineer in Texas. Each begged her to come live with them, after Bill had passed, but she refused.

She did not want to leave the house that Bill had built for them. She knew she would not be happy in a city. Cities were too busy and too noisy.

She loved hearing the birds sing in the morning. The breeze rustle through the trees and the frogs croaking. The quiet and simple life was what she wanted.

She had wonderful neighbors who would check on her often. Sometimes, having a casserole, saying they had extras. She knew they were making sure she was eating.

Most of the children in the community called her Grandma Lucy. They, too, would knock on her door and have wild flowers in hand, as a gift, for her.

She would head into town, once a month, to grocery shop while her husband fished. She would spend a short time at the park, before she shopped, watching the children play. Sometimes having a few sweets in her pocket to give to the children.

Lucy knew she had to be strong if she was to keep the house and stay alone. She needed to get back to normalcy. Somehow, she needed to find the courage. Each night Lucy would say to herself , “Tomorrow will be the day.”

The day had finally come. The day where she felt she had the strength to face life alone. Lucy woke up with the sun shining through the window. She looked out at the trees and noticed the leaves were beginning to change their colors.

Summer was coming to an end. Winter would be coming soon and things had to be done before the cold weather set in.

She got up and headed to the kitchen. Put the coffee on to brew and headed to the shower. By the time she was done with her shower the coffee was done.

She poured a cup of coffee and walked slowly outside. She found herself walking towards the pier. She had so many memories there.

She remembered watching her husband fish. He was always proud of every fish he caught. No matter how big or how small, he would tell a story of his struggle to land the fish.

She paused, for a moment, and looked out at the sunrise. What a magnificent view. She inhaled and sighed.

She remembered how Bill loved to wake her up and drag her outside to watch the sunrise. He would say, “Today will be a wonderful day!”

As she watched the sun rise higher, kissing the sky, she felt the warmth of the sun touch her cheek. She put her hand to her cheek and she whispered, “Oh Bill. I knew you will always be here with me. Thank you for loving me. I will be ok. I love you.”

She turned and headed back down the pier to her home. Feeling a calmness now, she was ready to start the next chapter in her life. She knew, now, she had found the courage.

She dressed, put on a sweater and put a few sweets in her pocket and headed to town to buy a few groceries.

Written by: Angel

If you appreciate what I do:

https://ko-fi.com/morningangel84721345

Follow me on:

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Vocabulary:

pier: a platform leading out from the shore into a body of water

passed away: polite expression for die

physician: doctor

casserole: oven baked, all in one meal, usually containing meat, vegetables and potatoes.

community: group of people living in the same place

normalcy: being normal

courage: the ability to do something that scares or upsets you

brew: make coffee with hot water.

whisper: speak very softly

calmness: feeling calm, no worries or problems

Question( s ):

How do you feel about Lucy’s choice to stay and not move in with her son(s)?

Would you be able to find courage?

Sarah’s Story

( Intermediate level )

As Sarah lay in her bed, in the dark of night, listening to the clock on the wall she wondered why she was such a failure. Her heart was in the right place, just her choices were not always the best.

She had one failed marriage and, now, is unhappy with her current husband. You see, he was a wonderful man, in the beginning. Always there for her. Sharing the same interests and doing things together.

As the years went by, his drinking became incessive. Starting early in the morning until he passed out at the end of the day. This was, usually, around four or five in the evening . Sarah usually tried to avoid him during the day so the arguments wouldn’t begin.

She thought many times that she was the cause of his drinking. He used to tell her so. He never laid his hands on her but the emotional abuse was real.

Her friends would ask her why she was with such a man. They would tell her she deserved better. She knew if she left him he would surely die. He would drink himself to death. This is why she felt she had to stay.

Many times she would try to talk with him, regarding his drinking. He would just nod his head and tune out. Agreeing with her just to shut her up.

Now, as she lay listening to the clock she felt she could not continue on. Can she make it on her own? Can she move on without guilt? Her days were consumed with misery . Her work was suffering. Something had to change with her situation and it was only her who could make this change.

She saved as much money as she could in the course of the following months. It took about nine months and she, finally, felt she had enough to get away and have a new start.

Sarah kept swaying with her decision, until the very last minute. Should she go or should she stay? She knew if she stayed nothing would change.

While her husband lay passed out on the sofa, Sarah quietly packed one simple suitcase with the barest of necessities to get her by. She quietly took off her wedding ring and laid it on the table.

She chose not to say good-bye but to leave. No arguments or drama. She took one last look at him on the sofa and walked out the door, closing it as softly as she could.

Sarah has not looked back since that day and has made a secluded life for herself. She is content and now has to heal from years of emotional abuse.

She now can lay in bed at night, listening to the clock and her thoughts can wander to what new and exciting things tomorrow will bring.

Written by: Angel

It is never too late to turn the page and start the next chapter in your life.

If you appreciate what I do:

https://ko-fi.com/morningangel8472134

Follow me on:

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Twitter: AngelOfTheMorn5

Vocabulary :

Incessive: intense , a lot

arguments: opposite views, usually in heated discussion

emotional abuse: a way to control another person by using emotions to criticize, embarrass, shame, blame, or otherwise manipulate another person.

guilt: feeling of doing something wrong

consumed: used up

misery: feeling discomfort of mind or body

decision: making a choice, deciding something

secluded: private, quiet

Question(s):

If you were Sarah, what would you have done differently?