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WISHES (Flying)

Once upon a time, many years ago, when I was a little boy living in an orphanage in Jacksonville, Florida, I always wished that I could fly like a bird. It was very difficult for me to understand why I could not fly, ‘cause then I could go find my very own mother and father.

One day I ran away from the orphanage. I had laid in my bed all night long, thinking about jumping off the Main Street Bridge. The pain, loneliness and the never-ending mocking, and teasing, by my classmates, at Spring Park Elementary School, had become more than I could bear.

On my way to the bridge, I got lost and ended up at the front gate of the Jacksonville Zoo. After sneaking in through a back entrance I came upon a small, grassy park area. That is when I saw a little boy with braces on his legs, which could not walk or run. He was playing all by himself in a small sandbox. I went over to the boy and asked him if he had ever wanted to fly like a bird.

"No," said the little boy, “but I have wondered what it would be like to walk, run and play like other little boys and girls.”

"That is very sad. Do you think we could be friends?" I asked him.

"Sure. I really need a friend.”

We played together for hours. We made sandcastles and we made funny sounds with our mouths, sounds that made us laugh really, really hard.

When the little boy's father came with a wheelchair to pick up his son. I stood up, brushed myself off and ran over to the boy's father. I asked him to bend down so I could whisper something in his ear.

"That would be okay, I guess," said the man.

I ran over to my new friend and said, "You are my only friend, and I wish that there was something that I could do to make you walk and run like other little boys and girls. I can't, but there is one thing I can do for you."

I turned around and told my new friend to slide up onto my back. Then I started running across the grass as fast as I could. Faster and faster I ran, carrying the crippled little boy on my back. Harder and harder, I pushed across the park. Faster and faster, I made my legs travel, until they hurt. I ran in a never-ending circle around the boy's father and the old wheelchair.

Soon the wind silently whistled across our little faces, gliding past us as though we were both large eagles soaring above the highest mountains. The little boy began to yell and scream at the top of his voice. The boy's father began to cry as he watched his beautiful crippled son riding on my back, flapping his arms up and down in the wind, while all the time yelling and screaming, "I AM FLYING, DADDY! I AM FLYING!"

Later that night, cold, wet and hungry, I returned to the orphanage. My thoughts of suicide have vanished. It was a wonderful feeling to know that I now had a friend in the world. Someone who needed me, made me feel that I was worth something and that I might one day have a purpose in life.

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