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DOES THE DEVIL HAVE A HEART?
I sat in Miss Cherry’s third grade classroom shaking my leg. I had to go to the bathroom real bad like but I was just too afraid to raise my hand and ask. We kids from the orphanage had become to afraid to do almost anything on our own, much less make a decision like going to the bathroom or getting a drink of water without first asking permission. The matron’s yelling, screaming, cursing, hitting and kicking had taken a heavy toll on me; just as it had on the other children.
I sat at my desk watching the big white faced clock as it seemed to take forever to click from one black number to another. My stomach was beginning to cramp and the pain was almost more than I could bear; I knew I would never make it to the bell. If I were to wet on myself the entire class would laugh at me again, just like last time.
Suddenly, I jumped up from my desk and ran up to Miss Cherry.
“Miss Cherry, please let me go to the bathroom early. I can hardly wait anymore, I whispered loudly toward her ear.
She nodded her head giving me permission.
I turned and walked, as fast as I could, out the classroom door. Holding myself on the front of my pants, I ran toward the bathroom, the entire time thanking Jesus for allowing me to be brave enough to ask to go to the bathroom early.
After completing my task, I flushed the toilet and headed back to my classroom only to find Miss Cherry standing in the doorway. As I approached she raised her finger to her lips telling me to remain quiet. Slowly she knelt on one knee and asked, “Roger, why are you so afraid all the time?”
“I don’t know Miss Cherry. I just am.”
She smiled, reached out and placed her hand on the side of my face.
“Roger dear, one day you will leave that terrible orphanage and you will be able to give your heart to someone special, someone who will truly love you.”
“That ain’t true Miss Cherry.”
“Why would you say that, Roger?”
“’Cause Matron, Mother Winters and that judge with the big head told me that I ain’t got no heart.” “That’s not true Roger.”
"Yes Ma’am Miss Cherry. That’s what they said."
“Well, then. That’s just a big lie.”
“Mother Winters, she’s mean all the time but the judge he wouldn’t lie or he’d go to jail for telling bad things."
“You wait here, Roger.”
Miss Cherry stood up, turned and walked over to her desk, bent down and opened the bottom drawer. When she stood up, she held her hand behind her as if she were hiding something. She placed her finger to her lips reminding the class to remain quiet. When she returned to the hallway, she closed the classroom door and knelt down in front of me once again.
Pulling her hand from behind her back, she held a large valentine card toward me.
“Roger, this is my heart and I give it to you.”
Slowly, with shaking hand, I reached out for the card. Suddenly, she pulled it away from me.
“Ain’t you gonna let me have your heart Miss Cherry?”
“Roger, this card isn’t my heart. It is just a piece of paper, a piece of cardboard. Someone giving you their heart is a feeling. It is a special feeling that lives only inside of you and you only. Something, once given cannot be taken away by anyone."
Slowly she took the large Valentine and began pinning it to my shirt pocket.
“Roger Dean, I am giving you this Valentine so that everyone who sees it will know that someone has given you their heart. Tonight, when you take this Valentine off you will still be able to feel my heart inside of you. Okay?”
“Okay, Miss Cherry.”
I walked back into the classroom with a large smile on my face.
“I have a heart,” I told the entire class, as I sat down in my desk.
Several seconds later the bell rang. As the classroom cleared, I flattened out the large card as it had somewhat bent upwards as it caught on my desk when I sat down.
Walking down the hallway, I smiled and told several teachers “I have a heart and nobody can take it away.”
They just smiled and one of them reached out and patted me on the top of my head.
Standing at the front door of the school was Mrs. Drayer, the school principal.
“Look, Mrs. Drayer, I gotta heart and it’s big too.”
“You sure do Roger Dean,” she stated, as she bent down and kissed me on the cheek.
I ran and skipped across the baseball diamond heading back toward the orphanage gates. Just as I was about to enter, I saw a large frog in the middle of Spring Park Road. Not wanting him to get run over by a car, I looked for cars in both directions and then ran out into the roadway to pick it up.
“I gotta big heart,” I told the large frog.
I reached down and picked up the large toad. All at once it began to pee on my hand.
“Now you're gonna get a big wart thing,” said one of the boys who slept in the room with me.
“Why did he pee on me? I was just trying to save him from getting rund over."
“That’s ‘cause you scared him. They always pee like that when they get scared, ‘cause they afraid. They just little and they scared all the time of all the big wild mean things in the world.”
Carefully, I placed the frog in the azalea bush and then headed to my dormitory to do my chores. Halfway up the walkway I notice Matron, Mother Winters walking toward me.
“Hey Mother Winters, Ma’am. You were wrong. I gotta big heart and can’t anybody take it away. That’s what Miss Cherry told me.”
“Shut up you little bastard. You get up to your bedroom and change your clothes and do your work. You understand?” she screamed, as she reached out and ripped the large Valentine off my chest.
“Yes Ma’am, Mother Winters."
“What’s that? She said, as she pointed down to the front of my wet pants. “Did you piss your pants?”
“I’m sorry. Really I am, Mother Winters,”I mumbled, as I placed my finger in my mouth and looked toward the ground.