A Girl Named Willow Krimble

A Girl Named Willow Krimble
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Published Date:31-07-2017
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A Girl Named Willow Krimble WRITTEN BY GIUSEPPE BIANCO All text and images © Giuseppe Bianco. All rights reserved. No portions of this novel may be reproduced without per- mission by the author. A Girl Named Willow Krimble has been registered with the United States Copyright Office Within The Library Of Congress 1 Willow Krimble could not remember the last time she was so nervous. Her heart was racing at, what seemed to be, a thousand beats per minute. Beads of sweat rolled down her freckled forehead, as most of the cafe- teria looked on in anticipation at, what they hoped would be, the first fight of the school year. “It was an accident,” muttered Willow. “It just slipped out of my hand.” “I just had my hair done yesterday and … well, look at it” Shayla Stergus shouted. “Not that I’d expect you to understand, with that shaggy mop on your head” Davis Sweany took hold of his girlfriend’s arm and gently tugged her one step back towards him. “Calm down, Shayla. I’m sure she didn’t do it on pur- pose.” “So what She’s still a moron I’m not gonna give her special treatment just because of her … her—” 1 “—Stupid handicap” Snella Burinbine interjected. Snella was Shayla’s closest friend, if you could call what they had a friendship. Snella followed Shayla every- where since the sixth grade. She simply latched onto the girl whom she felt would be the most popular. She was right. Here they were now, in eighth grade, and there was not a girl in Ginkelman Middle School who didn’t want to be Shayla Stergus, or at least as beautiful as her. Most of the girls wished they had Shayla’s long, glisten- ing, jet-black hair and perfect smile — not that she smiled often. “That’s right” Shayla continued to shout. “I’m sup- posed to feel sorry for her because she was born with one leg? Well, you know what…” the crowd of curious students seemed to be growing larger now, at least to Willow who was looking around anxiously, “…maybe I’ll just take that fake leg of hers and shove it—” “Try it, and you’ll be the only eighth-grader wearing dentures,” Razzel Fiora interrupted, removing her glasses, clenching both fists. Razzel was Willow’s dear- est friend since they met in the park when they were both three years old. Razzel was always very protective of Willow. Her feistiness kept most students, who 2 would ordinarily poke fun of Willow’s physical condi- tion, at bay. “What’s all this hullabaloo” Miss Protts, head of the English Department, barked. “Need I remind you all, the penalty for fighting is instant suspension that goes on your permanent record?” “There’s no problem here, Miss Protts…” replied Davis, “…just a misunderstanding. It’s all straightened out now.” He began pulling Shayla away, at last, but her eyes never left Willow’s while she was being dragged from her nemesis. There was more than anger searing from Shayla’s pupils; there seemed to be re- sentment in her visage. The fifth-period bell rang out and everyone, now re- alizing there was not going to be a fight, grabbed their bags and began shuffling out of the cafeteria. “You know, Will,” said Razzel, “maybe next time we’re sitting behind that dark-haired Barbie doll, you shouldn’t play with your food?” “Me?” replied Willow. “You’re the one who wanted to see how far a hot dog could fly from the rubber-band on my retainer.” 3 “Yeah, but I didn’t think you would actually be gross enough to take it out of your mouth to find out,” re- plied Razzel with a chuckle. “Ah, that witch deserved it. Ever since we started middle school last year, she’s acted like she owns this place. What about when we—” “Let’s just get to Music class,” said Willow. “Four more periods and we get to start our weekend.” “Amen, sister” Razzel flung her bag over her left shoulder and threw her free arm around her best friend as they began to walk out of the cafeteria, lagging be- hind the diminishing crowd. “Amen” 4 Unlike most 13-year-olds, Willow always set her alarm to go off at 6:30am on Saturdays. She loved her week- ends. No school, no homework and, best of all, no stressful snobs. She had already been awake for 20 minutes when her alarm rang out. She switched it off, sat up in her bed and attached her prosthetic left leg at the knee. She then grabbed a framed photo from her nightstand, kissed it and placed it back in its proper place. Next she grabbed a colorful bracelet, made from tiny painted seashells, off of her nightstand, and placed it around her wrist. It looked old and worn where the paint had begun to peel off certain parts of the shells, but Willow never went anywhere without it. She made her way to the bathroom. It was always free for her on Saturday mornings. Her older brother, Wyatt, usually slept until at least 10am, claiming the stress and work of high school took its toll on his 15- year-old body. 5 Willow gazed into the mirror and wasn’t too satisfied with what she saw; she hated her long, bushy, almond- colored hair and wished it were straight and blonde; she hated her pale complexion, speckled with freckles and, most of all, she hated having to wear a retainer. At least the braces she had to endure for over two years were gone. That was a start. After putting on a sweatshirt, blue jeans and her red canvas sneakers, Willow wrapped a kerchief around her head. This was routine for her. If it wasn’t a ker- chief, it was a hair-band, a ponytail wrapped in a scrunchie, a wool cap, or hair clips. She always hated sticky hair products like gel and mousse and preferred to tame her mane with accessories. Willow ran down the stairs and into the kitchen to make breakfast for her family. Second only to reading, cooking was Willow’s favorite pastime. After eating her own breakfast and leaving a stack of banana pancakes and maple sausages for her family on the counter, she grabbed her latest book, The Journey To Brambosa, and stepped outside into her backyard. She sat on her bench-swing and began on Chapter 7: The Crystal Path. 6 This was her weekend routine before beginning her chores, at least until the weather became too cold, where she would read on her bed. She much preferred to read outside since Wyatt loved to blast the TV every minute he was home. Willow loved getting lost in the fictional realms of her books. She often daydreamed about what it might be like if she was the heroine of a novel. She certainly did not hate her real life. Her mother was a bit over- protective, since Willow and her brother lost their fa- ther, but she showed her children a lot of affection. Wyatt always kept very busy with basketball and video games, but was always there for his sister if she needed him. He never worried about her welfare at school; she was in good hands with Razzel, who was a lot tougher than most boys in Wyatt’s high school. After about two hours of reading, Willow could hear voices emanating from her kitchen a few yards away. “These pancakes are freakin’ awesome,” Wyatt said to his mother, his mouth full, spitting out bits of pan- cake. Mr. and Mrs. Krimble had produced two children who balanced one another: Willow loved to cook, Wyatt 7 loved to eat, although you would never know it from his slender, athletic build. Mrs. Krimble often joked about Wyatt’s eating habits: “If he ever gives up sports, he’ll blow up like a balloon, the way he packs it in.” Willow pondered going inside to bid her family “good-morning”, but she couldn’t tear herself away from her book; she just had to finish the chapter she was in the middle of. Just as her eyes were scanning the final paragraph, Willow heard her neighbor, Carlo Sprunco, and his dog, Luka, making their way out of their back door. Willow loved Luka. He was a three-year-old beagle and the friendliest dog she had ever met. Willow had begged her mother to get a dog, but Mrs. Krimble claimed she was allergic. Willow was never certain if this was true because her mother only seemed to be allergic when- ever Willow asked her for a dog. Nevertheless, the an- swer was always an emphatic, “No.” “Gooda morna, Weelah,” Carlo Sprunco greeted his young neighbor, waving with one hand, trying to hold his bathrobe closed with the other. He always butch- ered Willow’s name with his heavy Italian accent, but Willow didn’t mind. 8 She closed her book and made her way over to the fence where Luka was waiting to be petted. “Good morning, Mr. Sprunco,” she said, reaching over the short metal fence to pet Luka, who was now standing on his hind legs, panting with excitement. “That doga make me crazy with all the howla. You wanna buy? I sell cheap.” Willow chuckled. “I wish I could, but you know my mom’s allergic. Maybe someday when I get my own place.” “Oh, I no waita that long,” replied Mr. Sprunco. “This doga make me crazy now.” He turned around and walked back into his home, leaving Luka to enjoy the affection he was receiving from his favorite neighbor. “He would never sell you, would he, boy?” said Wil- low, her tone reminiscent of an adult addressing a one- year-old child. Luka responded by licking Willow’s hand. “He would miss your howling if you ever—” Willow was suddenly interrupted by the sound of shattering glass, immediately followed by a loud thud. Luka instantly ran back inside through the doggy-door. 9 All Willow could hear was non-stop barking. She paused for a moment and without even thinking, never letting her prosthetic leg slow her down, she instinc- tively climbed over the steel fence. She began knocking on her neighbor’s back door, but there was no answer. “Mr. Sprunco Willow called out. “Are you okay?” No answer. Willow began to panic. She looked over to her yard and squinted her eyes to try to see through her kitchen window. She could barely make out her mother and brother at the kitchen counter, still enjoying their break- fast. Should she go back and ask them for help? Was she overreacting? Maybe everything was fine. Sud- denly, Luka ran back outside through the doggy door and straight through Willow’s legs, almost bowling her over. She turned around to look at him as he began to howl. Something must be wrong. She decided to try the back door. It was unlocked. She entered cautiously as Luka followed behind, howl- ing incessantly. “Mr. Sprunco … it’s Willow … everything okay? I heard some noise and—” 10 Willow broke off as she peered into her neighbor’s living room, her eyes meeting a horrific sight. She ran over to the limp body lying on the rug to find Carlo Sprunco clenching his right fist against his chest, un- conscious alongside shattered glass from the large vase he toppled over on his way down. Willow quickly knelt by her neighbor’s side. She grabbed his hand, prying it from his chest. “Mr. Sprunco Can you hear me?” He didn’t answer. Willow was horrorstricken and she couldn’t think straight over Luka’s relentless whimpers. “Oh God” she muttered. She suddenly found herself trying to recall last year’s CPR session from gym class. It was only for one day, so she was far from an expert, but she had to try something. If she ran to get help, it would just waste time and the one thing she did re- member for sure about her CPR class was that time is of the essence. If Mr. Sprunco was not getting oxygen to his brain, it could be fatal in a matter of seconds. Clasping her neighbor’s hand, Willow placed her ear against his mouth. He wasn’t breathing. Luka was still howling, but Willow knew she needed to calm down in order to block out any distractions surrounding her. 11 She suddenly found herself longing for her neigh- bor’s recovery. She wanted to see him next Saturday morning walk outside his back door while she was reading her latest book; wanted to hear him butcher her name once again. Without wasting another second, Willow released her neighbor’s hand and tried her hardest to recall her CPR class. She began muttering to herself, “Okay … tilt the head back … pinch both nostrils … now two quick breathes into the victim’s mouth. You can do this ... come on now … alright … ready … here we go…” With Luka howling, and her heart racing, Willow slowly leaned toward her neighbor’s mouth to adminis- ter the first two breaths. Seconds away from her lips touching the limp body, Willow received yet another jolt as Mr. Sprunco suddenly began coughing directly into her face. Willow jerked back as her neighbor continued to cough more rapidly. She watched in amazement as he opened his eyes and began sitting up. Becoming aware of his surroundings, Carlo Sprunco noticed the shattered glass around him as he leaned 12 onto his sofa for support. He made it to his feet fairly quickly. “Ma, che cosa ... cosa è successo? Willow did not understand Italian, but it was begin- ning to sink in that her neighbor was beginning to re- cover from whatever had deemed him lifeless only moments earlier. She finally snapped out of her con- fused state and suddenly threw her arms around him. “Oh, Mr. Sprunco, I was so worried I heard a loud crash and I didn’t know what to do, so I came in through the back door. Luka was barking like crazy and I figured if I ran to get help, it may be too late and—” “No worria, Weelah. “ Mr. Sprunco interrupted Wil- low’s rant. “I okay.” Grabbing Willow by her shoulders, he continued to reassure her. “Looka me … No probla,” he said now pounding his chest with his right arm. He suddenly looked confused and began rubbing his chest with his right hand. “Oh no Are you okay, Mr. Sprunco? Are you having chest pain? Do you need to sit?” “No, no. I feela good, you know? My chesta no hurt no more. Ma, before, it hurta lot. Madonna, it hurta lot.” 13 Motioning for her neighbor to sit on the sofa, Willow was as confused as when she first heard the initial crash. “Maybe I should call an ambulance,” she suggested. “Ma, che amboolants? I fine. No worria. You go now. I rest.” Mr. Sprunco sprawled out onto his sofa. “But I think you may have had a heart att—” “No, you go. If I needa, I call,” Mr. Sprunco insisted. “And no tella you momma, si? I no want she worria for me.” Willow tried to run everything back in her mind as she walked around the front of her neighbor’s house and back into her own yard. How could someone be that lifeless one moment and as alert as ever the next? It just didn’t make any sense. Willow reminded herself that she was not a doctor and was far from an expert on medical conditions. Maybe Mr. Sprunco just fainted. Nevertheless, she decided to honor her neighbor’s re- quest not to alarm her family as she walked through her back door. 14 “Hey, there’s my master chef,” Wyatt greeted his sis- ter, with a half eaten sausage dangling from his fork. “Bananas in the batter? Nice touch, Squirt.” Distracted, Willow did not acknowledge her brother’s praise. “Squirt?” “Huh? Oh yeah, bananas. I’m glad you enjoyed them, Wyatt.” Her mother noticed her hesitation. Samantha Krimble always knew when one of her children was hiding something. “Everything alright, Willow?” “What? Oh, yeah, fine. I was just thinking about my book and how good it is.” “Well, where is it?” asked Mrs. Krimble. In all of the confusion, Willow had forgotten to re- trieve her book. “I left it outside. I’m going back out to read in a min- ute. I just came in to say ‘good morning.’” “Well, don’t be too much longer. Remember, we’re going to visit Grandma this morning. I promised her we’d take her grocery shopping and you know how much she loves your company.” 15 Samantha Krimble was always very busy between her shifts as a nurse at Stratlin Medical, her housework and checking on her 88-year-old mother, who insisted on living on her own, claiming she did not need any- one’s help. Nevertheless, the widow tried her best to spend time with her children, even if it was as non- eventful as grocery shopping. “You should come too,” she said to Wyatt. “Huh?” Wyatt pretended not to hear. “It wouldn’t kill you to spend some time with your grandmother,” Mrs. Krimble lectured. “Sounds great, Mom, but I’ve got basketball practice today,” replied Wyatt, shoving a hunk of pancake into his mouth. “Man, and I really wanted to compare the different colored toilet paper.” His mother shot him a reproachful look. “I’ll be there, Mom,” said Willow. “I haven’t seen Grams in two weeks.” “Thank you, Willow. Nice to see that someone has their priorities in order around here.” Mrs. Krimble raised her eyebrows at her son. “Basketball practice” Wyatt defended himself. “I can’t miss it. Coach says we need to put the extra time 16 in on the weekend if we want to beat Grant High next week. They kicked our ass—uh … assets last time and it was really embarrassing.” “Nice save,” snickered Willow. “Yes, very nice,” added Mrs. Krimble, her statement punctuated by a light slap on the back of her son’s head. Since Mrs. Krimble hated foul language and would not allow it in her home, Wyatt made up his own term that he could use whenever he was angry, shocked or even excited… “Chiklets McFarkus” he said, rubbing the back of his head. Mrs. Krimble knew what her son really meant, but she could not truly reprimand him since, technically, it wasn’t foul language; it was Wyatt-language. “See if ice packs are on sale while you’re shopping,” Wyatt added, giving his head one final brush. Mrs. Krimble rolled her eyes. “Let me just grab my book and I’ll be back to help you clean up,” said Willow. “No way,” replied Mrs. Krimble, pointing toward Wyatt. “This one is long overdue to clean up the dishes. Let him take care of it.” 17 “Well, if you insist,” replied Willow, smirking, shrug- ging her shoulders at her older brother. Wyatt stared at the two women of the house in de- feat. “Man … can’t even have breakfast without having to work for it.” With a sigh he plunged his fork into the last sausage link on the plate and muttered, once again, “Chiklets McFarkus” Willow and her mother arrived at her Grandma Trisha’s house at about 10:30am. It was a big house, a mere twelve minutes away by car. It was the house that Wil- low’s mother grew up in. Every time she returned she had another reminiscent story about how she and her older sister, Klisa, would get into trouble on some mis- adventure. Willow loved listening to these stories about her mother’s childhood, while Wyatt usually zoned out until the end of each tale where he would often retort with, “Ha That’s good stuff, Mom. Those were the days, huh?” Mrs. Krimble never fell for the feigning interest in her stories, but she never called Wyatt on it; she knew there would be plenty of other times where she would need to reprimand her teenage son for not listening. She’d much rather rebuke him when he said things like, 18 “…but you never told me to take out the garbage; how was I supposed to know? I’m not a mind-reader...” Willow loved visiting with her grandmother. She would try to see her at least once a month. Before Grandpa Theo passed away, he would drive himself and Grandma Trisha to see Willow and Wyatt as often as once a week. Since Grandma Trisha could not drive, due to her arthritis, Willow began taking the bus to visit her after her grandfather’s passing, two years ago. From the bus stop, Willow would walk for almost 20 minutes to have tea with her grandmother and discuss whatever was interesting in their lives at the moment. Sometimes, she would bring Razzel along. Grandma Trisha often said that Razzel’s spunk reminded her of herself when she was a young girl. Willow and her mother made their way up the stone walkway to the large two-story colonial home designed by Grandpa Theo. Brushing their shoulders against the overgrown hedges, they walked up to the front porch where Willow used to play checkers with her grandfa- ther. Before Mrs. Krimble could reach the doorbell, the front door swung open. “Where is she? Where’s my favorite girl?” 19

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