The old man sighed upon what his deep blue eyes saw….
He remembered the days when he would laugh at the thought of a wheelchair fitted for him, he was only a boy back then.
He remembered the days when he could look into the mirror and see a handsome young man. He sighed again at seeing his wrinkled weather worn face and grey hair.
He remembered the days when he could run like anything. And everyone used to call him “the leopard boy”, he smiled at the memory, it was a pleasant one. Then he remembered the trips to the Doctors, and how they came to be more and more frequent. He remembered the mornings when it seemed that he was ready before the morning, now the morning seemed to be waiting for him.
He remembered the days of his own stubborn independence. But now, all these thoughts seemed like they were from centuries ago, or not even real, but a mere dream. It seemed like he was in a thick fog of misery. He then heard laughter. It was coming from outside. He hadn’t heard laughter for a long time. At first he felt like telling the person off for disturbing his peace and quiet, but then, he had a strange feeling. He tried to get up and stand, he fell back into his chair. But then the feeling came again, and so he tried again. This time, somehow, he was able to stand. Taking one step, he attempted to walk. He fell, but then got back up and tried again, he took two steps, then three then four, and now he stood at the door. He opened it. He looked out at the sun, and out at the world. The day seemed to be screaming at him to come out. He did not hesitate. He walked out the door, he detected where the sound of laughter was coming from; behind the large rose bush. He stumbled over to the bush and looked behind it. To his surprise he found three little boys behind there eating juicy red apples to their hearts delight. It didn’t take long for the boys to realise they weren’t alone. Their happy faces turned to a guilty childish look.
“Please, sir, don’t tell on us!” Said the youngest of the three.
“Tell on you? For what?” Laughed the old man, as if it weren’t obvious.
“Tell on us to Teacher that we’ve been eating apples instead of doing school.” Said the eldest.
“Ohh, I wouldn’t do that!” Said the old man seriously, “why wreck ones fun?” He added with a laugh.
The three faces smiled cheekily.
“So, can I have an apple?” The old man asked.
Three hands held out apples, and the old man was about to take them when they all heard a voice calling them from behind.
“Edward, Charles, Tom? Where are you, you sneaky little no good pupils!” The voice was impatient.
Charles, the chubby boy went red and in a low voice whispered to the others, “It’s teacher! Will she find us?”
But it was too late, for a lady came round the corner and found the boys.
“Well! Boys you-” She paused, shocked to see the old man there too. “Well! Sir, I did, I mean I did not mean to-”
The old man chuckled at the respect given from the lady.
“Please sir, accept my highest apologies from these, these”, the boys giggled at seeing their teacher so flustered, “Rascals, eating from your own apple tree without consent from you-”
“May I rudely interrupt with a question here, Madam?” The old man politely asked.
The teacher’s cheeks went even redder now.
“Yes, why of cause sir, forgive me for babbling.”
“What, may I ask, are apples for?” The old man gave a sideway wink to the boys.
“Why for eating, sir.”
“Then why shouldn’t these boys be eating them?”
The teacher’s shoulders let loose of their upright position, and she smiled.
“I’m sorry sir of my behaviour, you are quite right there.” she paused then added, “My name is Miss Eliza.”
“Should I then take the liberty to ask a favour of you, Miss Eliza?” The old man said, noticing the young lady’s deep green eyes.
“I should say you are entitled to, sir.” Her eyes gleamed curiously.
“Would you sit down here with us, and enjoy a sunny morning tea picnic of delicious red apples?”
“I would be charmed to, sir.”
“Pray, do not call me sir.”
“What then would you like me to call you?”
The old man, already knowing what to say, paused wisely.
“Call me, Leopard boy, if you please.”