With the one small action of a girl, Chase’s entire life was changed forever. He realizes that he will never be the smartest, but that doesn’t me he can’t be successful. He has suffered through a lot of embarrassment, but who says he can’t make it through.
“Ugh!” Chase grunts almost breaking into tears. He stared at the book that had brought him so much grief.
“I just can’t do this!” He though the book on his bed and smashed his face into his pillow. He had been sitting on his bed trying to get through the first 3 chapters of Code Orange for the last 3 hours. He just couldn’t read the dang book. Why must it be so hard, he thought. Everyone else can do it, why can’t I. You see Chase is a freshman and although he tries his absolute hardest he just can’t seem to learn anything. He can’t read, he can’t spell, he can’t solve for that stupid variable that is so very important in algebra. And worst of all he had a horrible time making any friends. Chase is that boy in the back of the class that no one ever talks to because he’s just too dumb to have a conversation. It’s not like he’s a horrible person or anything, it’s just that he has no friends and it seems no one wants to be his friend.
“WHY DO I HAVE TO BE SO STUPID!?!?!?!” He screams into is pillow while tears flowed unstopping out of his eyes. He just wants to be like everyone else. He wants to laugh like them and read without having to sound out a seemingly easy word. If you would give any advice to Chase right now it would probably be to go ask his parents for help. But you see for Chase it’s not that easy. His parents are both Harvard graduates with doctorates. They don’t understand how hard it is to be horrible at everything relating to academics. They yell at him constantly: “Chase get your grades up.”, “Chase why do you have 4 D’s and a C. I thought we talked about this.”, “I’m so disappointed in you Chase.” These things haunt poor Chase at night. He tries his best. He studies as much as he can. He tries so hard to make his beloved parents happy, but apparently his best isn’t enough. All he wants to do right now is curl up in his bed and cry himself to sleep, but he can’t do that. Thinking about how happy it would make his parents for him to get a B on this next test, he picks up the book and continues to read the book that he can’t seem to understand.
The next day of school was as hard as any. He went to his locker, ignored the snickering kids and went to his least favorite class, Reading.
“Good morning Mrs. Skywalker.” Chase said to his teacher.
“Hello Chase.” She said back with a warm smile. She was pretty with her blond hair and welcoming personality. After grabbing the worksheet, he went to his desk and started working on it diligently. Hoping that maybe he would understand it, but just ending up staring at the words that looked like useless lines.
“Good morning class. Today we will start on page 35 in Code Orange. Would anyone like to volunteer to read first?” No one in the class raised their hand except Tyler. Chase cringed. He hated Tyler. Tyler was the leader of them. The popular kids, who made it their mission in life to ruin Chase. Mrs. Skywalker nodded at Tyler to start reading and Chase felt like he was going to explode. They always did this. In Reading class Mrs. Skywalker would call on one person to read and then it would go in order from then on. Tyler and his group would schedule ahead of time who would volunteer, so they would make sure that Chase had to read each day. Then once Chase would struggle to say each word that appeared on the page they would laugh and make fun of him. These kids had torched Chase since the 5th grade and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.
“Chase can you please start at the top of page 42?” The kind teacher asked, not knowing that that question would be the death of him. Chase took a deep breath before a word could escape from his lips. He could already feel the class looking at him, waiting for him to fail so they could laugh at the stupid kid. “Mitty. Took. Out. His. Scabs. And. Var-i-ffff-i-eeddd? Verified…… That. They. Were. Still. In. Tttthe. Zzz-zz-zzzz-ip. Lock. B-aaa-aa-g.” They all laughed at him. One kid even threw a crumpled up piece of paper at him. Embarrassment flooded his body like an ocean in a storm and he couldn’t seem to shake the crushing feeling in his heart.
The bell rang as he was about to start on the second sentence. He got up and ran out of the small room as fast as he could. Tears flooded his eyes as he raced into the boy’s bathroom. He couldn’t hold back his sobs for long and when they came he couldn’t stop them. Minutes later he heard footsteps and prayed to god that it wasn’t Tyler and his gang. He heard a small nock on the stall door along with a frail voice.
“Chase, are you okay?” the voice said. Chase froze. Was that May? May Lean? Was May Lean in the boy’s bathroom asking if Chase was okay? Chase couldn’t believe it and for a moment the thought he was dreaming until the voice spoke again and this time it was louder and… madder?
“Chase if you don’t come out of this stall right now I’m coming in.” Instead of replying he reluctantly opened the stall, a little afraid to come out.
“Why do you let them do that to you Chase?” She asked.
“I know how smart you are. I’ve seen what you can do on a computer. You code faster than anyone and you breathe C++. I know you’re not some juvenile delinquent like everyone says you are.” Chase was awestruck. He didn’t know what to say. She was right though, he could code and he knew computers like the back of his hand. He had been working on an online game for a while, but that didn’t mean he was smart in any way. Chase stared at her. May was your regular run of the mill good girl. She had straight A’s, was involved in almost everything, and was the head cheerleader. Why would someone like her be talking to him?
“I think you might have dyslexia and if you’ll let me help you I think you could be one of the smartest kids in school.” She spoke with conviction, like she actually believed the he, Chase Mathew, could actually be anything other than a reject. Chase didn’t believe what she was saying but deep down he wanted it to be true.
“With hard work and dedication you could be great. Are you in?” Chase only nodded unable to say anything else.
“Well okay then. During study hall I’m going to go and talk to Mrs. Skywalker. Hopefully then we can get you some help.” He smiled and nodded, not knowing what else to say. May gave a smile of success and was about to walk out of the bathroom when Chase called out to her.
“What’s Dyslexia?” She laughed
“It’s when you can’t read or learn as fast as other people. It’s like a light bulb in your brain is out, and the only way to turn it back on is to hear something more than a few times. So if you see the word the 3 times you won’t remember it, but if someone else sees the word 3 times they will. It might take you 6 to 10 times seeing the word to remember how to say it and what it is.”
“How do you know so much about it?” He asked with curiosity. He had assumed she had learned about it from some book with big words.
“I have it.” She said and then was out of the boy’s bathroom. The last words she said stayed with him throughout the day. If May herself had it… that must mean there’s hope for me, He thought. This gave Chase hope and even though kids continued to laugh and talk about him, Chase couldn’t hear them.
That night when he got home he was exhausted. He had one to many worksheets to do and another 3 chapters to read in Code Orange. He went straight into his room and dove right into his work. Tonight he felt like something had changed in him. He felt that he might actually be able to finish his homework tonight. Maybe he would even have time to finish the game he was working on. He was almost done and he couldn’t wait to show it to his mom and dad. He started on his worksheet first, but once again he only saw lines on a blank sheet of paper. The words seem to move off the page and overlap with one another. A ping of disappointment hit him, but he wasn’t ready to give up. He moved to his math homework, but still the numbers were no match for his slow brain. He finally gave up and went to go watch TV. Maybe even lie to his parents about his homework being done. Chase started done the hall, but suddenly his fathers excited voice caught his attention. “Oh My God I can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner. This explains everything! So what is your plan?” Chase settled on the conclusion that he was talking to some coworker and continued on his path to the TV. An hour or so later his dad was finally off the phone. He ran out of his study like a wildman and started talking to his mom in some adult langue that Chase didn’t understand. He only heard pieces of their conversation, but he really didn’t care much. He was just focused on what was going on in How It Works.
“Hey Chase.” His dad called to him.
“We think we know why you have such a hard time learning. There’s this thing called dyslexia which is…”
“I know what it is.” Chase felt smart knowing what it meant. “Some girl explained it to me in reading.”
“Oh, well tomorrow their going to pull you out of class and test you to see if you have it.”
“Okay” He said shrugging it off like it’s no big deal, but in reality he was bouncing off the walls.
The next day in school went by too fast for Chase. He walked in with a smile on his face and his head held high.
“Hey Chase!” May yelled from the other end of the hall. He smiled and waved to her telling himself that later he had to thank her for everything she’s done for him. That day in reading was one of the best days he had ever had. Just before he had the chance to read there was a beep for the loud speaker and the secretary called him down to the office. All the kids “ohed” him, but at that moment he didn’t care. He gave a quick smile to May and was out that dreaded room and in the main office in no time. The secretary took him into the counselor’s office and he spent the day reading small pieces of text, writing letters, and looking a shapes. Chase had no idea what any of this had to do with reading, but Chase knew to trust the counselor.
He went home as happy as he could be and told his parents about his wonderful day. He told them about the smiles he exchanged with May and all the shapes he saw and how nice the counselor was. His parents were just as happy as Chase was. Their only son was blossoming and they could not contain their excitement.
That night chase retreated into his room and sat on his bed. His was ready to start on his homework when he realized he had none since he missed almost the whole day. He went to his computer desk and dove into his programming. He was so close to being done and he couldn’t wait to share it with his parents. Chase was putting on the final details to his 6-month project when he got an email. It was from the school counselor and he read that email faster than he had ever read anything in his whole life. He finished reading and burst into tears. They weren’t tears of sadness; they weren’t tears of grief or loss. They were tears of relief. This poor boy had lived his life thinking that he was absolutely stupid. He had lived in the fear that his brain didn’t work. He thought all his life that if he just tried a little harder, worked a little longer, studied a few more hours, that he would be able to be like all of his peers. Now someone was telling him that it wasn’t his fault; that the thing he was most embarrassed about was something he could change. His father ran into the room worried that something had happened.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. The only thing Chase could do was point at the screen. His father read the letter and hugged him. Feeling just as relied as Chase did.
Over the next 6 months Chase had made 4 new friends, May, Jack, Olivia, and Peter. He had managed to get all his grades up to a B and was now learning the Trumpet. He found that reading sheet music had been a lot easier than reading and had willingly been sucked into the world of marching band with help from May, a fellow flute player. Chase also had the courage to show his game to his parents. They loved it, of course and has enrolled him in several computer classes immediately.
Chase wasn’t and never will be the sharpest tool in the shed, but with enough determination and a little bit of hope, he found a life he was happy to be leading. Chase was able to escape his embarrassing past and move on to better things. So be like Chase and remember that although you may be one thing doesn’t mean that you can’t change and become another.