When Words Lost Meaning, Rich Paschall
If there was anything Harry did not need, it was more disappointment. He’d had a lifetime of disappointments, but it seemed he was in for more. Mistreated and mislabeled, he was now also abandoned. Unintentionally abandoned, but for Harry, alone was alone.
Harry came into the world with great hope. His mother picked out the name of the most famous boy in the world for her new-born. She named him after the famous boy wizard, Harry Potter. She thought he looked a bit like the drawings of Harry on the book covers.
As he grew, little Harry had trouble learning. He never developed good reading skills. He baffled his mother, telling her the letters moved, and words did not make sense when put together. Eventually, his mother told him he was stupid, accused him of not trying. Just to confuse the issue, she followed that by telling him he was bright (which was true) and could read if he wanted to. Which was not true. The further behind he fell in school, the more labels he acquired. But no one gave him the right label: “Dyslexic.”
The lad withdrew. He began hiding in the last place anyone would look for him. The library.
Thus a boy who could not read, looked at books in the library and waited. Maybe someone would come and read to him. Someone who would explain the stories. It was awfully hard to find anybody to do this. Until he spotted Harold looking at the Harry Potter books. Little Harry decided right then and there that Harold was his friend.
Harold had been going to the library every Tuesday and Thursday to read books on engineering and machinery. One day, Harold wandered over to look at the books about which he’d heard so much. The Harry Potter series.
When Harry, the boy with the reading problem spied Harold, in the “fantasy aisle,” he instantly knew he’d found someone to read to him. Harry had withdrawn in recent months, so he began the relationship by staring at Harold.
The librarian’s assistant misinterpreted Harold’s attempts to send little Harry away. She thought Harry and Harold were together. So she opened the usually shuttered reading room, making it possible for Harold to read aloud to the boy.
Harold read to the boy that day and it turned into a regular Tuesday and Thursday affair.
Harry knew old Harold was not a great storyteller. He was obviously uncomfortable reading out loud. Nonetheless, little Harry kind of liked big Harold’s awkward attempts at narration. And Harry was learning.
Sometimes the boy would be emboldened to ask questions. Even though the boy with the little wizard face was not yet learning to read, he was building his vocabulary.
When Tuesday arrived and no Harold appeared at the library, Harry waited. His new friend never showed up. The boy roamed the lobby, then just stood there. It was a sad sight. Thursday brought the same scenario. When the little boy looked as if he was going to cry, the Librarian stepped in.
“What seems to be the problem, young man?” she asked Harry.
“He’s not here,” Harry said and tears rolled down his face.
“Shh. This is a library. Now, explain to me. Who is missing?”
Harry tried to explain, but was so upset had couldn’t. The librarian’s assistant rushed over to help. She finished telling Harry’s story for him. Harry remained disconsolate.
At last, the assistant suggested, “Maybe your friend is ill and can’t come. I’m sure he’d be here if he could be.” Of course, she had no idea how accurate she was.
“But he’s supposed to read to me,” Harry whimpered.
“I know,” the assistant said, “but he can’t come if he’s sick. You know how your mother makes you stay home if you’re not feeling well, right?”
The boy didn’t know. He mother ignored him when he was sick, figuring it was a ploy to stay home from school. The boy looked at the Librarian and her assistant, his face full of sadness and mistrust.
“I’m sure your friend will be back to read with you very soon.” She had no way of knowing when, or if, Harold would be back, but maybe little Harry would find her words soothing.
At this same moment, a doctor stood at the foot Harold’s bed in the hospital’s Intensive Care unit reading his chart. This Thursday, Harold could not read, talk, or explain anything to anyone.
Note: The next “Harold story” appears in 3 weeks.