I walk downstairs to find my dad decorating for Thanksgiving. We smile at each other. "Do you need any help, Dad?"
“Nope. Ellie here has been a wonderful help. “ I look over at her. Every time I look over at her, her beauty takes my breath away. Today she's wearing a turkey dress and her blue hair piled atop of her head.
“Will Bob be joining the festivities?” Eleanor asks.
My dad winks at me. “I don't know. It depends on how I'm feeling which I'm starting to feel much stronger. “
"Whoa easy there, tiger. You're not out of the woods yet. We still have a few more doctor's appointments to go, remember ?" My dad reminds me.
I sigh. How could I forget? It isn't that I won't miss Bob because I will, but I guess I want to be normal.
"Oh.. I have something for you. I think you've gone long enough without one," Eleanor puts a phone box on the table in front of me. "I think you need one in case of emergencies. Don't worry, your dad agreed to it?"
My dad nods his confirmation as I open the phone. "It's nothing fancy, but it also has an alert on there in case you're ever in danger again."
I hug Eleanor and thank her before going up to my room to set up the phone. Bits and pieces of my dad and Eleanor's conversation catch my attention. "You didn't tell her, did you?"
"Tell her what exactly, Mr. Harper? Oh yeah, I know you were just locked in a closet by Moira but now your insane mother is stalking you? I mean, I don't like hiding this one bit from her, Mr. Harper but the fact is that's she been too distracted to notice anything."
"Shh... Keep your voice down, will ya?"
I march downstairs. “My mom is doing what now?” I ask. My dad and Eleanor spin around fast. “I heard everything," I answer before he could ask.
"Leigh... Honey, we were going to tell you...
“Yeah? When? And you? How could hide something like that from me? I don't want to hear you were protecting me!”
“But I was!”
Before I realize what I'm doing, I run out of the house with Bob. The leaves are falling and some are already on the ground, which makes it a bit harder to walk with a cane. "Sorry," I mumble a few times to Bob,
Once it starts to get dark, we find a tree to sit under. "I don't like out here. It's creepy," Bob complains.
“Shh,” I put my finger to my lips as I listen to the leaves crunching. “I'm pretty sure we were followed out here,” I whisper to him.
"Still talking to that cane, I see?" A familiar voice speaks in the distance. I can hear their footsteps getting closer and closer and soon before I know it, they have their hand on my arm. "Mom?" My voice comes out like a squeak.
"You're coming with me. I think it's about time your dad learns a lesson.. don't you think so, Leigh?"
Before I could stop it, Mom was tying me up to a tree. "Mom, what are you doing?" I start to panic.
“Teaching you a lesson. I give you life and repay me by being a spoiled brat.” Mom spits out. A tiger roars. It's coming closer and closer to me. “Good luck surviving,” Mom calls over her shoulder and winks.
The tiger is now within inches of my face. The only I know to do is remain calm and not look the tiger in the eyes.
While I'm trying my best to survive, Bob unties me and distracts the tiger. "Go!" Bob mouths to me. I don't hesitate to get out of there.
I run inside the house right as my dad and Eleanor are coming out. "I- Mom-" I can't get the words out before I collapse.
“Her cane? She doesn't have it,” Eleanor notices.
“Don't go after Bob. There's a tiger. It- almost attacked me.” I finally manage to explain the situation. Eleanor helps me up on the sofa.
A loud noise distracts us for a moment. My dad goes outside to check it out and returns with Bob half-eaten.
"Bob! No, You can't leave me. I need you!"
"Leigh. Listen to me, okay? Thank you. You gave me a chance." Bob says before closing his eyes one final time.
"I'm afraid we can' t fix him this time, Leigh," My dad's voice though sad is comforting and sympathetic as well.
Tears roll down my face as Eleanor puts a comforting hand on my shoulder.
"Goodbye, Bob. I'm going to miss you."
I collapse into Eleanor's arms crying like a baby. Yes, I'm crying over a cane, but don't you get it? Bob was my strength. He helped me overcome bullying, my mother and saved me from a tiger attack.
A few days later my dad and I are waiting in the doctor's office. "Leigh Harper?" A nurse calls out to me. Just as I'm walking into the office, a girl with a disfigured arm and I almost bump into each other. "Oh, I'm sorry," I give an apologetic smile, but she's seems not to notice.
"Bye, Jania!" The doctor calls out to her.
Without even saying a word, she rushes out of the office. "I know it's none of my business, but is she okay?" I ask.
"Sorry, honey. I take doctor-patient confidentiality seriously." Doctor Maze smiles at me. I nod my understanding and Doctor Maze leads me to her office. I jump on the table. "We're just going to take an x-ray to make sure everything's okay."
Doctor Maze comes back in smiling. "I have good news for you. You're a candidate for knee surgery. Now, you'll have to walk with a limp for a while because your surgery won't be scheduled until after the holidays. The good news is that you no longer need to walk with that cane. I was sorry to hear about your cane, but maybe that was a sign that you needed." Doctor Maze smiles at me.
After my appointment, I join my dad in the waiting room. While he's paying for the fee, I walk outside and sat down next to the girl I almost ran into. “Are you okay?” I ask. The girl looks up sniffling at me.
"I just got some bad news. It turns out I'm not a candidate for surgery. So it looks like I'm going to be a freak for the rest of my life."
"I don't think you're a freak, and I'm sure your friends don't think that either." The girls smiles at me and holds out her hand for me to take.
"I'm Jania Gates. I'm surprised you haven't heard of me."
“Should I have?”
Jania takes an article out of her pocket and hands it to me. "Keep it and if we do see each other again, you can give it back to me then," Jania smiled.
“Ready?” Dad asks.
I nod and hop into the car. "It looks like you made a new friend." Dad tries to make conversation, but I'm too tired to talk.
Once we get home, Eleanor has dinner on the table. "Your dad called to tell me the good news, so I thought to make your favorite. Meatloaf."
November 28: Thanksgiving
After waking up early, I rush downstairs to help Dad and Eleanor with Thanksgiving preparations. "I thought it was just going to be three of this year," I say as I notice the table is set for more than three.
Dad smiles. "Yeah, about that. I've taken the liberty of finding people we never met and inviting them here."
"I know you're cautious,Leigh, but sometimes being too cautious can cost us future friendships " I guess deep down I know my dad is right so I don't argue with him.
“Need any help?” I ask Eleanor.
“Nope. How does it look?”
“Perfect just like you.”
Eleanor laughs. That's impossible. You and I know that I'm far from perfect,” Eleanor finishes fixing the decorations before kissing my lips.
When the door rings, I answer the door. I'm shocked to face to face with Jania. She's carrying a pumpkin pie and is with a boy in a wheelchair.
"Leigh, this is my boyfriend Gil. Thank you so much for inviting us, Mr. Harper." "Of course. Come on in the kitchen."
As everyone is heading into the kitchen, I linger for a moment and look at the sky.
"Happy Thanksgiving, Bob." I close the door and happily join my family and new friends for our favorite Holiday.