Just Like Don

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
"Why did you name me Donald?" a small child asked his mother one morning while she was fixing his breakfast. She paused in her work and looked up at him. “What do you mean?” she asked. “It’s a beautiful name.” He now paused in thought as well. “I was just wondering…” he said with a smile. His mother laughed and patted him lovingly on the head. “There is indeed a reason beyond that I liked the name. I will tell you one day, when you’re older...”

Submitted: November 17, 2007

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Submitted: November 17, 2007

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"Why did you name me Donald?" a small child asked his mother one morning while she was fixing his breakfast. She paused in her work and looked up at him. “What do you mean?” she asked. “It’s a beautiful name.” He now paused in thought as well. “I was just wondering…” he said with a smile. His mother laughed and patted him lovingly on the head. “There is indeed a reason beyond that I liked the name. I will tell you one day, when you’re older.”

“But why momma? I want to know now, why do I have to wait?” The mother sighed sweetly. “Never mind that now dear, eat your breakfast, I don’t want you to be late to school.”

And with that, the boy forgot his question for many years. However, things happened as they always do, and when Donald was in eighth grade, something made him remember that day when he was young. That day his mother promised him an answer when he was older.

“Mother…” he hesitated. “Why was I named Donald?” His mother, sitting in the living room reading, looked up. She motioned towards the chair adjacent to her. “Sit down Don, I’ll tell you the story of your name.”

Don was excited, he loved his mothers stories, but he knew somehow, this one was much more serious than the fairytales she used to tell him before bed every night.

“When I was about your age…” his mother began, “I knew a boy named Donald, he went by Don though, just Don. He was a mean person. Everyone in the school admired him for his popularity, but their admiration turned to fear. He dominated the social ladder with his two friends, Jack and Caleb. Jack was the ringleader, and scrawny Caleb was more or less along for the ride.

But Don was far worse than the others. He had a history of violence, and though he was thin, he was strong. You didn’t mess with him and get away with it.”

She paused, thinking to herself. Don could see her looking into the past, looking into a time that he would soon hear about, a time that gave him his name. She began again.

“I didn’t like him for his cruelty to others including my friends, but he had a past that I had overlooked. When Don was younger, about fifth grade I believe, he was the lowest of the low. Dirt on the bottom of your shoe would receive more respect than he did. People made fun of him constantly. He tried to commit suicide that year.

Once he met Jack and Caleb though, his life sort of turned around. All of a sudden, he had power, friends. Whatever he wanted, he would get. He got into drugs and alcohol. He destroyed what little light he had left in his life.” Once more she stopped. Her eyes were glittering like diamonds for they were tearing up. Don wasn’t sure he wanted to know the end of this story…

“I was in the car with my mother one day, we were driving to the mall where I was going to see a movie with some friends, and I saw him. He was walking along the side of the road, carrying his skateboard. It was a rare sight to see him without Jack and Caleb, even out of school. As my mother slowed at a traffic light, I watched him slowly walk towards the intersection. He didn’t look like the Don I knew from school. He was sadder, but more real at the same time.

I saw something amazing in him. I saw regret. Compassion, worry, pain. ButI saw the regret more than anything else.” At this point in her memory she almost could not go on. She shook with silent sobs for what seemed like hours, until finally her composure was back, and she continued on.

“It made me see that inside, he was human. He could hurt just like anyone else. His tough appearance and reputation didn’t protect him from emotional pain. He was still suffering from the wounds of his past, I realized that he hadn’t let them go and they had been a burden on his heart. I felt his pain, and I understood why he was so mean. It was how he protected himself; I pitied him for it, for having to live his life that way.”

“The next day on the news, they reported of a thirteen year old boys death, a possible suicide. His name was Donald Johnson. That was Don.

The son heard her pain in her voice, her agony, she was just like the Don she knew, never letting go of her pain. Holding on to the memory as if she would die without it.

“He had run out onto the freeway. The car that hit him was doing 75. He was dead on impact. The people in the car weren’t physically hurt, but you can imagine the burden they carried with them the rest of their lives. They had accidentally aided a person in killing himself.

I was called in to talk to the police after word got around that I had seen him earlier that afternoon. From the timeline they created,” she sobbed with a broken heart, “I was the last person, who recognized him, to have seen him before his death.”

Don stood and hugged his mother. She was distraught.

“I felt responsible for years to come; I felt that if I had known I could have stopped him, he might have lived.”

Those words rang in Don’s head for days afterwards. But something else did as well. She had never answered his question. He chose not to ask her about it though because of the burden it was to her. He would let her come to him when she was ready to tell the rest, and come she did.

“I want to finish telling you about your namesake.”

Don nodded, “Alright mother.” And he stood silently, preparing to listen.

“Donald gave me a gift that day before he died, the gift of understanding. He also gave me his wish. It was that one person could know who he really was. He wasn’t that brutal, malicious person he pretended to be. He was a sweet, sweet boy at heart. But his heart was broken. He was a person who had convinced himself so many times over that he couldn’t heal, that it became true. His heart never became whole again, and it led him to death’s door.”

“I named you Donald so that you might truly take to heart this story of a broken child. So that you might understand how horrible the world can be- even children. Don’t ever hurt someone Don, do you hear me? Don’t ever be mean to someone; don’t tease even if you don’t mean what you say. Because there will always be that one little boy or that one little girl, who will listen, and they will believe you. They will believe that they are bad people or that something is wrong with them.

They will be just like Don…”


© Copyright 2017 Rowan Brooks. All rights reserved.

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