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The Cottage (standard:drama, 1493 words)
Author: Maureen StirsmanAdded: Oct 30 2002Views/Reads: 4221/2189Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Raymond Carter lives alone in a cottage across from the elementary school. Mrs. Clark delivers a red envelope to his door, while the fifth grade students watch excitedly.

Click here to read the first 75 lines of the story

see if he was outside.  She watched when the mailman came, and then see 
Ray go to the box and smile if he had mail.  Some days, when the box 
was empty, he would go back to the house with shoulders slightly 
stooped.  Sandra was beginning to feel almost as though she knew him a 
little, but she had never bothered to find out anything about him, 
about the man in the house across from the school. 

Another day passed with no mail.  Ray looked more downcast.  She watched
him slowly climb the steps of his porch.  She noticed that the lady 
next door also found an empty mailbox. 

Mrs. Clark returned to her fifth graders and told them about the two
people across the street.  “What can we do?” she asked the class.  
“They both look lonely.” 

“Let's send them to Disney Land,” said a sunny red-haired girl. 

“Leave them alone if that is what they want,” a little boy said slumping
in his seat. 

“Maybe they don't want that.  How about taking them to the movies or the
zoo?” said a round faced boy, bouncing. 

“Who cares?” said another boy. 

“Come on now.  Settle down and think.  What could we do for them?” asked
Mrs. Clark. 

“I know, I know,” said a child in the back row who had been raising her
hand waiting to be called on.  “I know!  Let's send them letters.” 

“Letters?  That's an idea,” said the teacher. 

The next day each of the members of Sandra Clark's fifth grade class
wrote a letter to each of the two people who lived across the street. 

When the letters were ready the whole class, led by Mrs. Clark, stood in
front of the school.  They children could not cross the street but the 
teacher could.  The letters were all put into two big red envelopes and 
sealed.  Mrs. Clark ran across while the students watched.  She slipped 
one envelope behind the screen door of the lady's porch and then the 
other one between the doors to Brother Carter's house. 

Mrs. Clark ran back across the street to the students.  They were
bouncing with excitement and energy, the joy of doing something for 
someone else. 

When Mrs. Clark got back to her computer desk she could see that both
envelopes had been picked up. 

The next day there was a knock on the side door of the school, one that
was seldom used.  Brother Raymond Carter stood outside the door 
polishing one shoe on the back of the other pants leg.  His white shirt 
was freshly ironed.  His wash pants had a sharp crease. 

Miss Glass, the assistant principal, who happened to be in the hall at
the time, opened the door.  Brother Carter took his worn felt hat into 
his brown wrinkled hands and held it in front of him.  “May I please 
see Mrs. Clark's class, please?” 

Miss Glass and Mr. Carter went to the classroom.  Miss Glass opened the
door and quietly asked, “Mrs. Clark, would you come out into the hall 
for a moment, please?” 

A few minutes later the teacher returned to the room with the visitor. 
“Class, this is Mr. Carter.  Mr. Carter this is the fifth grade class,” 
said Mrs. Clark. 

“Is that our Mr. Carter?” one of the boys asked. 

Mrs. Clark laughed a little, “Yes, this is our Mr. Carter.” 

Raymond Carter held his hat in trembling hands.  “Young people, you have
changed my life.  I was never so amazed and so touched in a long, long 
time.  You made my day, as they say.  In fact you made my week!”  He 
stayed with the class for a while and answered questions.  Many of the 
students didn't have grandparents or great grandparents, or if they did 
they lived a long way away.  When the bell rang they were all sorry the 
class was over. 

“Can you come back, Mr. Carter?” someone asked.  “Can he, Mrs. Clark?” 

“I am sure that would be fine,” she said smiling. 

Ray crossed the street with a sprightly step.  He put a saucer of milk
on the porch for a stray cat he had seen.  He snipped a yellow flower 
and checked the mailbox to find two mailings for ‘occupant' but Brother 
Carter didn't care.  He had his fifth grade class.  And he had stories 
to tell: the war, seminary, inventions he had seen, the cars he had 
driven, life in the neighborhood.  Oh, he had stories to tell! 

The woman next door peered through the lace curtains and said to her
poodle dog, “Look at that old fool.  What makes him so happy?  He is 
all alone like me.”  With that she let the curtain drop and pulled the 
blinds to keep the sun from bleaching her old blue couch. 


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