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Pay It Forward(4)
Catherine Ryan Hyde


“Trevor what?”

“McKinney. Did I hurt your feelings?”

“No, Trevor. You didn’t.”

“My mom says I shouldn’t ask people things like that, because it might hurt their feelings. She says you should act like you didn’t notice.”

“Well, what your mom doesn’t know, Trevor, because she’s never been in my shoes, is that if you act like you didn’t notice, I still know that you did. And then it feels strange that we can’t talk about it when we’re both thinking about it. Know what I mean?”

“I think so. So, what happened?”

“I was injured in a war.”

“In Vietnam?”

“That’s right.”

“My daddy was in Vietnam. He says it’s a hellhole.”

“I would tend to agree. Even though I was only there for seven weeks.”

“My daddy was there two years.”

“Was he injured?”

“Maybe a little. I think he has a sore knee.”

“I was supposed to stay two years, but I got hurt so badly that I had to come home. So, in a way I was lucky that I didn’t have to stay, and in a way your daddy was lucky because he didn’t get hurt that badly. If you know what I mean.” The boy didn’t look too sure that he did. “Maybe someday I’ll meet your dad. Maybe on parents’ night.”

“I don’t think so. We don’t know where he is. What’s under the eye patch?”


“How can it be nothing?”

“It’s like nothing was ever there. Do you want to see?”

“You bet.”

Reuben took off the patch.

No one seemed to know quite what he meant by “nothing,” until they saw it. No one seemed prepared for the shock of “nothing” where there would be an eye on everyone else they had ever met. The boy’s head rocked back a little, then he nodded. Kids were easier. Reuben replaced the patch.

“Sorry about your face. But you know, it’s only just that one side. The other side looks real good.”

“Thank you, Trevor. I think you are the first person to offer me that compliment.”

“Well, see ya.”

“Good-bye, Trevor.”

Reuben moved to the window and looked out over the front lawn. Watched students clump and talk and run on the grass, until Trevor appeared, trotting down the front steps.

It was ingrained in Reuben to defend this moment, and he could not have returned to his desk if he’d tried. This he could not release. He needed to know if Trevor would run up to the other boys to flaunt his new knowledge. To collect on any bets or tell any tales, which Reuben would not hear, only imagine from his second-floor perch, his face flushing under the imagined words. But Trevor trotted past the boys without so much as a glance, stopping to speak to no one.

It was almost time for Reuben’s second class to arrive. So he had to get started, preparing himself to do it all over again.

From The Other Faces Behind the Movement

by Chris Chandler

There is nothing monstrous or grotesque about my face. I get to state this with a certain objectivity, being perhaps the only one capable of such. I am the only one used to seeing it, because I am the only one who dares, with the help of a shaving mirror, to openly stare.

I have undergone eleven operations, all in all, to repair what was, at one time, unsightly damage. The area that was my left eye, and the lost bone and muscle under cheek and brow, have been neatly covered with skin removed from my thigh. I have endured numerous skin grafts and plastic surgery. Only a few of these were necessary for health or function. Most were intended to make me an easier individual to meet. The final result is a smooth, complete absence of an eye, as if one had never existed; a great loss of muscle and mass in cheek and neck; and obvious nerve damage to the left corner of my mouth. It is dead, so to speak, and droops. But after many years of remedial diction therapy, my speech is fairly easily understood.

So, in a sense it is not what people see in my face that disturbs them, but rather what they expect to see and do not.

I also have minimal use of my left arm, which is foreshortened and thin from resulting atrophy. My guess is that people rarely notice this until I’ve been around awhile, because my face tends to steal the show.

I have worked in schools, lounged in staff rooms, where a Band-Aid draws comment and requires explanation. Richie, what did you do to your hand? A cast on an extremity becomes a story told for six weeks, multiplied by the number of employees. Well, I was on a ladder, see, preparing to clean my storm drains….

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