David's Ball and Mr. Spider’s Paper House

By: Stefano Valerio

There was the sound of children playing outside with a ball. They were playing with a volleyball ball. I heard ball bouncing outside as the kids ran after it. I usually ran after ball too, but my legs hurt. That's why I sat down on the bench, though I would like to play again. I like volleyball balls. They're like squishy marbles. But I just say ball because I have a hard time saying ‘volley’. Mama also says I forget to put ‘the’ in some words.

The bell rang and Teacher Sharon called us all back to the classroom. I looked away from the bell. I covered my ears and closed my eyes. Teacher Sharon then tapped my back three times. She said that it was time to go back, then she did a smiley face. I liked Teacher Sharon. Teacher Sharon had black eyes and yellow hair and she smelled of roses. Teacher Sharon said that I should be more careful next time and that if next time I behaved I’d get a gold star. I read a book on stars once that said the sun was a star.

In the classroom all the kids were eating. Some had vegetables and some had sausages. Mama likes to make omelette. She puts bell peppers, grilled onions, some chopped ham and some shredded cheese. The omelette Mama packed for me was still warm. It was good.

Then Teacher Sharon taught us some songs and the song about the itsy bitsy spider, but I didn't like spiders. They make web traps and I always ran into them when I played with my classmates. Spiders also like to trap their food like flies and small bugs. They say spiders in Australia can fly. Some are poisonous and some can kill a person. That’s why I didn’t like spiders.

While Teacher Sharon was teaching, I looked at ball outside. Ball looked like a shiny marble, so I stood up and head for the door. I wanted to play with ball, but Teacher Sharon grabbed my hand.

"Where are you going, David?" she said.

I said, "I wanna play with ball."

“You can play later, David. It's time for music. Music first then ball okay?"

"Okay. Music first then ball." Then I went back to my chair and sat down.

I just wanted to play with ball. I didn't like to sing. I only like music when my Mama sings. She always sings praise and worship before I go to bed. The other kids said I looked weird. Some said I was ugly. I didn't really care. Mama said I was made special and unique. She said I was like Papa. He wasn't the most handsome person she had met, but he was the most helpful person she knew.

The bell rang and I could go home now. Teacher Sharon said I should stay with ball until Mama got here. Okay, I'll play with ball.

I held ball in my hand then threw it in the air. I was happy when I saw it fly up in the air. Ball was fun.

I heard Mama when she got to school.

"David?" she said

"Mama!" I said as she reached for my hand.

"How was the omelette?"

"It was nice."

"Did the teacher give homework?" she asked, smiling.

"No. Just sing songs," I said, holding ball.

"Did you like those nursery rhymes?"

I stayed quiet. I did not know what nursery rhymes were.

"David," she firmly spoke.

"Yes, Mama?" I was afraid. I don't like when people shout. Teacher Sharon said if someone shouted I could just cover my ears.

"Did you like the songs, David?"

"No. There was one about a spider."

"Ah, that's okay. It's just a song,” she spoke smiling again. She took my bags and we went home.

Mama and I walked home sometimes. If I behaved, Mama said we would drop by the co-op store. The co-op store was like Mini Stop but only within our street. In the co-op store, it smelled like old wood. There was no air-con, but you got to buy some milk, chips and ice cream. Ice cream is cold. I like ice cream, but Mama said I was not allowed today. I could only eat ice cream on special days. One time it was Papa's birthday and Mama and I rushed to the co-op store. She was looking for an ice cream that Papa would like, but she couldn’t choose one. I knew what Papa liked. He liked strawberry because strawberries were Mama's favorite fruit. Strawberries are red. They like growing on cold days. Mama said I'd grow taller soon. I wonder if I was born on a cold day, then I'd be a giant but giants are mean. I don't want to be mean. I want to be David, so I'd just be David. When we got home I put ball down. Nice ball.

Mama turned TV on to the volleyball channel. I had never seen this channel before. I was surprised and rushed to Mama's side.

"Is that ball!?" I shouted.

"Shh. Yes, David. It's volleyball," she said rubbing my back gently.

"David, why are you so sweaty?" she asked, wiping her hands on her pants.

"Because I ran and played ball," I said.

"I'll give you a bath okay?"

"Later?"

"No, now," she said.

"I want later," I whined.

"Now, David," she said firmly while I sat in a chair and still watched TV.

"David, come on. So you can watch again," she bargained.

"Can I bath after?" I was still in the chair.

"Now, David. Don't make me count to three." Mama was waiting by the bathroom.

"Bath then watch?" I asked.

"Yes, David. Bath first then watch," Mama said. Her voice was not loud.

"Okay, Mama. Bath then watch." I followed Mama and she gave me a bath. After the bath, I watched ball. Mama fell asleep when she was watching. I saw some people making ball bounce and some made ball fly like catapult. Catapults are dangerous. Catapults throw rock but I will catapult ball. I hit ball like the one on TV. I couldn’t make ball catapult though I could only make ball go up. I tried hard. So hard that I spent all my time outside but didn’t get ball to catapult. Training was hard.

Just when I was about to throw ball, Mama woke up. “David?” she said while yawning.

“Mama, ball bounce is hard,” I said while looking down at ball.

“How are you trying to bounce the ball, David?”

“I saw it on TV. People made ball catapult!” I looked at Mama.

“Oh? Catapult?”

“They held ball like this and made catapult!” I tried to do a serve. “They made ball catapult on other people.”

“Did the ball hit the other people?” gently rubbing her chin.

“No, but some didn’t catch or make ball bounce back.”

“David, are you trying to perform a serve?”

“Serve? Mama what’s a serve?”

“This is a serve David.” Mama made ball catapult.

“Mama?! How did you catapult?!” I gasped.

“Like this, David. Let Mama show you how it’s done. “

Mama threw ball in the air and swung her arm as ball landed on her wrist. Ball flew across the air. Mama was good. I love Mama. Mama told me that I should keep practicing how to catapult ball. She said if I could catapult ball far she would teach me how to bounce ball or dribble ball. Every time I practiced Mama would watch and say if I catapulted ball wrong.

“David when you catapult make sure to bend your knees. Okay?” she said firmly.

I did just as she said.

“That’s better, David. Now, keep practicing it.”

When it was time for dinner, she sighed. “David, I’m tired.” “Mama, just five more! I can do this!” I continued practicing. “David, Mama is really tired from coaching.”

“Mama said she would teach how to bounce ball. But you said I can’t bounce ball if my form is not right.”

“Okay, David. After five tries, Mama will teach you how to bounce ball. But are you sure you can do five more catapults, David?”

“Mama promises she will teach David how to bounce if I do five catapults?” I

asked.

“Mama promises,” she said raising her left hand and crossing her heart.

After I did the five catapults, Mama gave me a big hug and kissed my cheek. She did what she promised me.

“I’m proud of you!” she said, smiling rubbing her cheeks on my cheeks.

“High five,” she said as she raised her hand.

“High Five!”

I liked it when ball bounced. Ball’s bounce was nice. I liked ball.

One day, after brunch I wanted to play with ball.

“David, Mama has to fix and clean the house,“ she said.

“Mama has to fix house?” I said.

“Mama will fix the house so I need you to play outside, okay? Remember, Mama doesn’t like getting disturbed while fixing. So is it okay with David to play outside?“

“David will play outside. Okay, Mama. David will play with ball outside.”

“Have fun, David.” She gently closed the door of house.

It was a Saturday. I like Saturdays. Saturday is a no-school day. So I went to ball but found ball in some web. I didn't like web because webs meant there was a spider. I tried to reach for ball but spider came out. I ran away from ball. I felt my heart beat fast.

Faster than fastest. I wanted to get ball, but I didn't want to touch spider. Mama was busy with house fix and Papa was at work. Mama said I could play ball today since she was in house fixing. I wanted to play with ball since it was a Saturday, but I didn't like spider. I didn't know what to do so I waited for spider to sleep. I waited long, very long that sun turned orange. So long that I sweated a lot. I didn't like waiting.

When Mama opened the door, I ran to her.

"Did you have fun with ball?" She said smiling.

"Bad! Very bad!" I shouted.

"No need to shout, David." She massaged her ear. "Why is it bad, David?" she

asked.

"Spider on ball. I don't like spider," I said.

"Spiders are nothing to be afraid of David," she said rubbing my head.

"Spider is scary."

"Show Mama the spider."

I grabbed Mama's hand and took her to ball. Ball was by spider.

"David, that's a small spider," she said giggling.

"Is it poisonous? I don't like spiders," I said.

"The spider is not poisonous but the spider made a home beside the volleyball ball. Do you want to break the spider's home to get the ball?" she asked.

"I don't want spider to lose home, but I want ball," I said hiding behind my mother's legs.

"Do you want to give the spider a different home?" she asked.

"I just want ball," I said.

"David, the spider worked hard to make a house," she said.

"What house?" I asked Mama.

Mama points at the web without touching them.

"This is the spider's house David. To get to your ball you have to push the spider’s house,” she said.

"Can spider make new house?" I asked.

"He can, but it will take him a long long time," Mama said.

"Why don't you give the spider something? Like a boot or a slipper you don't use anymore," Mama said.

"Will Mr. Spider be mad if I take ball?" I asked and called spider Mister.

"He will but if you give a boot he might have a better home than the ball," Mama

said.

I ran around house to look for a boot. I found no boot. Mama went to cook dinner and I was stuck with Mr.Spider. Mr.Spider was hairy and he stared at me with 4 black eyes. I just wanted ball so I can practice. But Mr. Spider lived on ball.

"Mr.Spider, can you move away from ball? I just want to play with ball," I said to Mr.Spider. I saw Mr. Spider just sit in his house. I waited. I waited until sun changed into moon. Mr. Spider went down from his house to go to a corner. I took ball when Mr. Spider was away. Then I ran back to Mama.

"Mama I got ball!" I said.

"Oh, good work, David. So what did you do with Mr. Spider?" She asked.

"I didn't hurt Mr. Spider and I took ball," I said.

"David, where is Mr. Spider going to live now?" she asked.

"What do I do Mama?"

She smiled and said, "You apologize to Mr. Spider and give him the ball.”

"But I want ball!" I shouted.

"David, you destroyed Mr. Spider's home for a ball?"

"Okay, I’ll make Mr. Spider a home," I said.

After Mama had cooked dinner, she helped me make a paper house made out of colored cartolina pasted together with one square window. I asked Mama to make a big house for Mr. Spider. I put big house where ball was earlier. Mr. Spider wasn't home yet so I hoped he would like new house. I liked new house. House looked nice.

The next morning I checked on Mr. Spider. I found him on roof of paper house.

"I'm sorry for breaking your house, Mr. Spider," I said.

Mama stood next to me and asked, "Did you shake hands with Mr. Spider?"

"No. Should I?" I asked.

"Yes. I think you should, David," she said smiling. "C'mon Mama will help."

"Can I do it later?"

"Why not now, David?" she asked.

"I still don't like Mr. Spider," I said.

"Okay, Mama will get Mr. Spider and have a little chat with him. Then you put him back okay?” Mama said.

"How will you talk to Mr. Spider?"

Mama smiled then suddenly reached her hand out to Mr. Spider. Mr. Spider jumped on to Mama's fingers. I felt my heart become faster, then fastest again. Mama whispered something to Mr. Spider. It was the ‘little chat’ she was talking about earlier.

"David, Mr. Spider said he forgives you, but you have to bring him home," she

said.

"But I don't like to hold Mr. Spider," I said.

"David, Mr. Spider said he wants to be friends with David," Mama said as she passed Mr. Spider to me.

"Mr. Spider won't bite David?" I said.

"Mr. Spider said he forgives you. You just need to bring him home. Come on, you can stretch your hand," she said.

I stretched my hand slowly. My heart rate faster, then the fastest speed. Mr. Spider slowly crossed Mama's fingers to go to my fingers. Mr. Spider was soft. He walked slowly. I raised my hand to look at Mr. Spider. He looked happy, but I was not sure because he just stared back at me. I was afraid Mr. Spider would bite me. I put my hand by Mr. Spider’s house and he jumped off my fingers. Mr. Spider didn't bite me.

I liked Mr. Spider.

Now, I could play with ball.

I played with ball every day.