Timothy was walking home, his torn and ratty sneakers kicking a pebble as he walked. He had a huge problem. The class talent show. What was he going do? What talent could he do? He didn’t sing or dance well. There was no instrument he could play. He didn’t play sports either. He could roll his tongue back to make it look like it disappeared, but that would be hard to show the whole class and their parents. Timothy sighed as he kicked the pebble off the street.
“Hey, Ratty!” Timothy walked a bit quicker when he heard the screech of the microphone. Nice pristine red and gold sneakers came into Timothy’s view. He stopped and looked up. “I’m talking to you, Ratty.” John’s voice sneered from the little box hanging from the side of his pants. Timothy still couldn’t remember why John had the microphone, but it did make his voice that much harder to ignore. “Didn’t your mom teach you that it’s rude to ignore people?”
“Ratty is not my name.” Timothy sighed. “It’s Timothy.” He gripped his backpack straps tighter as a few other boys from their class appeared behind John.
“Well, if your shoes weren’t so ratty, no one would call you that.” John smirked and the other boys chuckled. Why? Timothy really didn’t know. John wasn’t a big boy, nor was he scary or funny. Maybe it was because of the microphone. It was really cool.
“They’re the only ones I have.” Timothy looked down at his sneakers. They were a dull light blue, with a tiny hole in the cloth on the side at the end of the peeling yellowish lightning bolt. It made it look like real lightning had put a hole in his shoes.
“Oh, that’s too bad.” John’s screechy voice made Timothy look up. John shared a look with the other boys and Timothy knew that it was not going to end well. “How about this?” John stepped towards Timothy, towering over him. Timothy knew that John was not big. The tallest boy in their class was Martin, and Henry was the biggest. Timothy though, he was the shortest. Maybe that could be his talent?
“I take the shoes off of you until you get new ones.” Timothy focused back on John as he talked. The other boys chuckled and began surrounding Timothy. Timothy blinked.
“Huh?” John’s eyebrow did a funny little movement, like a wriggly worm. Timothy smiled and bent down. He took off his shoes, showing off his cool neon orange socks, and held them out to John.
“You can take my shoes.” Timothy said as he held out the shoes.
“I’m not giving you mine.” John sneered. Timothy nodded.
“I know. They’re super nice! Like, I saw them at the store with the picture of that really cool basketball player, you know the one by the candy shop with the really, really, good bubblegum lollipops, and I saw how the shoes are based off the superhero,” Timothy stopped talking when John grabbed the shoes roughly.
“Shut up Ratty!” John sneered. Timothy smiled again.
“You can’t call me Ratty. I don’t have my shoes.” Timothy bounced on his toes. He still didn’t reach John’s height.
“Whatever.” John’s eyes rolled. “Let’s go guys, Timothy is boring.” John pushed past Timothy and the other boys made room for him. The glared at Timothy before leaving.
“Thanks for taking my shoes!” Timothy called out. They ignored him. Timothy shrugged and finished walking home. He still had to figure out what his talent was. When he arrived home, his neon orange socks a dark brown orange, his parents were worried.
“Timothy, honey,” His mother cooed. “Where are your shoes?”
“John took them.” Timothy answered as he took off his backpack. “He said that people called me ratty because of my shoes. So, he wanted to take them until I got new ones so people would stop calling me Ratty.”
“Did they stop?” His father asked. Timothy nodded excitedly.
“Yep!” Timothy smiled at his parents as they glanced at each other. His father sighed and ruffled his hair.
“Well, some people are good at taking, others at giving.” At his father’s words, Timothy got an idea.
“I GOT A TALENT!” Timothy cheered and he hugged his father. “Thanks dad!” He ran off to plan how he was going to present his talent.
The next day, the talent show started after school. Timothy was the very last one thanks to his height, and he watched everyone else sing dance, act, and John even used his microphone to make weird noises and pretend to be a robot. Everyone was doing really, really, good. Timothy bounced on his toes in his dad’s sneakers before he fell forward a bit.
They were way too big and he kept falling in them. He didn’t want to fall on the stage. So as the kid before him danced, Timothy gave the shoes back to his parents and ran back to the stage. He could do his talent without shoes. Plus, his neon socks still had a bit of orange left. He was good.
When the dancer finished, it was finally Timothy’s turn. The teacher called him out and handed him the microphone. His parents clapped loudly but Timothy saw how the other parents were really tired. Maybe because they worked really hard like his mom and dad.
“What’s this kid gonna even do? He doesn’t even have shoes.” Timothy heard a lady in the front row say. Maybe she was trying to whisper, but she wasn’t good at it. Still, it worked for Timothy.
“Thank you for asking miss!” Timothy addressed the lady. “If you come up here, I can show you.” She looked at him, eyes wide. “Oh, please! Please come up here miss.”
“Um, sure.” The lady said slowly as she stood up and walked towards the stage.
“Thank you!” Timothy smiled at the lady. “John?” Timothy turned to look at the backstage area. John was watching him with the other boys. “Can you please come out here?” John said something and the other boys giggled, or was it chuckle. Timothy couldn’t really see. The stage was very bright. But Timothy saw John walking towards him, his chest high.
“Thank you, John.” Timothy smiled at John before turning to the woman. “Miss, can you please take his shoes?”
“What?” The lady and John held their mouths open at him.
“Can you please take John’s shoes miss?” Timothy asked again. Then he looked at John. “I promise you’ll get them back.” John blinked at him.
“Are you crazy? I’m not giving anyone my sneakers.” John screeched. Timothy nodded.
“I know. She’s taking them from you.” Timothy pointed at the lady. She looked between John and Timothy, before her eyes landed on John.
“Um, I want your shoes.” She said slowly. Timothy pulled her sleeve. She bent down towards him.
“You forgot to say please.” He whispered, but he wasn’t really good at whispering either. He heard some of the people in the audience laugh.
“Um, I want your shoes, please.” The lady told John again and held out her hand. John kept opening and closing his mouth as he looked between the lady and Timothy. Then he huffed and glared at Timothy.
“I better get these back.” John sneered as he bent down and took off his shoes, the nice red and gold sneakers. He handed them to the lady.
“Now,” The lady looked to Timothy.
“Can you give me the shoes, please?” Timothy asked with a smile. She handed him the shoes. “Thank you! You can sit down now.” The lady nodded slowly and went to sit back down. John reached for his shoes. Timothy pulled them away.
“I’m not done.” Timothy pouted. John’s growl kind of sounded like a hiss when it left his voice box. “I’ll give them back when I’m done.” Timothy promised before looking to the audience. “I need one more person.” A man in the audience raised their hand. “Thank you, sir!” Timothy pointed to the man. The man came on the stage. “Sir, can you please take his microphone?”
“Wha,” John didn’t get to finish before the man pulled John’s microphone away, causing the voice box on his belt to let out a loud click.
“Let me guess,” the man said slowly. “I give this to you, kid.” Timothy nodded and held out his hands. “Here you go.” The man put John’s microphone in Timothy’s hands.
“Thank you!” Timothy smiled.
“No problem.” The man smiled and shook his head as he went and sat down. Timothy looked to John. John was opening and closing his mouth like a fish, and his eyes were watery. Timothy got the shoes and John’s microphone, and handed them out to John.
“Here you go.”
“What?” John’s scratchy voice came out in a whisper. Timothy stepped closer with the items.
“I’m giving these back. That’s my talent!” Timothy held out the shoes and John’s microphone. “Everyone gives and takes; some are better at taking. Like my shoes.” Timothy bounced on his toes. “Or the name Ratty people gave me. You took that away.” Timothy smiled at John.
“I’m better at giving! So here. I’m giving these back to you!” Timothy once again held out John’s shoes and microphone. John wiped his eyes, and slowly took back his things. Timothy smiled at John. “Thank you for taking them and letting me give them back.” Then he turned towards the audience. “Thank you for watching!”
As I’ve been packing my things to go home, I find that I can’t take everything with me. So, I’ve been giving a lot of stuff away. Seeing people’s reaction to what I give them, it’s amazing. The way their eyes light up and a smile makes their face softer, how excited they get, there’s a beauty to it. Like this one woman I worked with was so happy to get some gifts I got to give my students. She only has sons, so as she clutched the princess craft kit to her chest, she said she wanted it because she wanted to feel like a princess. I happily encouraged her to take it and any other princess thing she wanted.
But I have also been taking from people, their time, money, gifts that they want to give to say goodbye. That same reaction is there. They get excited to give me their time or gifts. Like another couple of coworkers, took me out to dinner. One traveled an hour just because she heard I was going to be there. All of us spent a good twenty minutes taking selfies, taking time to enjoy ourselves. My assistant teacher was excitedly encouraging me to take whatever I wanted from the classroom, assuring me that all she wanted to give was my happiness, with whatever it took.
There’s power in giving and taking. We affect others with what we give and take. Whether it be items, words, feelings, or our time. We can give and take anything, but we can’t change what others do. What they give and take is up to them. Just as it is up to us what we give and take. So, what are you giving and taking?
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.Luke 6:35-36 NKJV