Daily Prompt – Pat on the Back (Short Story)

I am proud of many people but this is the story of one of them. Lets call him Ralph.

Pat on the Back

Ralph loved his job, in fact he was one of the best at what he did. The people around him would look on enviously and as a result pick on his clothes and look.

“Does he have a quiff?” they would giggle behind hand disguised mouths, but Ralph would ignore them. He walked on his way happy with his life and himself.

Ralph was a strong man. Just under six-feet he was able to lift engine blocks, you see he was a mechanic. But his current job was teaching maths, he had to branch out or lose his job, so he’d accepted an extra post teaching maths for those who could not understand the confusing numbers. They were the dregs from school, and they came into Ralph’s class knowing there was no hope. Ralph gave them hope.

He would walk out into the towns gardens and ask them how many of these or that and suddenly the young adults would be doing maths. At first they would walk with heads stooped and backs rounded, but eventually they would stand straight and look at their peers with clear eyes.

One day though Ralph was in a hurry, he had to get from one level of the college to another. To do that he needed to get down five flights of steps. He walked these so many times that he had no need to watch his step. So he didn’t, instead he chatted to the students with him. It happened with a laugh.

Ralph laughed, his foot hit an empty can of drink and he fell. The files he carried flew from his hands and the students gasped. But Ralph didn’t fall forward.

He fell back. It saved his life but as he smashed onto the concrete steps something cracked. Maybe if he had stayed still, but he didn’t. He jumped up and limped on.

“Must get to class,” he said. He did love his job.

Except he had broken his back. Ralph was slowly becoming worse and he never realised. Every twist and turn hammered another nail into his career.

A month later he was told of his broken back and that there was nothing to do. Six month later he only had 30% movement and six months after that he admitted defeat and left his job.

Ralph became depressed, but, and this is the reason I am so proud of him, he got up from the sofa one day and looked out of the window.

“I’ve decided,” he said. “I want a small-holding and I want to be self-sufficient.”

Six months after that he had his chickens, geese, turkeys, market garden, sheep and pigs. And for that, for pulling himself up and doing it with only painkillers and determination, I pat him on the back.

He is my hero.

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