Once upon a time, in a small town, that fancied calling itself a city, there was a beautiful friendship. It didn’t start off smoothly. In fact, it was the most unlikely of friendships because he was a giant grasshopper and she a tiny doll, controlling her portion of the world in a magical throne. Sitting on her special throne, she breathed in the cleanest of air through a minuscule tube, discreetly placed beneath her tiny nose. At 6’2″ and 150 lbs., the giant grasshopper bounded about, usually with a big smile on his face, happy to be alive in his own world; tolerating (yet not completely conforming to )the world presented to him. Energy abound, always moving quickly, his long limbs propelling him, one of his unique powers was speed . His job was to race on the track in the summer and on the ice in the winter with the best of all of the other specials (and sometimes regulars) like him and he did well, bringing back to the hub, ribbons of red and blue and medals of bronze, silver and gold. The giant grasshopper also had natural rhythm and could pound out head nodding and foot tapping beats that kept the other specials in the hub moving while they worked….when the drumming didn’t bother them that is…and if it did, he would switch to humming and singing popular tunes they all knew and loved.
In spite of his wonderfully unique powers, the giant grasshopper struggled to make friends in the regular world because he couldn’t come up with interesting conversations. He knew in his head what he wanted to say, but it didn’t always come out of his mouth just right and he chose to say very little. Still, people tried to get to know him, tried to speak to him but it was the specials and their subjects in the hub who loved him enough to accept him as he was – a giant grasshopper of few words but with with actions that spoke louder than anything anyone could ever say.
The first day the giant grasshopper was accepted into the hub, he frightened the little doll to tears with his long limbs, big movements and loud quirky noises. For weeks she cried and complained that he made her afraid and for weeks he didn’t understand what he was doing wrong but the loyal subjects who worked for the specials did not give up because they knew the tiny doll and the giant grasshopper were good for each other and they were determined to help them become friends. By the end of their first semester together, the loyal subjects had the most unlikely of friends sitting beside each other, eating lunch. They rode the same chariot to the hub every morning. On breaks, the grasshopper was even seen standing still ( something that was very difficult for him to do) looking over the doll’s shoulder while she controlled the world through the game she was playing on her tablet.
In time, the tiny doll got quite used to the energetic, musical grasshopper. She became so comfortable having him around, she even ventured out of the hub to help the regulars at the local food bank. Though she hated having to take her magical chair on the lowly city bus, she would go in good spirits if her friend the giant grasshopper was by her side. If he could not go, neither would she and if anyone tried to force her to go, they would be subject to her well-honed power of feist. Time passed and the unique bond between the giant grasshopper and the tiny doll grew stronger. When she would not eat, the grasshopper would sit beside her and simply say “Eat your food,” and she would. When she wanted to keep talking, even though he didn’t seem to be listening, he was as he was just happy to be sitting among the doll and the other specials. When his brother, the locust, taught him how to text, the grasshopper invited the tiny doll to join him and his other special friends for dinner at a local restaurant or to join them for an hour of bowling. Time and again, the little doll refused but one day, she said she would come to dinner if he promised never to ask her to go bowling again. She came to dinner twice and and giggled and smiled through the entire meal, the grasshopper fascinated by her her pretty painted little fingers and toes. Whenever the doll was broken,(i.e. crying) like a true man, the grasshopper made it his job to fix her.
“She’s upset. Why is she crying?” he once asked.
“She does not want to go to the dance in the gym,” the subject replied.
“Okay. Look…just… Dance with me,”
Tears ceased and the problem was solved and another year in the hub came to an end and the specials and their unique powers went on break. The little doll was old enough to move away from the hub and live full time in the world of regulars. She played unique powers baseball and she attended unique powers dance class and though she did not see the grasshopper everyday she texted with him and came out to dinner whenever she could. The giant grasshopper had gotten used to the little doll’s absence from the hub and not seeing her on the chariot that transported them to the hub every day but the texts helped to keep them connected and he was thrilled that he was going to get to see her at his upcoming 18th birthday. She was the first name on his guest list and though he did not have any great words to say to her, he was looking forward to spend time with her and the other specials and their unique powers as they shared ideas on how to teach the lowly regulars how to properly run the world.
The day the giant grasshopper and his brother the locust were planning to text the specials about his birthday dinner, their mother found out that the little doll had died the day before. Her most unique power was her most dangerous power and though she was successful keeping it at bay, it snuck up on her and with no time to put up her defenses, it overpowered her and took her to Heaven.
When the giant grasshopper’s mother told him what had happened to the tiny doll, she was not sure how he was feeling about losing his friend.
“Do you remember Grandad Grasshopper?” his mother asked. The grasshopper nodded. “Tell me what happened,” she said.
“He got sick.” he replied, looking out the window.
“And?” his mother urged.
“He died,” he said, looking her in the eyes.
“Yes, he did. You know your friend the little doll?”
“Well, son, she got sick and she died,”
“Oh. She died?”
“Yes. Like Grandad Grasshopper, she got sick, she went to the hospital but they could not fix her and she died but just like Grandad, she is sleeping now. She’s sleeping forever and is in no pain. She’s not sick anymore and she is in Heaven,”
“Yes” The grasshopper listened to his mother’s words, nodded and said,
“Okay, thank you. I’m going to my room now. I’m good,”
From time to time over the next day, the grasshopper would ask “The doll is gone?” or “She died? The doll is dead?” and his family and his loyal subjects would confirm that she was indeed gone. His mother told him that there was an opportunity for him to see the doll one last time and say goodbye and the grasshopper decided that was a good idea. When his day was done at the hub, he changed out of his uniform into a nice shirt, tie and jacket and went to where the doll was resting. He saw her picture, he signed the guest book and waited in line to see his friend. Being taller than everyone in the room, the grasshopper saw her lying peacefully in her casket.
“There she is,” he said. “She’s sleeping. She should wake up,”
“She can’t, son, remember? What happened to her?” his mother asked him.
“Yes, she is asleep forever but she is…”
“She is in Heaven like Grandad Grasshopper, with Jesus. Are you okay?” his mother asked searching his face to see what he was feeling. The grasshopper said nothing but gave the thumbs up. As they approached the doll’s parents, hugs and words of kindness and sympathy were exchanged and the grasshopper shook hands with her family members and nodded when they thanked him for coming. He stopped and stared at her, his his face unreadable and he moved along the line of people to the very end where he took a seat on a nearby sofa. Hugging a cushion close to his chest, he buried his head into it then lifted it, revealing a brief smile.
“What do you want to do now? asked his mom. “Do you want me to take you home?”
“I want to see her again,” and he rose, looking even taller than he was, walked to where the little doll lay and knelt beside her. His loyal subject told him that he could touch her if he wanted and he did, gently placing his large hand on her tiny one. He paused for what seemed like an eternity then he sighed and said, “Well…see ya…I love you…I’ll miss you,” He got to his feet, turned and left the room but not before taking the memorial picture card of her and gently kissing it before putting it in his pocket. Noticing his mother’s face, he asked,”You okay? You look sad,”
“I am,” she replied “Thank you for asking. I am sad but I will be okay. How about you?”
“I’m good,” Let’s go home,”
For a few hours after the visitation, the giant grasshopper would randomly tell his mother, father, brother and loyal subjects that the doll had died. He would get reassurance from them that she was never waking up and that she was gone forever but she was okay because she was in a better place everyone called Heaven. The photo of them at the food bank and the card he took from the visitation are in a visible place in his room and I suspect, in spite of the challenges of his unique powers, he does feel deeply and he will always remember his friend, the little doll.