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Learner story archives

December 27, 2010

This week, we have a story from Cambridge, Ontario. The author, Patty Cantwell, is enrolled in literacy classes and tutoring at the Literacy Group of Waterloo Region. She wrote this short story in 3 parts, to keep you guessing.

Turnaround – Part 3: The Final Installment

by Patty Cantwell

For much of the remainder of the school term their sessions continued to get a little bit better. So time went by and Billy gradually began to open up to her as to why he had robbed the coffee shop. He began to tell her about his childhood and of his dad leaving he and his mom to have an affair with his mom’s best friend. At another session he told Jenna the story of how his mom had lost her job when the factory where she worked was forced to close. They kept getting notices about the rent, phone bills, cable, and hydro. Every day Billy would go to school and hurry home to check on his mom and then rush to his job at the library. He loved his job as he got to work with books. He told Jenna about his goal to be a teacher. When his mom found out that she was diabetic and needed daily medication, Billy felt even more frustrated. He felt so much pressure to try and find a better paying job to help his mom with the bills and her medication. Jenna began to see a totally different person from the person who had robbed the coffee shop and assaulted her friend.

One day when Jenna arrived for their usual session she was surprised to see his mother there. His mother told Jenna that Billy wanted to be a teacher and how he wanted to go to college but he had become so frustrated that he was unable to earn enough money to pay the bills. Billy then told her that he even tried talking to his dad for help but was devastated when his dad turned him down. Jenny heard how Billy became so overwhelmed that he couldn’t take it anymore. He was desperate. He knew that he had to do something, if he didn’t the situation would have gotten worse. It was at this point that Billy came up with the plan to rob the Tim Hortons. However he didn’t mean to hurt anyone because that wasn’t part of the plan. But things had gotten out of hand and he had hurt someone. So while he’s been in jail he’s had lots of time to think about what he had done and how sorry he was. He wants them to try and forgive him somehow. Jenna looked over at his mom and she was crying and Billy looked so sad. Jenna reached out her hand to him. The guard came to take Billy back to his cell and Jenna started to cry.

Meanwhile time went by and Jenna completed her case study and her studies towards becoming a lawyer. In the spring she graduated and soon found a job.

The following fall Billy was granted parole and moved into affordable housing in the downtown area and his mom moved in with him.

One day Jenna was hurrying from her job at the lawyer’s office and she decided to stop at the fountain downtown to enjoy the colourful leaves. She looked over at the opposite side of the fountain and was startled to see Billy walking towards her. A look of shock came over his face as he recognized her. Jenna gave him a hug. Billy began to tell her that he was now in teachers’ college and looking forward to becoming a teacher. He asked her what she had been up to and Jenna told him and then asked him about his mom. They spent the rest of the afternoon talking and realized that they had a lot in common. Billy asked her if she would like to go out to dinner with him sometime. Jenna said, “yes and there’s someone that wants to meet you”.

Part 1 | Part 2

[This story was taken with permission, from Expressions, May 2010, an e-magazine published by Laubach Literacy Ontario.]

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