The school bus creaked to a stop before the small, white bungalow. Children’s laughter carried on the springtime air.
Inside the house, Annie McDaniel reached for the book bag. She approached her nephew, to help steer his arms through the bag’s straps. She gave no warning before touching Dillon.
The moment her fingers brushed his arm, he darted out of reach. Struggling on his own, he positioned the bag on his back.
His rejection hurt more than it should have, especially since she hadn’t prepared him for the physical contact he dreaded. It was a foolish mistake. He was a five year old whose world had vanished in a burst of gunfire. The experience had left him frightened, skittish, a mere shell of a boy.
Despite her disappointment, she forced a cheery note into her voice. “Better hurry, Dillon. The bus will leave without you.”
The gentle warning prodded him out the door. Head bent low, he trudged across the lawn. He climbed the steps of the bus without a backward glance.
Annie offered a half-hearted wave. There was no sense worrying about when, or if, Dillon would heal. It was a miracle he was a part of her life at all.
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