“Hey, Noah, your hair is on fire! Quick! Put it out!” Logan yelled as he poured a bottle of cold water over Noah’s head.
“Stop it, you big bully,” Noah said, as he tried to brush the water out of his hair.
“I can’t help it that I have red hair.”
“Well, if I were you, ‘Carrot Head,’ I’d find a way to get rid of it,” Logan said, as he walked off in a huff.
What a jerk! Why can’t he leave me alone?
Not long after that, Noah found a large bump on his neck when he was taking a shower. He showed it to his mom, who whisked him off to the doctor’s office. After waiting many days, the doctor finally called Noah and his mom into his office to hear the results.
“I’m sorry to tell you this, Noah, but you have cancer,” Dr. Anderson said. “I’m going to start you on chemotherapy treatments next week.”
“Oh, no! What’s going to happen to me?” Noah asked.
“Well, your stomach is going to feel upset most of the time,” Dr. Anderson said. “And you’re going to lose all of your hair in a few weeks.”
“Oh, gosh!” Noah said. “I wanted to get rid of my red hair, but not this way!”
By the second treatment, Noah had indeed lost most of his hair. His mom cut the rest off. One day when he felt well enough, he decided to go to school. He tried on several caps to see which one covered up his bald head the best. As he plodded down the sidewalk, his thoughts raced through his head like a bunch of squirrels chasing each other.
I wonder if Mrs. Smith will let me wear my cap in class. I don’t want all those kids staring at me. I wish I didn’t have to go to school.
I hope Logan isn’t there today. He’s such a bully. I’d like to rip his socks off and stuff them in his ears!
Just before Noah reached the schoolyard, his friend Benjamin came running toward him and gave him a high five. “Hey, Noah! Welcome back!”
“Hi, Ben!” Noah said. “Thanks for coming to meet me. It’s really scary to come back to school.”
“I’ll bet it is,” Benjamin said. “Are you feeling better than when I saw you in the hospital?”
“Yeah,” Noah said, “but I still feel pretty sick some days. My head hurts and my stomach makes me feel like barfing all the time.” Noah lifted up his hat slightly for a second and said, “Look at my head! Doesn’t this look freaky?”
“Well . . . a bit.” Benjamin paused. “But didn’t you always say you wished you could get rid of your red hair?”
“Yeah, but I was hoping for a different color, not this!”
Just then the bell rang and everyone jostled for a spot in line to go inside. Noah’s stomach churned as he walked up to the building. He saw some of the kids whispering and pointing his way. He looked down and felt the sweat break out on his neck. He tugged his cap, making it fit as tightly as he could.
Noah plunked down in his wooden desk. He was scared to glance around to see if anyone noticed he was still wearing his hat. He had a difficult time concentrating on his lessons. He wished he had stayed home.
At noon he and Benjamin went outside to eat their lunch on the grass. They had just finished their bologna sandwiches when Noah looked up and gasped at the kid he saw coming toward them.
“What’s the matter?” Benjamin asked.
“Look who’s coming,” Noah said. A feeling of panic stabbed him in the stomach. “It’s Logan!”
“Oh, that big bully! I hope he doesn’t torment you again.”
Logan, a slightly pudgy kid with a scruffy head of unruly hair, sauntered up. He flicked Noah’s baseball cap off and sent it flying onto the grass. “Hey, ‘Carrot Head,’ what’s with the bald head?”
Noah gasped. He felt his cheeks flame bright red.
“Hey, leave Noah alone,” Benjamin said.
“If I had hair that color, I’d cut it all off, too,” Logan taunted, then walked away.
The next morning, when Noah arrived at school, Benjamin met him with a funny grin on his face. He whipped off his hat and said, “Hey, Noah, look at this!”
Noah gasped! “You shaved off all your hair!”
“Yeah, I didn’t think you should be the only guy around here looking like a door knob,” Benjamin said. “Bald is cool, you know. Feel this.”
Noah felt Benjamin’s head. “It feels like sandpaper,” Noah said. “Mine feels smooth.”
When Noah slid into his desk for afternoon classes, he peeked over at his bald friend Benjamin, and mused. So bald really is cool! Then he quietly slipped off his cap and tucked it into his desk.