A crisp, rainy atmosphere rang in the air around Fred Goodall, who stood expectantly in dress clothes and nice shoes, waiting to board a school bus.
A horde of his classmates surrounded him, chatting excitedly. Fred glanced down at his hands, mindlessly clenching and unclenching his fingers.
Today was the day his senior class planned to leave school grounds for a day…for a field trip.
The occasion had felt too special for Fred to throw on a simple t-shirt. So when he woke up on that particular morning, he spent extra time, making sure he was dressed to the nines.
So far, it had earned him a compliment or two. He shot a smile at one of his friends and trudged up the bus steps.
Fred glanced up and saw one of his teachers pawing through her bag. She sighed. “I forgot the papers.” She let her hand fall, and caught Fred’s eye. “Fred! Will you run back in and get them?”
“Y-yeah, of course!” Fred said, moving back down the aisle.
“Thank you! Hurry, so we can get moving!” she shouted after him.
Imbued with a sense of purpose, Fred jumped off the bus, running towards the school, his target in sight–
–and slipped, head-over-heels, falling hard into a giant muddy puddle.
He lay there, soaking, his dress clothes ruined, his shoes wet and squeaky…and lifted his eyes to look at the door of the school.
He still had to go inside and complete his mission. Seriously?
Using every ounce of strength he had to fight off his massive embarrassment, he picked himself out of the puddle and opened the door to the school, found his way to the papers, and returned to the bus.
The giant yellow monster lurked in front of him, and his chest constricted. Water droplets collected at his wet cuffs and dripped to the ground.
And then, with a sigh, Fred stepped back onto the bus.
The entire class erupted in laughter.
Every single face…every single smile, every pair of eyes, every lung, every single vocal chord all worked together in a miraculous harmony to impress upon Fred the gravity of the mistake he’d made. A slow warmth crept up his neck, grabbing onto his face, not letting him look away.
He handed the papers to the teacher and settled back into a seat. And eventually, the day just kind of…blurred away. As time does to so many things.
But the memory of that puddle? Well, it’s still crystal-clear.
Fred Goodall is the owner of the successful blog Mocha Dad, a site that provides stories and resources to help men be better fathers, mentors, and husbands.
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