DELAWARE UNDER COVER
Delaware became a high schooler to the nth degree long before she had a clue what that meant. Her math and physics teacher had a knowledgeable hunch that this girl was going places far beyond the average person in the room. He made sure to remind her at every opportunity to keep up and not give up. In her shyness, she could only smile, and nod to thank him for his confidence in her abilities. She never, ever, made herself the center of any conversation or the one to be singled out in class with having the right answer, which she always had without fail. Some days were so obvious especially in her physics class. The instructor would present a complicated question about something so simple in her mind. But she kept quiet to let others attempt the outcome. After class, her instructor would, on occasion, motion for her to stay. He grinned and asked, “You knew all along how this was going to end. Right?” Delaware shrugged and smiled her answer.
Her family always knew and told her that she was gifted, but those ‘presents’ were ones she kept wrapped up and only for her to open on occasion. Math and science, physics and engineering, were the cast of characters in her quiet world. She called on them at all times and they pulled through with an insurmountable level of learned knowledge and a sure fire way to offer a solution to a problem. Sometimes, it was an unavoidable predicament, when she was asked in class to respond and she presented her answer with as few words as possible. She kept a quiet demeanor with an unassumingly soft manner at all times towards the others in the classroom. A note to the teacher after class seemed the best way for her to not be rude. Then there were the others in the room who brashly took center stage with bravado, because they could, and with that claim to fame, ran with it. If she was like them in the real world, that she so dreamed of one day, then she would step up and challenge them to a ‘battle of the brains’. But, for now, she stayed stuck in her chair while certain ones flashed their popularity badges, as a reminder to one and all, who the most important person was in the room. If Delaware stood up to the minions, what a day that would be!
There were only a few friends who really knew the real Delaware. She was happy with those girls because they were the same. No show offs or big pretenders, just real people. Sometimes at lunchtime they would try to get her to speak up over the chatter in the room to let everyone hear her speech of the day. “Please, please, please!” they prompted her but it was so out of character that she told them that was not her, and she couldn’t stoop to that level. Delaware did promise her friends, that maybe someday soon, she would have the guts to be loud and proud. That would really be something. Something that she could leave behind before the year ended and to change the way others looked to her, at her, and spoke about her in the background with the others.
Today was the last day of the school week and Delaware was counting down the minutes for the sound of the bell to signify the end of the day, the week and the month, in that order. She couldn’t wait to get to her job and the new offer they asked her to take the lead in.
Her real joy and happy place was as a volunteer in a position that she happened upon a year ago. Her family took her for a surprise birthday visit and outing. It was a mystery ride that took them just outside the city. As soon as they arrived, Delaware was smitten with the place. The sign said it all; Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. She was so happy and in awe, and couldn’t have been more excited to visit. She stuttered for a moment in pure joy and tried to think of the best way to thank her parents. They could see her personality change and hoped that this would be a day to remember. How did they know? Delaware wanted to ask. This was a treasure beyond anything she had ever received. Animals were her passion; drawing their pictures, and reading so many stories and books with animals as the main characters. The world was opening up to her happy place.
They exited the car, and before proceeding to the gate, Delaware threw her arms around her Mom and Dad. She sniffled a bit and whispered a quiet thank you. They looked to one another, then to their daughter, smiled, and knew this was it. This would make a difference in her life.
Back to the moment and the school bell rang. The door opened and a crowd of students, quite thankful the day was over, stampeded out. The mini-van, and her ride to the Ark, was always parked away from the entrance. No one seemed aware, even with the logo on the side, of her stepping inside the vehicle or if they did, it was of no big deal because no one asked, since most were too busy on their phones. Talking their ears off about where she spent her off time would be her new claim to fame, when and if that day ever came.
The driver, who always chatted with her and made her feel special, dropped her off at the front gate and she skipped into the main building, so happy to be here! She waved to security and they gave her a thumbs up to proceed and she happily went to change into her work outfit. A quick look in the mirror and off she went to find her mentor, Jody, and the job assignment of the day.
“Someone seems very happy today!” Delaware couldn’t contain her bright mood and answered with glee, “YES, I am!” Jody asked her to have a seat while she went over the latest and newest and currently the most asked about event.
“Delaware,” she began, “I have something to offer and I know you’re a good fit. What would you say about working with Picasso, our Bengal Tiger?” The information Jody presented was beyond an exciting moment for Delaware. She knew she needed to be quiet for a moment and nodded in understanding her role. Did Jody know of her passion with animals as she drew them in her daily journal and the tons of books she’s read with illustrations of every animal on the planet?
“Before we proceed, please go on your walk about to see which animals need food and water. If you notice anything else, please make a note of it.”
As she busied herself with filling their needs, Delaware could not keep quiet. The animals were her best friends who showed no judgment to her at all. Well, only if she had treats for them and took too long to toss them.
Each alpaca, sheep, goat, miniature pony and potbellied pig had a name. She made sure she addressed each one, because by now she had a loyal following and most of them knew their names and would come when called. Well, except for the potbellied pig. His name was Sir Galahad and it seemed he would not come to the call of a lowly peasant, even one with a treat. He only snorted, digging a new hole in the dirt and tossed the used tire a few times, reminding everyone of his regal upbringing.
The conversations she had with them were priceless. She could only imagine what they thought of humans when they visited and wandered around the sanctuary.
Alpacas: “Hey, man, got any weed? Been needing some more to make my day!”
Sheep: “I only want to pull the wool over your eyes! Heh, heh.”
Goats: “Ask me no questions, or I’ll butt you to the sky!”
Miniature Ponies: “Don’t even ask me if I provide an UBER service. Sheesh!”
Potbellied Pig: “To be or not to be, that is my question as thou am more noble than you!”
She finished her chores and went to visit with Picasso. They had a very intense conversation, growled, and together came up with a plan. She would set up an area, visible from a distance for visitors as it would be a work area for the artist. Flinging paint was his game.
And so it began. Picasso drew visitors and tourists from far and wide who took were in awe seeing the amazing art pieces created by a tiger! It was only one way that the sanctuary used creative means to garner donations. As the summer months brought more and more people, news media and TV people wanted to contribute their advertising ways to aid the cause and bring more awareness of the need for donation help. Jody asked Delaware to be prepared for this to happen. And that’s when she panicked. Her old self was now in competition with her new self. Before this was to happen, the two worked together to offset a potential setback. Jody totally got this young person’s vibe and they came up with a clever way to get around this moment.
The news vehicles arrived and set up their cameras and lights. The animals were on edge with the attention of this caliber of noise. But it took a calm Delaware calling out each of their names to start this new adventure, with her mentor following behind, only to provide moral support if necessary.
As cameras followed along, walking the various areas of Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, the news person would ask questions and the answers would be as if answered straight from the animal’s mouths. It was hysterically funny, yet serious in the answers to those questions. The pressure was off and the final question to end the moment was asked straight to Delaware and not an animal.
“What makes you want to help these animals when you could be doing something else?”
All lights were on her and a moment of silence hung in the air. She could have gone on and on about her life and the ones who made her feel insignificant or pushed her aside over and over to reach a higher branch, but instead, she smiled and said, “Because animals make us human.”