Lily and Bret

Lome Louw

Illustration: Helena van der Nest

It is springtime and Lily is very excited. Today her swimming lessons resume after a long winter. She is also excited to see Bret again.

Bret is disabled. His right leg was amputated when he was a little boy and since then he has been using crutches. He is Lily’s best friend at the swimming class.

“Hello Bret!” shouts Lily as she arrives at the pool. She almost hugs him off his one leg! He starts chasing her with his crutches.

Lily sees some new children arriving at the pool. The way they look at Bret irritates her. She feels sorry for him when people stares at him like they do. He is extremely fit and always gives his best. She doesn’t see him as disabled. He always wins when they compete! The best of all is that he is always friendly and shares everything.

Bret sees the new children as well and stops playing to greet them. “Good afternoon, my name is Bret. You are new. Let me show you where the toilets and changing rooms are. Lily also greets them, but not with the same friendliness. She doesn’t want to mix with children who think Bret is different

“Why are you so grumpy with the new children, Lily?” asks Bret.

“I don’t like it when they look at you like that. I am sure they think you cannot swim and feel sorry for you. I wish people can see you the way I do. You will always be my swim hero, Bret.”

Bret laughs.  “Do you remember how I became your hero, Lily?”

Lily laughs as well. “Was I like these children?”

“You were worse!!  You also felt sorry for me when you came for your first swimming lesson. You also looked at me in a funny way, as these children did. You didn’t even want to talk to me! I don’t think it is bad to feel sorry for disabled people, but I think you learnt an important lesson that day. You have learnt that it is not only disabled people who need others, but all people need each other – even if they have two legs!”

The new children came out of the changing rooms. Lily starts talking: “I saw the way you looked at Bret. The first time I came here, I thought Bret couldn’t swim. He played with another friend the same way as we played here today.  Accidently the other one bumped him and he fell into the pool. I had such a fright that I jumped in to rescue him, but I could not swim yet and in the end it was Bret who rescued me! He will always be my swimming hero. You don’t need to feel sorry for him. He will win you all in the pool!”  

The new children are much better that Lily thought at first. She sees their admiration for Bret’s swimming talent.

It is time to get out. Lily walks to the lane in which Bret swims. She always gives him his crutches, because it is difficult for him to get out without help. The new children join them and they walk chat-chat to the changing rooms.  

Lily is glad it is spring! Glad she can swim again and that she will see Bret and her new friends every week. Bret taught her today to be friendly to all. If it were not for him, she would not have made new friends today!


41 Hospital Street, Arcadia, 0083
PO BOX 40526, Arcadia, 0007
012 325 3920
084 383 9417

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