Heart Soap

     I like school, but I’m beginning to get the impression that school doesn’t like me.
I don’t fit in. I’m not popular. I’m not a brainiac. And I’m not especially talented at anything, yet. I’m still a kid just trying to figure out who I am. But nobody sees me and I always feel like a round peg in a square hole.
    Today my English teacher gave us an assignment to write a fantasy fiction short story. Immediately I thought of one thing…what if everyone were the same? No one would feel awkward and every one would be accepted. That’s a real fantasy.
    On the bus ride home and all evening, I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind. Ideas swirled around and around. When I took my nightly bath and washed my hair it hit me. Magic soap. So in my pjs with a towel on my wet hair, I immediately scribbled down my story.
    Once upon a time there was a poor woman with many children. Being of different ages, the children didn’t always get along. Even though she had no money, she insisted on cleanliness in her home and children. So she asked all her neighbors for the leftover bars of soap. The part that’s barely enough to use but enough to not throw away.  

   Taking pity on her situation, her kindly neighbors generously gave her their leftovers. She heated up all the different soaps in a pot, wafting all the aromas and fragrances into her home. Then she molded the hardened liquid with a cookie cutter of a heart, honoring the love and kindness in which they were given.

     When her children used the soap, they giggled at all the giant bubbles spilling out of the tub and threw them into the air with joy. They never saw so many bubbles from soap.

     The woman smiled, watching her children have so much fun. But suddenly she realized, as they frolicked and played, they were all getting along. No fighting or bickering.
    “It must be magic soap,” she said thinking the soap’s origin from the kind-heartedness of others made it special.
    Later that week, her eldest son came home with a black eye from a school bully fight. The mother had an idea. She wrapped one of the heart soaps and left it on the door of the bully’s house with a simple note that read…”love and kindness from a neighbor.”
     The next day the son reported the strangest thing to his mother. The bully was nice to him. But he didn’t know why.
     “The soap worked,” she grinned.
     Completely certain the soap would magically transform everyone to be kind to others, she spread the euphoria and put her happy children to work wrapping and delivering the heart soap to everyone in the village.
     As she strolled through the village the following day, she noticed the villagers were happy and carefree, smiling and waving to each other. Even the grocer and farmer who daily bicker over pricing, we’re laughing and shaking hands like best friends. She was amazed.
     From that moment on, everything changed. The villagers lived together without trouble or strife, thanks to the magical soap.

     When I read my story aloud in class, some kids silently smirked and a few scoffed out loud at the fanciful idea of the fairytale transformation of the community.
     I didn’t expect a standing ovation, but hoped the point of story would sink in. At least my teacher understood.

     “That’s a wonderful idea. Wouldn’t life be much happier if everyone was kind,” she smiled.
    She gave me a B+ on the paper and her thoughts made me feel better.
    But then the strangest thing happened. All day, kids in my class were nicer to each other. At lunch, two girls surprisingly asked me to sit with them. And when we had to partner up for a project, instead of waiting to be the last to be paired, another girl offered to be my partner right away. Suddenly I felt seen and enjoyed school that day for the first time.

     On the bus ride home, I wondered if the magic of my soap story washed my fellow students with compassion, consideration and humanity. Maybe it wouldn’t last, but at least one day, I went home smiling. And that’s something to be happy about.

(c) Suzanne Rudd 2022

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