Remember Wednesday Addams from the old T.V. show The Addams Family? Her clone was riding my bus. There before me, on her first day, stood a pretty little first grader, long dark hair, and an emotionless expression. I said, “Good morning!” She looked at me, blinked, turned, and walked down the aisle to be seated. As she left the bus I said, “Have a great day!” She paused long enough to cut her eyes my way, without moving her head, and then exited the bus. The voice inside my head said, “Challenge accepted.” As each day passed I would tell her how pretty she looked or how glad I was to see her. Each was rewarded with the same stoic expression. Then one day I made a joke about where she would play when she got home. She looked at me with those dark eyes and just stared. “Well,” I said, “I saw that your parents were having a yard sale. If they sell your yard where will you play?” Then it happened, instead of the same emotionless stare, she rolled her eyes as she walked off the bus and said, “It’s just an expression. They don’t sell the yard.” Be it ever so small there was a crack in the dam and a droplet of emotion had squeezed through. Each day the onslaught of complements and corny jokes continued. One afternoon, as we pulled up to her house, her mother was out watering some flowers. Held in one arm was her baby brother and in the other hand her mother was holding a water hose. In a panicked voice I said, “Is she going to hose that baby off right out here in the yard?” I opened the bus door and as she descended the steps I actually heard and audible snicker. The crack was now wider and the droplet was now a steady stream. Over time with persistence the flow seemed to increase ounce by precious ounce. Then during the last week of school as the bus came to a stop in front of her house she said, “Here” and she handed me a red pipe cleaner that had been made into what I took as a bracelet. “It’s the best circle that I could make,” she said. There was even a half smile on her face, well maybe a quarter smile. The flood gates were open, and all the seemingly futile moments that we had shared over the months were all wrapped up in a red pipe cleaner bracelet. At that moment I wouldn’t have traded it for one of solid gold. The people that you meet each day they all have a red pipe cleaner bracelet. Some wear it on their wrist for all to see and give it easily, with others it’s often hidden and takes time and effort for it to be revealed. Best of all, some of those red pipe cleaner bracelets will turn out to be gold bracelets in disguise.