“Oh no!” Mom cried. Smoke poured from the oven, filling the kitchen.
Kendall ran over to the window and pushed it up. “It stinks!” She cried, holding her nose between her fingers.
Mom slipped the oven mitt over her hand and pulled down the door. More of the black, stinky smoke poured out. Mom coughed, waving her hand to try and clear some of the smoke.
“Mom! What happened?” Nine-year old Kendall asked.
The smoke began to clear. “I think it was that timer again,” she said between coughs. Mom slid the tray out and put it on the kitchen counter.
Kendall’s face dropped when she saw it. The turkey was completely black, inside and out. “Now what are we going to do?”
Mom slumped against the counter. “I have no idea, honey. Maybe we could just do cold cuts for this Thanksgiving?”
“But Mom! We always have turkey!” Kendall walked out of the kitchen, a little sad. Every year, Thanksgiving was a big deal for their family. Grandma and Granddad came over, and so did Aunt Winnie and Uncle Terrance, and she gagged just thinking about it: her cousin Glen. Glen was the biggest brat in the world, and unfortunately, his parents didn’t get the picture.
The doorbell rang.
“I’ll get it!” Kendall yelled.
She hurried to the door. It had to be Grandma. She always came early for Thanksgiving dinner. Without bothering to peer through the peep-hole, Kendall threw open the door.
“Grand-” She stopped short. Standing in front of her was a man, dressed in dirty, ragged clothes. Kendall’s eyes grew wide. Who was this guy?
The man leaned down to look in Kendall’s blue eyes. “So, what’s your name, sweetie?”
Kendall wrinkled up her nose. The man’s breath stunk. “I’m… Kendall. Who are you?”
“Just a friend. Can I come in?”
Kendall wasn’t sure what to do. Of course he couldn’t come in. She didn’t even know who this was.
“Kendall! Who’s at the door?” Mom called from the kitchen.
The man stepped forward and inside. He put a finger to his lips. “This can be our secret, Kendall, okay? I’m just going to look around a little.”
Kendall panicked. What was this guy doing? She didn’t know what to do.
Mom walked into the living room. “Kendall- Excuse me! What do you think you’re doing in my house?”
The man grabbed Kendall and pulled her close. He slid a knife out of his pocket and held it up to her.
She screamed. “Mom! Don’t let him hurt me!”
“Don’t come any closer lady, or this girl gets it. I want you to bring me all the jewelry and money you got in the house. And we’re going to follow you so you don’t try anything smart.”
Mom turned around and started walking down the hallway to her bedroom. Kendall and the man followed behind. She wished her dad was there. He would have taken care of this. But Dad was gone… picking up her aunt and uncle at the airport.
They all went into Mom and Dad’s room. Mom began to empty her jewelry box onto the bed.
“And the money. Don’t forget it.” The man held the knife close to Kendall’s neck. Tears sprung up at her eyes.
The man jostled her about. “No crying.”
Kendall tried to suck it in.
Mom pulled out her purse from under the bed and put a thin stack of bills on the bed as well.
A greedy look jumped into the man’s eyes. His grip loosened on Kendall. Should she make a break for it? He leaned down to pick up the jewelry and bills.
Kendall slipped out from under his elbow, and raced over to her mom’s side.
“Hey!” The man moved around towards them both.
They backed up into the wall by the bathroom. Mom shoved Kendall inside. She ducked in, and slammed the door.
The man grabbed the handle on the other side, trying to twist it open. Mom desperately tried to keep it steady and lock it.
“The window!” Mom hissed. “Get help!”
Kendall stood on top of the toilet and pushed out the window. She squeezed through the small opening, as Mom succeeded in locking the door. The ground looked a long ways down, but Kendall jumped and landed in a bush outside the window.
Picking herself out of the leaves and branches, she raced down the side of the house.
The man appeared around the corner. “Hey, hey, hey!” He said as he staggered towards her.
She backed away and ran to the backyard. Kendall loved climbing trees, and there was a great tree that hung over their neighbor’s backyard. Maybe she could drop down over there…?
Kendall ran to the tree and scrambled up. The man was right behind her. He grabbed her leg. Kendall jerked it upward, trying to escape, but the man started pulling her downward.
She kicked at his hand with her other foot, and loosened his grip for a moment. She climbed upward as he jumped to try and grab her foot again. He got hold of her shoe which slipped off her foot.
Crawling along the branch, Kendall said a desperate prayer. Please help, us, Jesus.
She dropped into the neighbor’s yard and ran screaming up to their back door.
Miss Attby had been sitting in her back porch swing, reading a book when she saw Kendall running to her. “What’s the matter?”
“Mrs. Attby! There’s a man over in my backyard, and my mom’s in the bathroom, and he tried to rob us! Call the police, please!”
They hurried inside and called. In minutes, they could hear sirens screeching outside Kendall’s house.
Mom came out of the bathroom and hugged Kendall tight. Dad pulled up with Aunt Winnie and Uncle Terrance and Glen.
There was no sight of the man.
Kendall was just glad they were safe again.
Later, gathered around the table, eating cold cut sandwiches, Kendall told the whole story. The phone interrupted her.
Mom got it. “Yes, that’s him. Thank you, officer.”
She hung up. “That was the police. They caught the guy down a street or two. They said he was drunk and barely able to stand.”
Kendall let a sigh of relief out. “Thank You, God,” she whispered.
“What was that, Kendall?” Mom asked.
“Oh, I was just thinking about our turkey.”
Mom smiled. “And…?”
“And how it was overdone. Well, I guess we were almost cooked too.”
This story kept my interest all the way through and I thought it was well written and well paced. I was however a little disappointed by the ending - it just seemed an anti-climax for some reason. I guess I was expecting something that surprised the reader more, or made him think. But on the whole I enjoyed it.