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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Write something suitable for CHILDREN (05/31/07)

TITLE: A Little Dab of Soap
By Sandra Petersen


Momma was fond of saying, “A little dab of soap will get anything clean.” I never realized how important each word of that statement was until last Saturday.

Momma called me to the kitchen that morning. She was dressed in her Sunday best. As she knelt in front of me to look into my eyes, I knew she was about to say something she wanted me to remember.

“Devin, I have to go to church and help the ladies serve at Mr. Jenkins’ funeral. This is the first time I’ve left you alone at home but I think at nine years you’re old enough that I can trust you.”

I nodded, only half listening.

“Now because I can trust you, I know you’ll stay inside and not make a mess.” She cupped my chin in her hand and smiled. “Right?”

I nodded again, imagining all the fun I was going to have.

She tied a scarf over her hair and kissed the top of my head. I squirmed. Commander Devin Dawson was too grown up to be kissed by his mother!

“If you need anything, you can call Mrs. Victorio next door and she’ll come right over. You know her phone number.”

As soon as the door closed and the car started, I raced to my bedroom. Flopping onto my belly beside my bed, I reached under as far as I could. I held my breath as I dragged out my box of army guys and a few dirty socks besides. Who knew socks could be that stinky? Next stop was my closet floor where my tanks and planes were stationed from the last time I played with them.

With my arms full, I could hardly get the kitchen door open. I piled my army equipment beside the patch of dirt that my mother had smoothed out the day before. I worked at the earth, pushing it into little hills and valleys, then positioned my army men in different areas of the battlefield. Not until after the first battle did I notice the muddy bulbs scattered here and there on the patch of dirt. Why did Momma have to use every available play area in the yard for her flowers?

I went to get some laundry soap so the bulbs would be clean when I replanted them. My army guys could stand a good washing, too. I sprinkled about a cup of soap over the bulbs and army equipment, then unwound the garden hose from its coiled position by the outdoor faucet.

I turned the thingy to get the water flowing, but the water seemed to be stuck in the pipes. I twisted it until it wouldn’t turn anymore. Then I remembered that Momma always did something with the end of the hose to get the water to spray. Those bulbs were so dirty I figured I had better turn the nozzle all the way. Water shot out of that hose like it was from a fireman’s water cannon. Bulbs and army men flew in all directions when the spray hit them and within seconds Momma’s flower bed was a pool overflowing with suds. Sparkly bubbles floated into the air and popped on the lawn. I scrambled to collect Momma’s bulbs in one pile, then ran in the house to get a towel to sop up the soap.

Mrs. Victorio was standing there when I returned. Her gentle blue eyes always reminded me of the wallpaper color in the doctor’s office. Those wallpaper blue eyes were looking first at me, then at the pile of bulbs as she waited for me to speak.

“I didn’t mean to, Mrs. Victorio,” I stammered as I finished explaining.

She didn’t say a word but knelt on the ground and began to dig new holes for Momma’s bulbs. I knelt, too, trying not to let my tears out. Commander Devin Dawson was not a crybaby.

“Hand me those bulbs, one by one, and we’ll see if we can repair this accident.” I loved Mrs. Victorio with all my heart at that moment. Together, we replanted the bulbs and she promised not to tell Momma. “I was young once, too, you know,” she confessed with a tiny smile.

One forgotten army man waist-deep in garden soil gave away our secret. But by then Momma found she could trust me to stay home alone because I had learned my lesson.

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This article has been read 1145 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Sharlyn Guthrie06/07/07
Cute story, but I especially love your portryal of the neighbor. What a picture of grace!
Dee Yoder 06/07/07
I also like the neighbor! Every boy could use an understanding lady like her in his life...especially the adventuresome boys!
Joanne Sher 06/08/07
Love the neighbor, AND your MC. He seemed perfectly characterized for his age and gender.
Amy Michelle Wiley 06/09/07
Haha, great story! Love it.
Jan Ackerson 06/11/07
This was delightful! I grinned all the way through it. I believe I may have ended it one sentence sooner, but that's purely opinion. It's quite charming and never goes exactly where I expected it to go.
Betty Castleberry06/11/07
This is one of those sweet stories that won't soon be forgotten. I think I would have preferred a little more showing and a little less telling, but it didn't really take away from the story.
I agree with the other posters that the neighbor is a gem. Very well done.
Verna Cole Mitchell 06/11/07
I loved Commander Devin Dawson--I had one just like him once as long time ago! A delightful story.
Janice Fitzpatrick06/11/07
Love this! Wonderful story! I sure can relate as my middle son sounds alot like this little guy.Grin. Great story of a lesson learned. I agree with what was mentioned before, that his neighbor could have easily given him a scolding and told on him, but her reaction and assistance ministered to him and taught him more than if she would have done otherwise. Let's show the grace of the Lord more ourselves.:0) Thx for the lesson.God bless,Janice
Kristen Hester06/13/07
This was so much fun. I can just picture the little boy with the army toys. My son loves to play with his army toys and always makes a mess with the water hose. Very real. Great job!
Rita Garcia06/13/07
Love the gift-wrapped message, a lesson worth embracing for both the young...and not-so-young!
Jacquelyn Horne06/13/07
I was a little worried about him being home alone at nine. But I guess the neighbor was keeping a good eye out. Other than that, this was a great story. And the neighbor was special.