“Gullible! You’re so gullible, Lisa Jean. Hey Johnny, I bet if I told Lisa Jean this here piece of chewing gum was found in President Kennedy’s mouth the day he was assassinated, she’d believe it, and even pay me 50 cents for it,” Susan said as she waved the glob of pink bazooka on her forefinger.
They’re right, Lisa Jean thought as the twig Tommy flipped into the air with the tip of his sneaker slipped through her fingers when she reached out to catch it.
She should have known that Tommy Johnson would never want someone like her to attend the eighth grade dance with him. When she found out that he’d only asked her on a dare she pretended it didn’t bother her. She even tossed her head back and laughed along with everyone. But her heart sank into the pit of her stomach just like it did the day she’d come home from school to find out her dog had been put to sleep.
What was wrong with me anyway, she wondered. Maybe she didn’t have the straightest teeth in the class and maybe her shirt hung a bit looser than the other girls who filled them out with their new gifts from God, but she was kind and smart and sweet as cherry pie. At least that’s what her aunt Mimi always said.
“So, what are ya doin’ this weekend?” Susan asked Lisa Jean.
“What do ya think I’m doing? Its Easter weekend. I’m gonna be helping my mama cook and then on Sunday we’re all going to church and afterwards to my Grandma’s house for Easter dinner.”
“What’s so special about Easter?” Susan asked.
“You’re jokin’, right?”
“No, I ain’t jokin’,” Susan said. “You get an Easter basket filled with candy when you’re a kid, but now ya get nothin’. It’s no different than any other day.”
“It’s not about the ‘Easter bunny’ it’s about the celebration of Jesus coming back to life,” Lisa Jean said, as she furrowed her brow wondering if Susan really meant what she said or was still mocking her for being gullible.
Johnny kicked another twig back over to Lisa Jean like they were playing soccer. “Aren’t you goin’ to church on Easter, Johnny?” Lisa Jean asked.
“Naah, we don’t go any other Sunday, why would we go on Easter?”
“To celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. If He never rose from the dead we’d all be going’ to Hell when we die.”
Susan kicked the twig across the street leaving them with nothing left to occupy their feet with as they continued strolling along the slated sidewalk. “You have to be really bad to go to Hell and I’m not that bad!” Susan said. “Anyway, where’d ya hear that story? Your Mama—your Grandma—your Grandma’s mama? It’s just a dumb old tale, and anyone who believes it is just plain old gullible!” She said, hands on her hips and her chin pushed out so far in front of her neck it looked like it would fall right off her face with one quick smack, Lisa Jean thought for just a minute. But she’d never take such an action and felt badly afterwards for letting visions like that cross her mind.
“I may be fooled into believing certain things are true that really aren’t from time-to-time and you can make fun of me for that if you want to, but this is different.”
“What’s so different about it?” Susan asked. “You believe in an old story that supposedly happened thousands of years ago to some guy just so you won’t go to Hell. That’s just plain crazy.”
Susan and Tommy looked at Lisa Jean differently than they had before. They acted as if they had no interest or belief, yet they still stared at her waiting for her to say something else in defense of her belief; and she did.
“Believing what you can’t see but your heart feels is called ‘faith.’ And if that makes me gullible, then I’m gullible for Jesus. Lisa Jean’s foot discovered another twig and she kicked it to Tommy and he kicked it over to Susan and she kicked it up into the air. Lisa Jean reached out with both her hands and caught it.
“I knew I’d catch that stick one day,” she said, and smiled.
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