Jenny sat in the idling car, drumming her fingers on the steering wheel and trying not to be annoyed.
It wasn’t working.
She was supposed to be picking up Bethany from art class since it was right on her way home from soccer practice. But every Wednesday, it was exactly the same.
Soccer practice ended at 4:30. Then Jenny would rush away from her friends and the various discussions they would have recapping the day’s significant people and events because Bethany’s class got over at 5:00. She would arrive promptly at 4:50.
And she would wait.
Sometimes Bethany wouldn’t come out to the car until 5:15 or later. Last Wednesday, Jenny had waited until 5:30 when she finally turned off the car, went inside and found her younger sister. Bethany had been shooting the breeze with another student; she hadn’t even gathered her stuff yet. Arms crossed and lips rigid, standing just inside the door, Jenny had waited until Bethany saw her before gesturing towards the car with her head. Her silent command had been all too clear, Let’s go now.
Guiltily, Bethany had gathered her things quickly and followed Jenny to the car. When she had started to explain, Jenny cut her off. “I don’t really want to hear it, Beth. I can’t stand that you absolutely ignore that I’m waiting for you every week. Why should you get to talk to your friends when I can’t talk to mine because I have to come get you? I am sick of waiting for you. Don’t let it happen again.”
Bethany had stared out the windshield without responding. Jenny knew she was trying not to cry, but she didn’t care. She just hoped Bethany had learned her lesson.
And now, a week later, she was still sitting here in her running car, waiting. It was nearly 5:10, and still no Bethany. Jenny could feel herself getting angrier. She won’t like it if I have to go in there this week, she told herself. She waited five more minutes. And still, no little sister.
Finally, Jenny shut down the car and angrily threw her keys in her purse. She slammed the door shut and headed towards the building. She stepped inside, scanning the room for her little sister, and nearly ran into Mrs. Martin, Bethany’s art teacher.
“Hi, Jenny! How are you?”
“Fine, Mrs. Martin.” Jenny kept her voice from wavering. “Have you seen Bethany? We need to get going.”
“Oh, of course. She’s helping Samantha Jones get her things together. Everyone else tends to scamper out as quickly as they can, but Bethany very patiently makes sure Sam is all taken care of before she leaves. It’s really quite kind of her.”
Just then, Bethany and Sam came around a corner, their bookbags and coats in hand. It was the same little girl that Jenny had seen Bethany talking to last week, except this time, she got a much closer look. And then Jenny recognized who she was.
Samantha Jones had been born prematurely and with Downs Syndrome, and she struggled with a number of other health issues, as well. Bethany and her mom had talked about Sam on a number of occasions, but Jenny had never paid close attention.
Jenny realized Mrs. Martin was talking again.
“Sam’s mom can’t get here until 5:15 or 5:30, so Bethany waits with Sam so she doesn’t have to be alone. Sam’s mom has mentioned many times how much Bethany helps her.”
Jenny just nodded as the girls approached. She looked at her sister and smiled slightly.
“You ready to go?”
Bethany nodded. They said good-bye to Mrs. Martin and to Sam and headed to the car.
They were exiting the parking lot when Jenny finally spoke. “So, maybe next week, I’ll just come inside when I get here and wait with you and Sam. What do you think?”
Bethany grinned at her big sister. “I’d like that a lot. And so would Sam.”
Jenny grinned back and, for the first time, Wednesdays were something to look forward to.
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