Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: The Garden Party
By Shirley McClay
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“Did you hear what happened to Viola last week?”
“Isn’t Jason the most handsome…..”
The tittering gossip wafted around Rebecca until she at last surrendered to her restlessness. Rising gracefully from the picnic blanket, she dumped her lukewarm lemonade and made her way over to the refreshment table. Her friends didn’t even notice her departure.
As the servant handed her a fresh glass of icy hand-squeezed lemonade, she noticed Peter striding away from where his little sister now sat alone. Her heart skipped a beat as it always did at the sight of him, but he treated her with only an aloof courtesy.
She turned to rejoin her friends, but her restlessness stirred again as she noticed that they were now entertaining some of the young men. She meandered over to little Anna.
“May I join you, Anna?” She marveled at the way the sun brought out glints of red in her sparrow brown hair. Peter’s hair was the same.
“I am not supposed to talk with you.” The words sank deeply into her heart and she nearly walked away.
“Why aren’t you supposed to talk with me?” She struggled to keep her voice even.
“Not just you. All of them.” Anna waved a hand at the girls laughing daintily and sipping the drinks the men had brought.
Rebecca sat beside Anna. “Maybe I could stay until your brother returns?”
“Peter says that friends are a “flection” of you. He wants me to choose friends that help me become more like Jesus.” Her childish gaze penetrated.
“Who are your friends, Anna?” The group on the other blanket rose to play some party games with their escorts. Their chatter sounded oddly like hens in the vegetable garden.
“Maude is one of my friends, but she wasn’t feeling well today.”
“Maude? Isn’t it …. difficult… to play with someone who is…” Rebecca swallowed uncomfortably.
“Not at all. Her daddy carries her out and sets her on a blanket near the roses. We make daisy chains and I catch bugs to show her.” Anna laughed loudly with delight. “He also pushes her wheeled chair down the pathway and we explore the garden. Some days we have tea parties with our dolls in her playroom. “
Rebecca sat silently gazing at her own “friends” playing croquet and shamelessly using their attractive figures to their full advantage. Anna noticed her gaze but continued.
“Elisa is one of my friends, too. I can’t go to her house but she comes to mine. Her mommy and daddy don’t love Jesus and sometimes they do things that her hurt Elisa. She was hard to get to know ‘cause she doesn’t talk much. My brother says it’s because Elisa is afraid of being hurt even more. So I talked to her lots. Now she talks more. She tells me sad things sometime and we cry and hug. Then we play some more.”
They both smiled as a beautiful Monarch butterfly lit on the edge of Anna’s glass. “Peter calls her Butterfly, ‘cause he watched her come out of her cocoon.”
“Who else is your friend?” Rebecca tucked a blond curl behind her ear as a breeze swept across the expansive estate. She didn’t even notice the sounds of the party drifting by them.
“Deborah is fun to play with too.”
“But, she is poor. Your brother allows such a friendship?”
“Peter says that poor just means that there is something you lack. She doesn’t lack anything important! In fact, I gave her one of my dolls when I found out she didn’t have one, but she gave it to her little sister. She said she has lots of baby sisters and brothers to cuddle.”
They sat quietly for a time, each reflecting on their collection of friends.
“I’m afraid I am the one who is poor. If your friends show what kind of person you are, then you must be a very special person indeed. Would you help me, Anna dear? I need to choose new friends that would make it possible for me to become the girl that God wants me to be.” Rebecca smiled at Anna in spite of the tears trickling down her cheeks.
A few feet away, Peter stepped from behind the huge oak tree and walked toward his sister and the girl he had loved since childhood. He had witnessed another butterfly emerge from its ugly cocoon.
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