Be careful how you answer!

Prompt: The frown on her face and the wrinkles on her forehead told me I was in big trouble.

I let the screen door slam behind me and hollered, "Hi Mom, I'm home."

"Up here," she answered.

"Two, four, six, eight," I counted the stairs as I took them two at a time.

Mom was standing at the top of the stairs with her hands on her hips. The frown on her face and the wrinkles on her forehead told me I was in big trouble.

"James Joshua Johnston," she said slowly between clenched teeth. "Do you have any idea what I found in your room today?"

Now, how's a kid supposed to answer that? I had several things in mind, but if none of them were the thing she had found, I could be in much worse trouble than I apparently was already.

"No, ma'am," I said, hanging my head in what I thought might be the appropriate response for a repentant child.

"Think, young man," she said, "Think hard."

I was thinking - so hard that my thoughts were whirling around in my head like a tornado. My palms began to sweat and I felt my throat closing up. Had she found my stash of fireworks? The cigarette I'd swiped from Dad in case I ever got up the nerve to try smoking? The almost naked picture of a movie star?

"Uhhhh," I stalled.

"Ants! That's what I found, Joshua, ants!" she yelled. "How many times do I have to tell you not to take food into your bedroom?"

Ants? She had found ants? I couldn't help it, I started laughing. Just a snicker at first, but the more I tried to hold it in the bigger it got until it burst past my lips right in my mom's face.

I was grounded for the rest of the week, but I didn't mind a bit!

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)

Debra, De-brat!

Today's prompt from Wake Up Your Muse:
She fingered the ivory rosette broach.


Debra, De-brat!

I fingered the ivory rosette broach, remembering the day my grandmother had promised it to me.

"Tilly," she had said, "when I'm gone on to heaven, I want you to have this broach. It was a gift to me from your father."

I wished that she had given it to me then. That way my step-sister wouldn't have it laying here in her jewelry box among a tangle of junk jewelry. It didn't mean anything to her. My father was not her father. The only reason she had it was because she had whined to Ellen, my step-mother that as the oldest daughter, she should get it. She only wanted it to keep me from having it and I hated her for that!

I turned the broach over in my hand and read the inscription on the back just as I had done a hundred other times. "To Mama, my first love." Grandma had been Daddy's first love, then my mother and then me. Ellen had come later after my mother died and along with her came Debra. (I secretly called her De-brat!)

"What are you doing in my room?"

I turned to see my nemesis standing in the doorway with her hands on her hips. Someone should tell her that mini-skirts make hips look really wide.

I closed my fingers around the broach and put it behind my back.

"Nothing," I said.

"Well, get out!" said De-brat, jerking her thumb over her shoulder.

I hadn't meant to take the broach. I just didn't know how to get it back into her jewelry box without setting her off, so I kept it hidden in my hand as I brushed past her, pausing only long enough to stick my tongue out at her when she slammed the door behind me.

I slammed the door to my own bedroom, then leaned against it and opened my hand to see Grandma's broach had pressed the outline of a rosette into my palm.

It felt good to have the broach. Somehow it seemed like I had a piece of my father back. I missed him so. He had been gone for three years. Nine years old is too young to lose your father. I didn't even remember my mother, although I knew from the pictures under my mattress (the ones that Ellen hadn't destroyed), that she was beautiful.

I wanted to keep the broach, but I knew that De-brat would eventually discover it missing and tell Ellen, then I'd get about a million things added to my chore list. WWJD, I asked myself…what would Jesus do?

I guess I knew the answer to that question before I even asked it.

I crossed the hall to my step-sister's door and knocked. When she flung the door open I was standing there holding the broach out to her in my open hand.

"I'm sorry, I took this. I didn't mean to. I just wanted to look at it." I muttered.

And then the oddest thing happened. De-brat shrugged her shoulders and said, "Keep it. I don't know what you want that old piece of junk for anyway." Then she slammed the door in my face again.

It was mine! My grandmother's broach was finally mine…and all because I had done the right thing.

"Thank you, Debra." I called through the closed door. And thank you, I said to Jesus, knowing that it was He who had prompted Debra to give me the broach. Maybe she wasn't so bad after all.

I wondered how many other ways Jesus could make Debra nice if I just kept doing the right thing. That would be funny! He could turn her into a nice person whether she liked it or not if I just kept treating her the way he wanted me to.

"I'll do it!," I said out loud.

"Get away from my door, you little creep!" Debra yelled.

"Boy do you have a lot of work to do, Jesus" I thought.

(Copyright © 2010, 2011 Jan Christiansen. All rights reserved.)