Ready or Not

    “Ready or Not,” Friend, Oct. 1995, 2

    Ready or Not

    This poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living (Mark 12:43–44).

    Laura slid her feet daintily into Mother’s out-of-fashion high heels—her glass slippers—straightened the cardboard crown on her head, and twirled past the mirror to see if the old chiffon gown made her look like Cinderella.

    “I’m just not sure about the shoes.” She frowned into the mirror. “They’re so clunky and so … so purple!”

    “This is Halloween, not a grand ball,” Mother laughed. “Besides, if your shoes fall off while you’re trick-or-treating tonight, you’ll be even more like Cinderella. Now get a move on. Tammy insisted on going early tonight, so she’ll be here to pick you up at any minute.”

    As Laura dabbed some of Mother’s makeup on her face—wearing lipstick and eye shadow was the best thing about Halloween—she thought of her new friend.

    Tammy had recently moved to town. Everyone in school knew that she lived in the run-down duplexes on Horne Street, and though she was always clean and neat, her clothes looked worn and plain.

    Sister Kerby, Laura’s Valiant teacher, had challenged the girls in her class to do missionary work. After prayerfully considering the names of several friends at school, Laura was impressed to get to know Tammy better, in hopes of introducing the gospel to her. She seems nice enough, thought Laura. Even though her family is poor, it won’t hurt me to be her friend.

    Laura’s exuberance and Tammy’s gentleness proved a winning combination. Every day the two girls rode bikes, climbed trees, or baked their all-time favorite—chocolate chip cookies. Laura’s attic was their retreat. There they munched countless cookies, solved world problems, and shared innermost dreams.

    But sharing a cookie is sure easier than sharing the gospel, Laura thought to herself now as she whisked a little blush across her cheeks. She wondered if she would ever have the courage to talk to Tammy about her beliefs.

    “The gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift you can give,” Sister Kerby had said. “You must listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost so that you will know when the time is right to invite Tammy to church. Be a good example, and she will want to hear about the gospel.” Laura wondered if the “right time” would ever come!

    The doorbell rang. That has to be Tammy. Laura quickly brushed her thoughts aside and sprinkled a pinch of glitter in her hair.

    Scurrying down the hall to open the door for her friend, Laura could feel the soft flutter of chiffon around her ankles. She wondered what Tammy would be wearing. Her family probably doesn’t have money for costumes and makeup.

    “Wow—you look gorgeous!” Tammy squealed when she saw Laura.

    “And you look … crazy,” Laura laughed, poking at Tammy’s homemade paper-bag pumpkin costume. “We’re a real pair! I guess I’m Cinderella and you’re my coach.”

    “Got your treat bags?” Mom asked.

    “Here’s mine!” Tammy grinned, holding it high.

    “That’s huge!” Laura exclaimed, a little embarrassed by the size. “It looks like a pillowcase.”

    “It is,” giggled Tammy. “And I plan to fill it right to the top. I love Halloween!”

    Laura smiled weakly, relieved that her parents had bought the pretty plastic trick-or-treat bag she held.

    “Off with you then,” Mother said, giving them a wink and shooing them out the door.

    After an hour of running from house to house, Laura’s patience with her clumsy “glass slippers” wore thin.

    “Let’s quit, Tammy,” she panted, as they rounded yet another corner. “Honestly, I can hardly keep up with you. And just look at all this candy!”

    Tammy stopped. Her usually serene eyes suddenly sparkled with mischief. “The real fun is just beginning,” she whispered breathlessly.

    “Yeah, now we get to eat our loot!”

    “Oh no!” Tammy smiled. “The fun starts when you give your treats away.”

    Laura looked at Tammy in amazement.

    “You mean, you give all your candy away?”

    “Sure,” Tammy shrugged. “It’s still early. If I hurry home, I can be there to give out my treats to all the neighbor children who come trick-or-treating to my house. It’s fun!”

    Laura’s heart swelled with love for Tammy, who stood without guile before her in the homemade pumpkin costume. Laura wondered how she could ever have thought that money made one person richer or “better” than another. All these weeks she’d thought that she was preparing Tammy to receive the gospel—doing Tammy a favor by being her friend. She hadn’t taken time to notice that Tammy was ready and waiting for the gift; a gift she suddenly felt almost unworthy to give.

    “Can I come and help you hand out the Halloween treats?” Laura asked softly.

    “Sure!” Tammy smiled, slipping her arm through Laura’s as they walked toward Horne Street.

    “And while we’re giving out the candy,” Laura said with new resolve, “I have something precious to share with you, Tammy.”

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki