“Candy Apples,” Friend, Apr. 2006, 38–39
Dewdrops hung on the tips of the long grass blades. Pam smiled as she made her way across the damp lawn. She loved early mornings in the country.
Stillness hung in the air. It was spring magic. She breathed in the sweet scent of lilacs. Everything was perfect.
One long, lonely howl filled the air.
“I’m coming, Lady,” Pam called, filling a bucket with water. She stepped inside the dog run and was immediately greeted by a wet tongue and happy barks. Trying to avoid Lady’s kisses, she filled the water bowl.
Suddenly, Lady ran to the gate of the dog run and barked.
Pam turned to see her best friend, Chuck, walking across the lawn.
“Hey,” he said. “You’re up early.” He reached over the fence to pet Lady. “My family’s going to an amusement park for the day, and Mom said we each could invite a friend. Do you want to go?”
Pam’s face lit up, but her smile soon faded. “I can’t. I promised Mom I’d watch my little brothers while she and Dad paint Grandma’s house.”
“Can’t someone else watch your brothers?”
She set the bucket down. “No.”
Chuck rubbed his chin. “Maybe your mom and dad could take them over to your grandma’s. Or maybe your grandma could watch them here.”
“It’s supposed to be a surprise for Grandma’s birthday,” Pam explained. “Dad took the day off from work so they could finish painting while Grandma’s staying with my sick aunt.”
“Oh.” Chuck’s smile disappeared. “I know it’s been a few years since you went to the amusement park. I thought it was a good idea.”
A sad smile crossed Pam’s face as she thought about the deep-red candy apples she loved, but wouldn’t be eating today. “It was a good idea. Thanks for inviting me.”
As Chuck said good-bye, Pam felt sad. No one had ever invited her to an amusement park before.
It was hard keeping her brothers happy all day long. They played with the dog. They rode bikes. They drew on the sidewalk with chalk. When her brothers grew tired, she put a blanket on the grass and read them the story of Noah’s ark.
Mom came home in time to put the boys to bed. Pam had never been happier to see her mom. Her brothers were a lot of work.
Glad for some quiet, Pam pulled a lawn chair off the porch and dragged it out onto the grass so she could sit under the stars. Fireflies swirled like sparks over the grass, flower beds, and trees.
“Hey there,” Chuck called from across the street.
“Hey, yourself,” Pam called back. “Did you get sunburned?”
Chuck laughed. “Yes, I did. It was awful. The lines were long, my favorite ride broke down, and the hot dog I ate was burnt. You didn’t miss much.”
“You’re just trying to make me feel better.”
“Maybe.” Chuck stepped into the dim light from the porch. “I thought you might be hungry.” Chuck pulled two deep-red candy apples from behind his back.
Pam’s eyes lit up. “Oh my! Those look great.”
Chuck grinned. “I’ll share, if you tell me why your family is so important.”
Pam knew what Chuck wanted to talk about. He wanted to hear more about the gospel and her belief in an eternal family.
He handed her one of the mouth-watering apples and then sat in the grass to listen while he munched on his own apple.
Somehow she had to help him understand that an eternal family was even more important to her than good friends and candy apples.