“Tangerines,” Friend, August 2009, 4–6
“Liz, I’m selling walnuts so you need to sell something else,” Abby said to her older sister. “And hurry. We’re meeting Hannah and Zack in five minutes!” Abby continued picking up walnuts that had fallen from the walnut trees in their yard.
Liz loved to play store with her neighbors, but today she couldn’t think of anything to sell. She grabbed her bike and headed down the street. She saw Hannah and Zack setting up their stores under some trees in front of their house. Hannah handed Liz some leaves from the trees. “We each get 20 leaves to spend,” she said.
“What are you selling?” Liz asked.
“Mom let me have some granola bars to sell, and Zack got some aloe vera leaves from our backyard,” Hannah said.
“What are you selling, Liz?” Zack asked.
Liz bit her lip. “It’s a surprise.”
Liz rode her bike around their neighborhood looking for something to sell. Her neighbors, the Bakers, had a beautiful tangerine tree in their front yard, and the tangerines looked delicious. Liz noticed that their car wasn’t in the driveway. She hurried to the tree and filled her pockets with tangerines. As she picked them she smelled their tangy-sweet scent. Liz rode back to her friends and piled the tangerines next to Abby’s walnuts.
“Those look yummy!” Abby said. “How much?”
“Five leaves each.”
“I’ll take two.”
Liz handed Abby two tangerines and added the ten leaves Abby handed her to her own. Now she had 30 leaves! She went to Hannah’s store to buy a granola bar. They cost 15 leaves each.
“I’ll take one.” Liz handed Hannah the leaves.
“Where did you get so many leaves?” Hannah asked. “Did you cheat and take them from the trees?”
“No, I sold some tangerines to Abby,” Liz said.
“Really? How much for the tangerines?”
“Five leaves each.”
“We’ll be right over,” Hannah said.
Liz sold six more tangerines to Hannah and Zack. She had never earned so many leaves when they played store! She was able to buy five walnuts from Abby, an aloe vera leaf from Zack, and another granola bar from Hannah. Plus she ate a tangerine. It was juicy and sweet.
Liz saw the Bakers drive their car into the driveway, right next to the tangerine tree. Liz tried to hide her pile of tangerines.
“Liz, did you take those tangerines without asking?” Abby asked.
“No. It’s not stealing if they don’t care, Abby. They have lots of tangerines,” Liz said. But she was scared her neighbors would see the tangerines she had picked. Would they be angry with her?
“We should give them back,” Abby said.
Liz bit her lip. “How? We already ate them.”
Abby thought for a moment. “We can give them some of the walnuts from our tree.”
“That’s not the same thing.” Liz put her hands on her hips. “And don’t tell me what to do, Abby. You’re only five.”
Tears came to Abby’s eyes, and Liz felt bad. Abby was right, but she was scared to tell her neighbors she had taken their tangerines. “Will you come with me, Abby?”
Abby nodded, and the girls gathered up some walnuts to give to the Bakers. Liz went to the front door and knocked timidly. Mrs. Baker answered the door.
“Hi,” Liz said, holding out the walnuts. “We brought these for you.”
Mrs. Baker smiled. “Thank you, girls! What nice neighbors you are!”
Liz looked at the ground. “We brought them because I took some tangerines from your tree while you were gone. I didn’t have anything to sell for our game, and they looked so good.” Liz felt her lips tremble. She didn’t want Mrs. Baker to yell at her. “I’m really sorry.”
“That’s OK,” Mrs. Baker said.
Liz looked up in surprise. Mrs. Baker didn’t even seem angry.
“We don’t eat many tangerines anyway. You can have as many as you want, as long as you ask first.” Mrs. Baker smiled at the girls.
“Thanks, Mrs. Baker!” Liz declared.
She put her arm around Abby as they walked home. “You know what, Abby? You’re a great little sister.” Liz felt good for telling the truth and giving Mrs. Baker walnuts to make up for the tangerines. She looked forward to eating more delicious tangerines from the Bakers’ tree. After asking first, of course.