“I never, ever EVER want to go to school again!” declared Rose Parker dramatically, flopping on to a couch. She had just returned home after an unfortunate day at school.
“Oh Rose, it’s not all that bad!” her friend Sarah Rae said, trying to comfort her. Everyone is sure to forget what happened, eventually.”
“Eventually?” cried Rose, refusing to be comforted. She shook her head fiercely which made her long reddish-brown hair fall in to her face. “That’s forever away! By that time, I probably won’t even care whether they remember or not!”
Sarah sighed, shoving a stray lock of her short blond hair behind her ear. She and Rose had walked home from school together earlier that day, and Sarah had been trying to console her friend ever since. Sarah’s mind began to wander, and she recalled what had happened at school that Rose was so upset about.
It had all started early that morning on the way to school. Rose had been so busy talking to Sarah that she accidentally walked into a pole. Unfortunately, one of her classmates, an annoying girl named Jessica Norton, had been watching and she thought it was hilarious. Then, on her way to lunch, someone got in Rose’s way, causing her to trip and run into some other students. Jessica saw it happen and spread the word of Rose’s accidents among her friends, who laughed unfeelingly. But the worst was during lunch. She had been standing in the lunch line when a girl ran up in front of her to retrieve something she had dropped and accidentally shoved Rose. Rose had fallen backwards into the person behind her and unfortunately created a domino effect as one after another, people fell over. Lunches flew through the air, people shouted, and everything turned into complete chaos. Then, to Rose’s dismay, Jessica spoke up.
“Rose!” she had cried. “Now look what you’ve done! You’re such a klutz!”
“But –” Rose had protested.
“Calm down everyone!” the lunch monitor had interrupted. “Rose, be more careful next time! You’ve made a huge mess! ”
Rose had tried to tell what really happened, but she could barely get a word in edgewise. And when she had finally managed to make herself heard, no one but Sarah believed her. Everyone just assumed she was incredibly clumsy. She had even seen students whispering and pointing at her. And Jessica had made things worse by telling everyone about her other recent accidents. Rose had been absolutely mortified.
“Well, um, Sarah,” said Rose quietly, breaking into her thoughts. “Do you want to do something? Something that will take my mind off that whole mess?”
“A mess certainly describes it.” muttered Sarah to herself. But to Rose she said “Okay, sounds good. How about we make cookies?”
“Okay,” answered Rose without enthusiasm. The two girls walked off into the kitchen.
That night, Rose lay in her bed, thinking about her day. She wondered why she always seemed to get so upset over even small embarrassments. “I wish I didn’t.” she thought. “But I can’t really help it. “ But right after she thought that, she realized that maybe she could help it. “Please, God,” she prayed. “Help me to be able to get over my embarrassment and forgive Jessica. Amen.” She made the sign of the cross. The next thing she knew, it was morning.
That day at school did not turn out well. She saw more people whispering and pointing at her. Once, someone came up to her and whispered “Clumsy!” When she turned around to see who it was the person had disappeared in the crowd of kids on their way to lunch. Rose tried to ignore it all, or if it was too bad to ignore, offer it up, but it was hard.
Finally, school let out. Rose was relieved as she stepped outside with Sarah to walk home. She took a deep breath of the cool fresh air and stared up at the lovely blue sky. Looking at God’s creation reminded her of something she needed to do. She made the sign of the cross and began praying. “Dear God, thank you so much for helping me throughout this day. Please help me to always do Your will, even if it’s really hard. Amen.”
Just then, a cracking sound followed by a scream pierced through the calm.
“What was that!” cried Sarah, looking all around her, trying to find the source of the noise.
“Up there!” gasped Rose pointing to a tree branch right above them. From it, legs kicking wildly, eyes wide with fear, hung Jessica Norton.
“Help!” she screamed, “I’m slipping!” The two girls standing below understood her situation at once. The branch she had been standing on had broken, and she was too far from the ground to do anything but hang. The two girls looked at each other.
For a split second Rose felt tempted to walk away. But then she clutched her Miraculous Medal and lifted her eyes to heaven with a silent prayer. She suddenly forgave Jessica for her recent unpleasantness and everything else she had done. Then she knew what God wanted her to do.
“Sarah, I know what we need to do.” she said quickly. She turned to Jessica. “Do you have any-”
“There’s a ladder in my garage right over there,” interrupted the frightened Jessica. “Oh, be quick! Please!” Rose and Sarah raced off, returning in a minute with a long ladder.
“Sarah, could you give me a hand?” Together, they two girls propped the ladder up against the tree. Jessica was about to lose her grip when the girls called “It’s ready!” She planted her feet firmly on the top rung, and then wasted no time scampering down it. At the bottom she stood hesitantly for a moment, and then turned to the girls.
“Thank you,” she mumbled.
“Oh, you’re welcome,” replied Rose.
“It was nothing.” added Sarah.
“Another thing,” continued Jessica, turning to Rose, “I’m sorry about what happened.” Rose looked up and they met eyes for a moment, and smiled.
“I forgive you.” Rose whispered. And she really meant it. After a pause, Sarah spoke up.
“Wait a minute, Jessica” she said curiously. “What were you doing in that tree, anyway?” Jessica turned red.
“Well…um,” she began, fidgeting uncomfortably.
“Please tell us,” pleaded Rose. “We won’t tell anyone else if you don’t want us to.”
“Okay, I guess,” mumbled Jessica. “It’s just that, well, I’m really afraid of heights, so I try to climb the tree a little higher every day so maybe I’ll get over it. I know it’s silly. I didn’t want anyone to know. Oh, and please don’t tell anyone.”
“I don’t think that’s silly at all.” announced Sarah. “I used to be afraid of water until I took swimming lessons.”
“And I’m still afraid of spiders” giggled Rose. Jessica smiled. She was starting to feel cheerful.
“Well, I really need to get started on my homework,” she said apologetically. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you tomorrow!” the other two girls chorused back. Together they walked the rest of the way home.
After that, Rose kept praying, and she gradually became more forgiving, and got embarrassed less easily. She soon learned to just offer up her embarrassments and move on. Jessica started to act more charitable too, and stopped teasing others to make herself look good. She even became friends with Sarah and Rose. Because of this, Rose learned that she just needed to ask, and God would help you love even your enemies.
Clare Kearns, a 12-year-old girl from Northern Virginia, enjoys writing poems, plays, short stories, and aspires to chapter books. When she's not writing, she can usually be found reading a book in her home or a nearby tree.