PLEASE NOTE: I WROTE THIS STORY WHEN I WAS IN 7TH GRADE. IT COULD HAVE SOME MINOR CHANGES. THANKS...
ÃÂHam,ÃÂ I said as my friends and I sat down for lunch.
ÃÂPeanut butter,ÃÂ said Lindsey.
ÃÂTofu,ÃÂ Leila said sadly.
Lindsey and I glanced at our friend Leila, who scowled at the sandwich in her hand. Lindsey and I looked back at each other and exchanged sandwiches.
ÃÂI have carrot sticks,ÃÂ Leila begged, her eyes like a puppy dogÃÂs that had just been swatted away with a newspaper. ÃÂAnyone want to trade for that?ÃÂI sighed and handed her my homemade chocolate chip cookies with regret.
She squeaked in delight and hugged me before she tossed the carrots my way. I made a face and slipped the bag into my backpack.
ÃÂGrandma always gives me $50 for Christmas,ÃÂ Leila said, her mouth full of cookies. ÃÂIÃÂm going to save it all and use it to buy truckloads of candy.ÃÂI
laughed. LeilaÃÂs mother was a true health food nut and wouldnÃÂt even let her have a lick of frosting from a birthday cake.
ÃÂI canÃÂt believe Christmas is only a couple of weeks away!ÃÂ Lindsey grinned.
We all nodded in agreement.
ÃÂAnd the Christmas play, donÃÂt forget!ÃÂ I added, then quoted from the show the seventh graders put on every year: ÃÂAs all of you can see, itÃÂs very true; the meaning of Christmas is not what we have, but what we do.ÃÂEvery year since we were in first grade, weÃÂd watch the seventh graders do the same show, and we had it memorized by the time we were ten. This year, as seventh graders ourselves, weÃÂd be performing it. We all longed to get the part of the angel. The girl who got that spot wore the most gorgeous gown that sparkled in the overhead stage light. And in my heart I just knew that girl would be me.
The teacher who would direct the play this year was Mrs. Rosenhind, a grey-haired woman who could barely see. She began passing out the script to the class later that day and said, ÃÂI will go through the list of characters in the play and you can decide which person youÃÂd like to be. The main character, as you all know, is the angel who narrates the play and has an important role in this production. Of course, there are no small parts, just smallÃÂ ÃÂNobody paid much attention because they heard this speech so many times throughout the years. At last, Mrs. Rosenhind read each characterÃÂs name and waited for someone to raise his or her hand. When she finally got through the list and came to the part of the angel, both Lindsey and I raised our hands. Mrs. Rosenhind squinted at us and then decided.
ÃÂLindsey, youÃÂll make a good angel. The rest of you who didnÃÂt volunteer will work on scenery and be in the choir. Now, I need the actors to come with me, and the rest of you will go with the art teacher.ÃÂI stared at Mrs. Rosenhind as she turned and led half the class out. Lindsey looked over her shoulder at me with a sad expression on her face before heading out into the hallway.
ÃÂDonÃÂt worry about it, Melanie,ÃÂ Leila comforted me later as I splashed red paint onto a piece of cardboard angrily. ÃÂItÃÂs not LindseyÃÂs fault that Mrs. Rosenhind chose her.ÃÂÃÂShe shouldnÃÂt have volunteered in the first place!ÃÂ I burst out, splattering paint onto my face. ÃÂShe knew how much I wanted the part!ÃÂÃÂWell, Lindsey wanted it, too,ÃÂ Leila commented softly. ÃÂJust as much as you did.ÃÂÃÂBut itÃÂs not fair!ÃÂ I sputtered.
Leila put a hand on my arm and gently took the paintbrush away from me.
ÃÂYouÃÂre covered in paint. You look like you have chickenpox,ÃÂ she laughed. ÃÂCome on. LetÃÂs go get cleaned up.ÃÂOnce I had washed all the paint off, we went back into the art room. Mrs. Mayfield, our art teacher, gave us another prop to work on.
ÃÂGirls, I want you two to make a four foot tall Santa. It may be a challenge, but you girls are the most creative and artistic people in the class,ÃÂ Mrs. Mayfield explained.
ÃÂWe would be glad to help, Mrs. Mayfield,ÃÂ I said, sounding very excited, because in the previous plays, I never saw a Santa prop.
ÃÂThank you so much girls. I know you will do a terrific job!ÃÂMrs. Mayfield walked away in a cheery mood and Leila and I started gathering materials to start the project. We worked on the Santa for about two hours, and it was coming out really good from our point of view.
Later, Mrs. Mayfield came over to see how much we had accomplished. She was astounded. She was speechless, but finally said, ÃÂGirls, what a marvelous job you are doing! I never thought you could achieve so much in one day!ÃÂWe both stepped back and looked at our half completed masterpiece. Leila and I were amazed because all we had to do was paint. We got a brief outlook of what Santa was going to look like. He had a face, arms with gloves, a beard and a hat.
We went to go wash up again and after we went outside and waited for Lindsey to come out. When my friend emerged from the school, she gave me a shy look.
ÃÂIÃÂm s-sorry you didnÃÂtÃÂ ÃÂ she started. Lindsey stutters when sheÃÂs nervous.
ÃÂItÃÂs fine,ÃÂ I said softly.
ÃÂI mean, IÃÂm thrilled I got the p-p-part, butÃÂ ÃÂÃÂI would have gotten it if weÃÂd had a fair tryout!ÃÂ I couldnÃÂt help commenting with a frown.
Lindsey put her hands on her hips and said, ÃÂHa! You trip walking from one side of the room to the other!ÃÂÃÂYou canÃÂt talk without stuttering!ÃÂ I shot back.
ÃÂTh-thatÃÂs not true!ÃÂ she cried.
Lindsey had tears in her eyes now, and she wiped them away furiously. She started to say something, let out an annoyed sigh, and stomped away. Leila hurried after my now ex-friend.
Lindsey and I spent the next few days in silence whenever we were in contact with each other. Leila tried her best to get us to talk, but we both remained stubborn.
The Christmas play crept up quickly, and it was clear that our class was the most untalented group of kids you could put together. The scenery looked like a four-year-old had finger-painted it, except for the Santa prop that was completed. Leila and I painted his coat and hat red and everything else white, aside from his skin, which was painted a peach color. After the paint dried, Mrs. Mayfield gave us a clear paint. She said it does wonderful things. Mrs. Mayfield wanted us to keep the clear paint a secret because then everybody would want to use it. We did as we were told and applied the clear coating with lots of layers. The actors all fumbled over their lines or forgot them altogether. The choir sang off-key, but that was ok, because it drowned out Mrs. Rosenhind, who was playing an ancient piano, forgetting her sharps and flats.
At one of our rehearsals, I realized that Lindsey wasnÃÂt more talented than the rest of us. When she wasnÃÂt forgetting her lines, she spoke them so softly that no one could hear her and as the angel, she had the most lines.
ÃÂAs he walked down the street, he came across, a, um, little girl whoÃÂ ÃÂ Lindsey stopped reciting, forgetting the rest of her lines.
ÃÂÃÂ Who sat on the corner, warming herself with a torn blanket,ÃÂ I finished from my spot in the choir, loud enough so everyone heard.
Lindsey turned bright red.
ÃÂThatÃÂs enough, Melanie,ÃÂ Mrs. Rosenhind shouted and then tuned back to Lindsey. ÃÂPlease continue.ÃÂÃÂTh-the girl had lost everything in a, uh, f-f-fire and now, umÃÂ ÃÂÃÂÃÂ Lived on the streets with only the clothes on her back and hope in her heart,ÃÂ I finished in a loud whisper.
Leila stomped on my foot and frowned at me. I glared at her, crossed my arms, and turned to glare at Lindsey. Even though she couldnÃÂt speak one suitable sentence, she looked just like a real angel with curly gold hair. I tugged at my own brown braids and frowned harder.
The day of the play grew closer and closer, but Lindsey just grew worse and worse, and she knew it. Half of me was glad, but the other half of me felt terrible.
The stage crew started setting up the dreadful scenery and the wonderful four foot tall Santa prop that Leila and I made. Leila and I were wondering what could be so wonderful about the clear paint. Mrs. Mayfield would not tell us. She said we would find out on play day. So all we could do was wait.
The night before the performance, I walked through my front door, and my mom informed me I had a visitor. When I peeked in the room, there it was, the best gift in the world. Well, at least the best gift IÃÂd ever received. On the couch lay the gorgeous angel costume. Lindsey, who stood nearby, shuffled her feet before speaking.
ÃÂI talked it over with Mrs. Rosenhind, and I want you to have the part of the angel.ÃÂ Lindsey looked at our hideous living room rug, not at me. ÃÂYou were right. I canÃÂt speak one sentence without stuttering.ÃÂA tear fell from her eye. I glanced at the dress, then back at her. I shook my head, and then forced myself to say it.
ÃÂNo, I wasÃÂ I was wrong. I shouldnÃÂt have gotten so mad at you.ÃÂ I bit my lip. ÃÂIÃÂm really sorry.ÃÂÃÂIt doesnÃÂt matter now, anyway,ÃÂ Lindsey mumbled. ÃÂI canÃÂt learn all those lines by tomorrow night.ÃÂÃÂYou can if I have anything to say about it,ÃÂ I said. She stared at me with raised eyebrows. ÃÂHand me your script,ÃÂ I ordered with a grin. ÃÂWe have work to do!ÃÂThe next night Leila, Lindsey and I all arrived at the same time. We checked in with Mrs. Rosenhind and headed to the auditorium. We opened the doors and it was incredible. It seemed like a professional artist came in that night a repainted the scenery. There was a village and townspeople. The sky was remarkable with stars and glittering lights. Leila and I ran to Mrs. MayfieldÃÂs room to tell her about the scenery. Lindsey followed behind, not knowing what was going on.
ÃÂMrs. Mayfield, the stage is incredible! How did you do it?ÃÂ Leila asked as soon as she got into the room.
ÃÂDarling, it wasnÃÂt me, it was you and Melanie! You were the ones who put the clear paint on the Santa prop,ÃÂ Mrs. Mayfield explained.
ÃÂYou mean to say, Santa came to life when everyone was gone and repainted the stage for our performance?ÃÂ Lindsey said from behind me sounding very puzzled.
ÃÂYes, Lindsey, it is true. That clear paint is unique material that makes things come to life when nobody is watching,ÃÂ said Mrs. Mayfield.
ÃÂThatÃÂs unbelievable!ÃÂ we all said almost at the same time.
ÃÂIt is hard to believe! I would love you girls to stay and chat, but donÃÂt you three have a play to go to?ÃÂÃÂOhÃÂ yes we do! Thank you Mrs. Mayfield, for everything,ÃÂ I said while I was leaving the room.
ÃÂBye girls! Do well,ÃÂ Mrs. Mayfield shouted from her seat behind her desk.
From then on, we knew this was going to be the best performance of this play in years. The play was going to start in about five minutes and the seats in the auditorium were full. I was standing behind the curtain with Lindsey because she had loads of butterflies.
ÃÂI donÃÂt know if I can do this,ÃÂ Lindsey whispered.
ÃÂYou know those lines backwards and forwards,ÃÂ I told her.
ÃÂAnd if you get stage fright, just think of me tripping over my feet.ÃÂLindsey grinned weakly and then took a deep breath as we all took our places. She stepped forward, the light catching her sparkly costume, making her glow like a real angel.
ÃÂThe story you are about to hear has an important lesson each of us should know,ÃÂ she recited. ÃÂIt t-t-teaches us a-aboutÃÂ ÃÂI held my breath as she stopped and I glanced at her nervously. I flailed my arms, as if I was about to fall over.
Lindsey grinned at me and continued. ÃÂIt teaches us about compassion, hope-ÃÂ she looked at me again with a smile-ÃÂand friendship.ÃÂThe rest of the play went off without a problem, if you donÃÂt count Mrs. RosenhindÃÂs piano playing, and when we came out to bow, Lindsey stuck her wire halo on my head. I whispered in her ear, ÃÂDonÃÂt get too comfortable in those wings cause this angel has talent!ÃÂÃÂYou? An Angel?ÃÂ Lindsey answered.
We both burst into giggles as the halo slid off my head and onto the stage floor.
There was a long applause from the audience and suddenly it grew quiet. Leila, Lindsey and I sat down and started talking like we should have been all along, instead of being mad at each other over a character in a Christmas play. When most of the crowd left, we all went on the stage and went to the prop of Santa.
ÃÂHe doesnÃÂt look like he came to life,ÃÂ said Lindsey studying his body.
ÃÂHe had to,ÃÂ Leila believed.
ÃÂMaybe he did. Maybe he didnÃÂt. We will never know,ÃÂ I said.
We turned away and started walking back stage. We heard a sound coming from behind and turned around. The Santa prop moved from its regular place closer to us. We looked away and it was moving again. We looked back and its hand was raised. It seemed like it was waving good-bye, but we will never know for sure. All we know is Santa was the one who redecorated the stage for a play to remember forever.