"Grace! You look awful!" I exclaimed, hurridly rushing to her side.
Grace sniffed. "I haven't been able to sleep."
"Obviously! My goodness! Grace!" I was speechless (That's quite hard for me to do!). My little cousin had dark circles under her eyes and her eyelids were barely open. Her face was flushed and her small chubby hands were also red. Recovering from my horrendus moment (Where I couldn't speak! The horror! The horror!), I said:
"I have something that might cheer you up!"
A perky expression came across Grace's downcast look. "What!? What!?"
I slowly revealed the present I had brought for her. Grace let out a squeal, grabbed the present from me, looked at it for a minute, then enveloped it, squeezing it to her chest.
"A diary! Like yours! And pink! Oh thankyou Jessica! Thankyou Jessica! Oh this is great!"
"That's ok little cousin!" I said, giving her a pat on the back as she endulged on my note. A shadow came across her face as she finished reading.
"I forgive you Jessica. I do, and I've regretted saying YOUR NOSE was big ever since I said it. I'm sorry."
"That is so fine!" I said, giving the sincere little girl a hug. I took a look at my silver wristwatch.
"9:30AM already! It must of taken me longer then I thought to get here! I have to go Grace. A friend is coming at ten, ten-thirty. Sorry girl!"
"Say hello to mummy for me." Grace said clutching the diary in her hands. "And thankyou so much for the diary! I'm going to write in it right away!"
"Ok. Have fun Grace. I might be back this afternoon and I'm sure your mother will come and visit you as soon as she can. See you." I said, giving her one last peck on the cheek."I love you."
"Love you Jessica."
I rushed out of the room, Grace engrossed in her new pink diary. I hopped on my bike and peddaled hard all the way home, lost in thought.
When I arrived, Aunt Sally greeted me cheerfully, sitting on one of the dozen red and white couches in the lounge room, reading a magizine.
"There's some left over bacon in the oven to be kept warm. You just need to make some eggs."
"Thanks Aunt Sally" I said breathlessly. "but I might not have time. Darcy's coming over soon."
"The more the merrier."
"Aunt Sally I can't ask you to do that."
"Yes you can! But I just need to ask YOU one thing. When your friend Darcy comes, can you exercise the horses?"
"Oh sure! And its the perfect opportunity to tell her about Jesus and salvation. Thanks Aunt Sally!"
Suddenly the loud doorbell rang and Aunt Sally got up muttering something about making us breakfast. I tried to talk her out of that, but that did as much good as trying to press the 'ON' button on a broken printer. I rushed to the door and opened it, greeting Darcy with a friendly hello and hug. I took her up to see my room. She admired it and I explained that my parents were missionaries and they had asked my Auntie if I could stay with them for three months. An awkward silence hung over the place, but luckily Aunt Sally called us down to eat. There on the dining room table, was a large platter of scrambled eggs, a plateful of bacon, a bottle of juice and three cups sitting next to it, eight hash browns, a stack of pancakes and maple syrup and ice cream.
"Aunt Sally...I...I..." Here was the speechless moments again. The shame!
"Now don't worry, I'm eating with you. I didn't make much before, I just had some bacon and toast. Oh, that's what I forgot! Toast! Their just on the kitchen bench, I'll be right back!" Aunt Sally bustled off to the kitchen again.
"Sit down" I said helplessly, motioning to a chair for Darcy. "And don't worry! I didn't have breakfast today, so if you can't finish anything, I will!"
Darcy didn't reply.
"That was meant to be a joke."
"I...I didn't have breakfast either, I'm still, um, getting of, my dad's de...death. I...I'm sorry. Where's the bathroom?" Darcy asked, getting up with enough force to knock down the table.
"Oh, we have six. But the nearest is down the hall, turn right after five doors, then third room on the left."
"Got it." Darcy promptly got up and rushed to the bathroom. Aunt Darcy returned and asked where Darcy was. I told her about Darcy's little breakdown, and Aunt Sally rushed to the bathroom to see if Darcy needed assistance, while I indulged in 7 pancakes at once, having the occasional bite of hashbrowns every now and then. As I was getting my second helping of everything, Darcy and Aunt Sally returned, Darcy's eyes were red and Aunt Sally looked worried.
"Sorry I started without you guys" I smiled sheepishly. "But it looked so good."
Aunt Sally gave me the 'Its not the time!' look and I shut up.
Darcy gave a sniff and sat down, picking at some eggs and nibbling on a piece of toast. After the quiet meal was over, we were about to go out horse riding, but Aunt Sally stopped me as I was going out the door. I told Darcy to go ahead, I directed her to the stables then followed Aunt Sally to the kitchen.
"Here's some food for your ride. I noticed Darcy didn't eat much, so if she gets hungry, here."
"Thanks Aunt Sally." I gave her a kiss then went out to the stables. I found Darcy kneeling down, clutching her stomach, gasping for air. Tears were falling down her face, and she was shaking badly. I dropped the basket, the contents tipping out, and rushed over to Darcy. She just looked away as I tried to find out what was wrong. I grabbed a bottle of water that had tumbled out of the wicker basket and wet my hankerchief, patting it gently on Darcy's red face. After twenty mintues or so, she stopped crying and slowly sat up. She leaned against the stable wall and shivered like she was cold.
"Darcy? What's wrong? Are you ok?"
"Well, if you can't tell then I might need to get my Auntie out here, in case it's serious."
"No!" Came a weak and tearful reply. "Don't! I'm fine, really, I am. It's just: every now and then, I...I get a deep sorrow for my father. I...I don't know how to face the truth. I'm an orphan, and...and seeing your huge house and six bathrooms, your bathrooms are as big as half our house, its just...the reason I didn't have breakfast this morning is because we had none. The hospital bills have come pouring in and...now we have to come up with the money for a funeral. If God really cared, then wouldn't he provide?"
"Everything that happens to you is for a reason. Maybe your father dieing is so you can create a stronger faith with Him."
Darcy sniffed and looked down. "Well, anyway. I ussually don't open myself up to people like this. I'm sorry. Lets go horse riding!"
TO BE CONTINUED...........................
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