by Katherine Kennelly
Third Place – Level C (7th – 8th grade)
I should have recognized the twinkle in Mom’s eye. It all began one beautiful Saturday in early April. My older sister Anna, Mom, and I were planting in the garden.
“Mom, why do we need four rows of corn? I mean, we only need about two rows to feed ourselves,” I said.
Without stopping her work, Mom replied, “We would like to have enough to give some vegetables to the elderly people at church. They can’t plant their own gardens, and we all know that there’s a big difference between garden-grown vegetables and store-bought ones!”
“I wish I didn’t have to work. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to play all day? My best friend Jenna doesn’t have to work. Her Mom said that Jenna works hard enough with schoolwork. Why couldn’t we do that, Mom?”
“While we can work, there is no reason we need to use Dad’s hard-earned money to have someone else do our work. But, I have an idea. Next Saturday, how about we switch things up a little? You don’t have to work at all, but we don’t have to do anything for you, either.”
“Do you mean it?”
I could barely believe Mom would let me off the hook from work for a whole day.
“Oh, I can’t wait for next Saturday!” With an ecstatic sigh, I sat back down. Saturday couldn’t come too soon for me!
The week seemed to drag by, but finally, Saturday came. It was a beautiful day. The sky
was blue, the grass was green, and I filled my lungs with contentment. I jumped out of bed and got dressed. I didn’t even have to make my bed! I rushed down the stairs, whistling as I went. But when I got to the kitchen, I stopped dead in my tracks with surprise. The rest of my family continued placidly eating their breakfast as I stared at the empty place where my plate usually was. Then I smiled. Mom wasn’t going to make my breakfast because of our deal. I didn’t care, so I grabbed a bowl and poured myself some cereal. When I was done, I put my dishes in the dishwasher and ran upstairs. I had just bought a great book from the bookstore, and I intended to finish it! By lunch, I was done reading it but I didn’t have another book to read, so I sauntered downstairs to make myself some lunch. After a quick sandwich, I decided to go outside and swing. After about five minutes, I was bored.
I rode my bike before I became bored again. By 5 o’clock, I had exhausted my supply of things to do. I looked over at Mom and Anna, laughing and talking as they worked in the garden. The little voice inside of my head told me that I should tell Mom that she was right and ask if we could call off the whole deal. But my pride stood in the way. I couldn’t do that! Anna would laugh at me, and probably spread the story all over the school!
I turned and resolutely walked into the house. Surely there was something I could do!
Another hour passed, each minute even worse than the last. I tried reading a magazine, but magazines only go for so long. After I was done, I glanced at the clock, sure that at least two hours had passed. Imagine my surprise when only half-an-hour had passed!
“Huh,” I said to myself. “The clock must have stopped in here.”
Upon looking at the clocks in the kitchen and dining room, I had to admit that the one in the living room was correct.
I was miserable. I had always heard Mom say that there was satisfaction in a job well done, but I always thought, there’s satisfaction when you don’t have a job to begin with. I smiled at my own joke but it didn’t seem so funny anymore.
I finally decided that it wasn’t worth it. Maybe, if I asked Anna nicely, she wouldn’t tell anyone about this horrible day. Taking a deep breath, I started the walk to the garden.
“Mom,” I started hesitantly. “I was wondering…”
Mom looked up.
I took a deep breath, blinking back the tears.
“Could we call off the whole thing? You were right. There is satisfaction in a job well done!”
“Of course, hun. Ecclesiastes 9 verse 10 says, Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, and do you know what Colossians 3 verse 23 says?”
“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”
“That’s right! God wants us to work hard and with a good attitude even if no one is going to see you.”
“You know, I had to do the same thing with Anna!”
I looked in amazement at Anna, who grinned at me and mouthed, “I won’t tell anyone.”
“Thanks,” I said as I went to get another gardening spade.
Katherine lives in Central Illinois with her parents and five younger siblings. She enjoys reading, writing book reviews, writing stories, and playing the piano.