*Note to reader* this isn’t quite edited and still needs work.
“Oww!” The cry of pain came from the laundry room. Peter Olson came hobbling out, clutching his foot. Plopping down on the couch, he gingerly rubbed it, tears spilling down his freckled face.
At that moment, 15-year old Elsie bounded down the stairs. Her eyes were focused on her math book as she tried to figure out a problem. “Hey, Mom? Can you help me with–” Glancing up, she saw Peter on the couch, crying, and holding his foot. “Peter, what’s the matter?” Elsie asked, concerned. “Did you hurt yourself?” Peter only nodded. Elsie closed her book and crossed over to where he sat. “Tell me what happened.”
He looked up. “I was in the laundry room, trying to reach some twine in the cupboard so that I could finish making Samuel’s sword? I tried to jump for it and I got it, but then as I was focused on untangling it, I started walking to the other cupboards to find some scissors, but then I stubbed my toe real hard. You know that little space in between that one cupboard on the far right and the laundry basket drawers?”
Elsie nodded. She had almost stubbed her toe there many times. “Let me see your toe, Pete. Which one is it?”
Peter pointed to the second toe on his right foot. “And it hurts something awful, too.”
“I’ll bet,” Elsie countered. “It doesn’t look pretty. See? It’s starting to swell. And it looks sort of purply too.”
Peter gaped as he saw the offending toe, swollen and purple. “I didn’t notice that before. Can you get Mom? Please?”
“Of course, Peter. I wouldn’t just leave you here. Do you know where she is?”
“In the basement, I think.” Peter stated blankly.
Elsie dashed downstairs where her mother had just finished putting a large Tupperware bucket in one of the shelves. “Mama…” She panted, “Peter’s hurt, and he wants you to come upstairs.” Mom tucked a wisp of blonde hair behind her ears. Concern flickered in her gentle brown eyes. She placed a hand to her large stomach.
“Oh dear…What happened to him?” She began up the stairs, lifting her maxi dress slightly as she did.
Elsie followed, explaining the situation. “He stubbed his toe really badly, and… Mama, I think it might be broken. I’m not totally sure, but it’s swelling and turning colours.”
Mom breathed out a sigh of concern. “I’ll take a look at it. If that’s the case, I’ll have to take him to the doctor. Will you be fine at home to take care of the kids until Dad or Mary Anne gets home?”
Elsie nodded. “Yes, I can. Will you be taking Barbara with you? It would make it a lot easier if she wasn’t running around when I’m trying to make dinner or something. I really don’t know how you do it, Mom.”
Mom chuckled. “It’s about 99 percent God and 1 percent patience!” They reached the landing and opened the door. Mom saw Peter and made her way over to him. “I heard what happened, Peter. May I take a look at the toe? It may be broken. If so, we’ll have to go to the hospital.”
New tears spilled down his cheeks as Mom gently touched the toe. “It hurts when I touch it like this?” He nodded. Mom gave Peter a little hug. “Don’t worry, sweetie. It will be just fine. Let’s get it checked out at the hospital, all right? Go get a shoe on, and I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Peter obeyed silently, and Elsie helped him hobble to the front door. She situated him on the bench and slid on one sandal. “I’ll be praying for you, Pete. Be brave, OK? It will be just fine.”
He gave a small smile and with a wobbly voice said, “I’ll try.”
Elsie returned to Mom, where there were now four children surrounding her, listening to her talk to them about how Elsie would be in charge until Dad, Mary Anne, or Owen arrived, and how they must listen to Elsie and be big helpers to her. Elsie smiled. Her mother was so gentle and loving, almost never raising her voice. Elsie sighed unconsciously, wishing she could have the same gift. Maggie, Kayla, Alyissa and Samuel all turned eyes upon her.
“Elsie!” Maggie and Kayla both clobbered her. “Will you play dolls with us? You can be the old nanny!” Staring very seriously into her face, Maggie stated, “You have to. You know what the Bibwle says. To do unto others as–”
“You would have them do unto you.” Kayla finished, with a smug smile on her face. Maggie nodded in agreement.
Before Elsie could answer, Samuel trotted over and laid a hand on both girls’ shoulders. “No, no, Maggie. That’s not what Jesus meant. He didn’t mean that you just say that so you can get what you want.” Casting a glance over his shoulder to Mom, he added, “Right, Mama?”
Mom smiled, tears glistening in her eyes. “Yes, that’s right, honey. All right, I need to go now, kiddos. Peter is waiting for me.”
Giving them all affectionate kisses and hugs, she gathered her purse and a light sweater. Even though it was April and quite mild outside, it sometimes was a bit chilly in the evening, when the sun wasn’t as high in the sky.
“Wait, Mommy!” Alyissa called as she ran after her. “Are you taking Barbara? She is probably going to be pretty grumpy when she wakes up from her nap. It would also help Elsie.”
Mom paused. “How so?” she asked with a questioning glance.
Alyissa grinned. “It would be less kids for Elsie to take care of!”
Mom smiled. “I agree! However, because it would be harder for me to have her underfoot at the hospital, would you be willing to come and watch her?”
Alyissa nodded her head vigorously. “Oh yes! Can I go and get her up?”
“Yes, thank you!” Mom said, very pleased with Alyissa. “I’m so proud of your willingness to serve, Lissa. That’s just how Jesus would act.”
Alyissa beamed with happiness. She ran upstairs and soon returned with a less-than-happy-Barbara. Mom scooped up the pudgy toddler. “Hi, sweetie, how was your nap?”
Barbara laid her head down on Mom’s shoulder. “Dood. ‘Cept when Lissa wote me up.”
Samuel burst out laughing with the child’s jargon. “She sure does talk funny, doesn’t she?”
Maggie and Kayla, who had remained silent up until this point, shared in the laughter, even though they didn’t realize that only until a short time ago, they had spoken just like Barbara.
Elsie covered her mouth with a hand to hide her grin. Alyissa just shrugged and ran off to get her shoes on.
Mom chuckled. “I suppose she does, Samuel. But all of you used to talk like that. You just grow out of it as you learn to say things better.” Leaning down, she whispered, “And it is cute, isn’t it? We don’t want her growing up too fast.”
Samuel nodded, his eyes twinkling.
“OK, I really do need to go now, kids. I’ll see you later. Kayla, honey, don’t slide down the bannister. You could hurt yourself.” Kayla scurried off, disappointment showing in her eyes, but pride registering there as well that she had obeyed her mommy so quickly. Mom smiled at her and grabbed a small sweater for Barbara that was on the table. She retreated out to the car, Barbara on her hip.
As soon as Elsie had helped Peter out to the car, she returned inside and locked the door. Uncertain as to what she should do first, she glanced at the clock, hoping it would be time to start supper soon. She was disappointed to find that it was only two in the afternoon. “Hmm.” she mused aloud. “I suppose I should find out where the kids went off to.” After the foursome had left for the hospital, everyone else had disappeared. “Maybe I should actually take out some ground beef. It will take a while to thaw.” Deciding that was her next task, she went downstairs to the large chest freezer and pulled out four small packages of the frozen meat. She hurried upstairs, clutching the frigid meat in her arms. She plopped them in a large glass bowl and ran hot water over them, setting the bowl in the sink. I’ll have to put new water in there in a bit.
Elsie wandered out of the kitchen. “OK, kids! Where are you?” In their 4,000 square foot house, it was easy to lose someone for a while.
When no one answered, Elsie sighed. If she knew the twins and Samuel, they were hiding from her, hoping that she would find them. “C’mon, guys. I don’t really feel like playing hide-and-seek. You still have schoolwork to do!”
No one answered. The whole house was silent. Elsie trudged upstairs, hoping it wouldn’t take too long to find them. “Elsiiieeee! Come quick!” A voice came from Mom and Dad’s bedroom. Elsie quickened her steps and rushed into their bedroom.
“What’s the matter?”
Six fear-filled eyes popped up from one side of the neatly-made bed. “Hurryyyy!” Elsie joined them on the floor.
“What is it?” She asked again. “Is this a joke?”
Samuel answered this time. “N-no. Look out the window!”
“What am I looking for?”
“Just look!” Samuel whispered again.
Elsie peered out the window and looked for several moments before she spotted a man. He was wandering around, near the edges of the small forest at the border of their property. “Who is he?” she wondered aloud.
The three shrugged. “I don’t know!” Samuel answered, “ That’s what makes it so scary. What should we do?”
Elsie stood. “I’m not sure. I think we should get out of this room and make sure that all of the windows and doors are locked. Since we don’t know who this guy is, we should be as safe as possible. I also think we should call Dad.”
They all shuffled out of the room, closing the door behind them. Maggie and Kayla clung to Elsie as she closed all of the windows and locked them. Samuel was downstairs, making sure that all of the doors were locked.
Elsie bent down to Maggie and Kayla’s level. “Are you girls alright?”
They nodded hesitantly. “I think so.” Kayla spoke, “I’m still scared though. Are you going to call Daddy?” she asked.
Elsie nodded. “Yeah. Come with me.” She found a portable laying on her desk, and she dialed Dad’s cell phone. As a lawyer, Dad was often involved in a meeting, or was busy studying a case for the person he was representing. Elsie hated to bother him, but she knew he wouldn’t mind. Dad answered after a few rings.
“Hi Dad, it’s Elsie.”
“Elsie, sweetie, how are you?”
“I’m alright, Dad. How are you?”
“Fine! I’m just coming home from a meeting. Is…is there something the matter? Is it your mother?” His voice became concerned.
“No, no. It’s not Mom, don’t worry! It’s just that, there is a man at the edge of our property, near the woods. He was just wandering around. We locked all of the doors and windows, but is there anything else we should do?”
Elsie could hear Dad’s obvious relief about Mom. “That’s strange. Who is there with you in the house?”
“It’s just me, Maggie, Kayla, and Samuel. Mary Anne and Owen aren’t home yet. Mom took Barbara, Alyissa, and Peter to the hospital. Peter might have broken his toe.”
Dad sighed. “Yes, Mom called me from the hospital. I just didn’t think it was only you there with the kids.” He paused. “OK. Don’t do anything. Don’t go out of the house. Can you check to see if he’s still there?”
Elsie swallowed. “OK.” She cautiously opened the bedroom door and looked out the window. There was the man, still wandering around, looking very deep in thought. He made wild gestures with his hands, as if he was talking to someone. “Dad…he’s still there, and he looks like he’s talking to someone… on the phone I mean. He’s making all of these gestures with his hands.”
“OK, Elsie. I’ll be home in an hour and a bit. I have a meeting that I can’t miss. If he leaves, call me. If he is still there when I come home, I’ll have to talk to him. Don’t go out of the house, alright?”
“Good. Call me if there’s a problem. Could you put the phone on speaker? The other children are there too, right?”
“Yes, they are. One sec.” She hit the speaker button. “OK, you’re on speaker, Dad.”
“Hey, kiddos! Now, Dad will be home in a little while, so you just listen to Elsie, alright?”
A chorus of ‘Yes, Dad’s sounded, and Dad assured them that everything would be fine. “I’ll see you all soon, alright?” They all said good-bye, and Elsie turned off the phone.
Maggie and Kayla jumped up and down. “ Boy, that man is scary. Are you scared, Samuel? Can we have a snack, Elsie?”
Samuel shrugged. “Sorta. But Dad will be here soon, and I won’t need to be scared. But if he tries to come in while we are here, I won’t let him. I’ll tackle him and tie him up. I’ll–”
Elsie held up a hand. “Woah! I sure hope that won’t happen, but thank you for your willingness in protecting us. What a gentleman!”
Samuel flushed in embarrassment. “Girls.” He muttered, a small grin plastering his face.
Elsie turned towards the twins, who were still bouncing up and down, and chanting, “Snack, snack, snack, snack…”
“Sure, that’s fine. Let’s go downstairs and fix something to eat. What do you feel like?”
“Cookies!” They both giggled. “Can we have cookies? Puh-lease?”
Elsie chuckled and grabbed their hands in her own. “‘Fraid not! For one thing, we don’t have any, and for another, it’s not the best type of snack to be eating. How ‘bout cheese and apples? Samuel? What do you think?”
He nodded. “That sounds good!”
The twins reluctantly, but eventually nodded their consent. As they all went downstairs, Kayla mumbled, “Not as good, but healthy for my tuuuummmmy!”
Maggie giggled quietly. “You too funny, Kayla.”
Elsie quickly fixed a snack for the three kids and replaced the now cold water in the meat bowl with some fresh, hot water. The clock now read 2:30 P.M. What could she do in the span of time before supper?
“OK, kids. Once you are done your snack, time for a little more schoolwork. Then you can go have some quiet time, alright? Mary Anne should be home really soon.”
They all nodded and Elsie went to get their schoolwork. It’s going to be a busy afternoon.