Sharon was rich and lived in a large house. Beth was from a poor family and lived in a little house that had thin walls and bare pine floors. Sharon and Beth went to the same school, were in the same class and one day entered the same contest for reading books and writing reports. At the end of the contest, both girls had completed the exact same number of reports and both girls had done reports of very high quality. The contest was declared a tie and the two girls were asked to draw straws—short straw to win.
An ecstatic Beth won the prize, a music box of bright blue plastic. When the music played, a tiny screen showed a series of different pictures as the wheel revolved. Beth placed her prize next to the front door of her small house so if there was ever a fire she would be able to rescue it on her way out.
Sharon was very disturbed that she had not won the drawing. After all, she had written just as many good book reports as Beth. She went home and complained loudly to her parents. The next day her parents came to school and complained loudly. Before you know it, the contest judges decided to buy another music box for Sharon.
Sharon was pleased to have gotten her own way, but after playing the music box she was not impressed. She shoved it on a shelf in her closet with many other forgotten toys.
While it was Beth who worried about fire, it was Sharon who suffered that catastrophe. Early that winter, a fire caused by a careless maid destroyed Sharon’s home. The family escaped but all their possessions were destroyed.
When Beth heard about the fire, she was dismayed. At school, it was said that all of Sharon’s many toys had burned except for the pony cart that was in the barn. All her clothes had burned. Many of the little children were not too kind about Sharon’s hardship. One little girl even said, “It serves her right for being so hoity-toity all the time.”
Beth, however, was sad for Sharon. On the way home after school, she thought and thought. She was home only a minute before she rushed back out the door carrying a small bag. She raced to a large brick house—the home of Sharon’s grandmother where Sharon was now staying. When the maid brought Sharon to the parlor where Beth was waiting, Beth opened the bag and pulled out her cherished music box. “I’m sorry about your fire,” she said. “I want you to have this in place of the one you lost.”
“Thank you,” said Sharon. “I’m sorry I can’t visit now. Grandma is taking me shopping to get new clothes.”
A few minutes later, the maid closed the door behind Beth as Sharon raced upstairs to the bedroom she had been given in her grandmother’s home the moment she was born. As she pulled out a warm coat to wear on her shopping trip, she took a moment to shove the music box to the back of a shelf. “It’s a stupid toy,” she thought. “No wonder Beth gave it to me.”
Sharon went off shopping with Grandma with no understanding of the great gift she had been given while Beth went home to her little house, watched and guarded all the way by a thousand angels.
Read more articles, stories and poems by B. Killebrew at: www.trovemagazine.com