Here is the last of the stories I wrote for my class. It is based on a true story my friend, Deb, told me about her childhood.
Phoebe Ann’s Brilliant Idea, No. 216!
The two little girls were jammed so close together they could easily hear each other’s fast breathing. They were perched precariously, teetering on the very edge. Loud, impatient voices shouted from behind, feeling like invisible hands pushing them to act.
When she peeked over the edge, Maggie could see lots of people walking around down below, unaware and uncaring of her fears. Then, suddenly there was a hard push from behind and Maggie had no more time to worry – they suddenly “took flight” into another of Phoebe Ann’s brilliant ideas!
It was early morning on Edgewater Lane, and all along the freshly plowed street, kids with backpacks were coming out of doors, headed to the school a couple of blocks away.
Phoebe Ann came rushing up onto Maggie’s porch and rang the door bell in the special “code” she and Maggie had made up: “Ring, Ring, pause, Ring, Ring, pause, Ring, Rin . . . .” Phoebe Ann took her finger off the button when the door opened. Maggie stepped onto the porch all bundled up, wearing her backpack and ready to go.
As they walked off the porch, Phoebe Ann said, “Come on, Maggie. Let’s hurry. I need to study my spelling words at school before the bell rings!”
Maggie automatically adjusted her pace to the sense of urgency in Phoebe Ann’s voice, and they took off quickly down the snowy sidewalk.
Huffing and puffing a little, because her legs weren’t as long as Phoebe Ann’s and she was practically running, Maggie said, “Why didn’t you study your words last night? That’s when you’re supposed to do homework, you know — not right before school starts!”
Phoebe Ann said, “Oh, I studied them some last night, after I got home from my brother’s basketball game. But I want to go over them again. Since I haven’t missed any yet, I don’t want to break my record!”
Maggie said a little grumpily, “Oh, all right. I’ll help you study them.”
To change the subject to something that might be more of a treat for Maggie than helping with spelling words, Phoebe Ann said, “Hey, do you want to go to the park after school to sled, since it snowed last night?”
Maggie brightened and said, “Oh, that would be fun! I have to ask my Mom, but I’m sure she’ll let me go.”
Phoebe Ann said, “Good. Don’t forget we’ll have to share your sled. I haven’t got a new one since mine broke last time.”
Maggie said, “That’s okay. I don’t mind sharing.”
Phoebe Ann and Maggie had been best friends forever, which in “fourth-grader time,” was about six years. They were both good students, they shared a love of reading and playing Sorry, and living right across the street from each other made their friendship very handy too. But there were also some big differences between the friends.
At home, Phoebe Ann had two older brothers, so she had four “bosses,” or at least that’s how it seemed, because they liked to boss her as much as her parents did! And, she was way too busy to care much about how she looked, which drove her mom absolutely crazy. Because after finally having a girl, Mom wished her daughter would display a little more interest in things that the two of them could share – like clothes and shopping! At school, besides being a straight A student, Phoebe Ann was the fastest runner of everyone in the class.
Maggie, on the other hand, was the princess at her house because she was the only child. In a word, she was adored. She was short and a little bit chubby, with a mop of curly red hair. She was learning to play the violin, and she loved, loved, loved pretty clothes. In fact, she was wearing her very favorite coat today – the dark blue wool one with big black buttons. She thought it was very “grown up” and “fashionable” looking. Even her glasses were stylish with the small rectangular black frames that she saw “cool” eighth grade girls wearing.
The two friends were very different in their personalities, too. Phoebe Ann wasn’t just a fast runner-she was fast in all ways – her speech, her actions – and her decision-making, while Maggie was more of a thinker. She could easily have spent her whole childhood “thinking” rather than “doing,” if it hadn’t been for her “think it now/do it now” friend, Phoebe Ann, who regularly pushed her to action.
But for Maggie it was always fun and exciting to be friends with Phoebe Ann. And, most of the time, she thought how lucky she was that Phoebe Ann had chosen to be her best friend.
As soon as school let out, the girls hurried home. When they got home, they just dropped off their book bags, got permission from their moms to go sledding, and then half ran, half fast-walked, pulling Maggie’s sled back to the park across from the school.
When they reached the park it was crowded. Lots of kids were already there enjoying the snow, and lots of snowball fights were going on. That looked like fun, too, but they were there to sled. So, they made their way through several snowball fights (and threw a few themselves, of course, in self defense) to the busy sledding hill.
When they started taking turns on Maggie’s sled, it soon became obvious that, while this was fun, it was really slow fun. One of them would sled down and then slowly trudge back up the hill, working hard at pulling the sled through the deep snow. She would then give the sled to the other, who would then wait for her turn, and then she would sled down and slowly trudge back up the hill. It was short bursts of fun, with lots of waiting in between.
So, while waiting for her next turn, Phoebe Ann had a brilliant idea! When Maggie came trudging back up the hill, Phoebe Ann said excitedly, “Maggie! Maggie! Listen. I have a brilliant idea to make this more fun!”
Every fiber in Maggie’s little body at that moment, said, Oh-Oh, before she even heard the plan. When Phoebe Ann had a brilliant idea, it didn’t always bode well for Maggie!
One time Phoebe Ann had made a parachute out of an old blanket tied with some rope, and then convinced Maggie to jump out of the apple tree to “test” it! It was a good thing it had been the close-to-the-ground apple tree and not the tall walnut tree used for the “test!” Maggie wasn’t seriously hurt, but she did have trouble talking until she got her breath back.
So, even if this way of sledding was a lot of hard work, Maggie wasn’t ready to buy into Phoebe Ann’s plan, until she heard all the details and made sure they didn’t involve her jumping off of or out of anything!
But Phoebe Ann was on a mission. Convinced that her idea was, in fact, brilliant, she made up the details as she went.
“Okay, here’s what we’ll do. When it’s our next turn, one of us will lie down on the sled and the other one will lie on top of her! That way we can both slide down the hill every time!” Not only would they each get to go down twice as many times, but it would be easier to pull the sled back up the hill when they were doing it together. Brilliant!
Maggie would have asked some questions about exactly how this was going to work, but suddenly they were up next! Phoebe Ann rushed ahead, pulling the sled to the very edge of the hill. So, Maggie went running after her.
Quick! They had to decide – who on the top – who on the bottom! Hurry! All the other kids were waiting impatiently for their turns. The girls certainly didn’t have time to stand around talking!
So, Phoebe Ann said, “Quick. Get on!”
The time for questions was past. The kids behind them in line were getting louder and louder; they were taking too much time! Whether she liked this idea or not, Maggie quickly laid face-down on the sled and Phoebe Ann threw herself on top of her!
Oh-Oh, how were they going to get started? They didn’t know that two of them on the sled would make it harder to get started!
But someone from behind them, who was just interested in getting them out of the way so that that person could have his turn, gave them a hard push and off they went. As they went gliding down the hill, Phoebe Ann was thinking, This is one of my best ideas ever!
When they came to a stop at the bottom, Phoebe Ann jumped up and said, “Hurry, Maggie. That was fun! Let’s go do it that way again!”
Maggie didn’t answer. Maggie was slowly getting up.
Hadn’t Maggie thought it was as much fun as Phoebe Ann had?
Well, maybe not quite as much.
Maggie slowly turned around.
All Phoebe Ann could do was stare with huge eyes. What had happened to Maggie? She had snow in her mouth. It covered her face, even her glasses! In fact, the whole front of her was packed with snow!
When Phoebe Ann started brushing the snow off the front of her little friend, she realized something — all the big black buttons on the front of Maggie’s favorite blue coat were gone! Oh-Oh.
That’s when Phoebe Ann looked up the hill. The sled was still at the top of the hill, and the kids up there were pointing at the sled and then at her and Maggie, and laughing. That’s when the realization came – she had “sledded” down the hill on Maggie!
Maggie was trying to say something now, but Phoebe Ann couldn’t quite make it out, what with the snow in Maggie’s mouth and all, but Phoebe Ann did make out words like “never” and “ideas” and “Mommmmmy!”
Phoebe Ann cleaned her little friend off as best she could and used her best “mommy” voice, the one her mom used when she had an accident, to try to make Maggie feel better.
Brush, brush, brush. “There. I’ve gotten most of the snow off of you.” Then she straightened Maggie’s button-less coat. “I hope your mom won’t be too mad at you about your coat.”
Maggie was a mess. Her pretty knit hat was almost off, perched in a lop-sided pile on top of her tangled red hair, her face was bright red and her glasses were foggy. “Cough, cough, cough. That was a dumb idea, Phoebe Ann!”
Phoebe Ann was surprised! “Well, it was your sled that got stuck!”
“But, it didn’t get stuck until you said we should get on together!”
Phoebe Ann said, “Well, I didn’t know that would happen. It was just an ‘unfortunate turn of events’ like my grandma says.”
Maggie made a noise. Oh, No. Was she going to cry? There was the sound again. Wait a minute — she was giggling! And that made Phoebe Ann giggle too, in relief. Maggie must not be too mad at her!
Maggie said, “We’d better go home now. I don’t feel like sledding any more.”
Phoebe Ann was suddenly very relieved and very happy. She said, “Wait here. I’ll go get your sled,” and started up the hill.
But Maggie hurried to catch up and actually smiled at Phoebe Ann, in all her uncharacteristic messiness, and said, “Wait a minute. I’ll go with you. It’s easier to pull it together.”
So, the two little friends trudged up the sledding hill one more time to retrieve the sled and then went home to face the music together, because that’s what best friends do.