Authors: Concetta Kennedy
Peter Pranston had just become the worst enemy Garden Irene could think of ever having. He had betrayed her. Now she would keep his coin forever.
“Go ahead, Peter,” Mrs. Fitzpatrick said in a voice that sounded like she agreed with him.
“I know that Garden Irene lives in a tiny house at the end of Pleasant Street hill, and it's not underground,” said Peter in one breath. “And my dad works for her dad, and he told me that she lives there, too,” he added in his next breath.
“Garden Irene, is what Peter is saying true?” Mrs. Fitzpatrick asked in an almost disappointed voice.
It wasn't like Garden Irene to tell stories just to call attention to herself. After she let out the biggest sigh ever, she sadly nodded in agreement with Peter's story.
After a moment of silenceâwhich Mrs. Fitzpatrick must have allowed for any additional explanation from Garden Ireneâshe quickly mentioned to the class that there would be no more discussion about the subject, and that it was time to get down to work.
But before she let anyone start their work, Mrs. Fitzpatrick told everyone that it is wonderful to make believe, but that there are times when we can do such a thing, and times when we shouldn't. Garden Irene stood corrected.
Later, when they went outside for gym class, Garden Irene's humor was nowhere to be found. She wasn't worried about who saw her march toward Peter. She just knew that she had to have words with him.
He could see her coming, and he could also see she wasn't happy. He had practically given himself a badge for handling the “castle story” so heroically. Women are so confusing, he thought.
“Hi, Garden Irene. How did you like what I did?” he asked very proudly. “You sure don't look too appreciative about it, that's for sure.”
Garden Irene's steady march toward Peter was not with any intention of wishing him a good day. Her eyes were squinting and her lips were set in an exaggerated pout. Her hands were where they belonged, on her hips, as she stopped before him.
“Just what were you trying to prove by scaring me like that?” she said in a very bossy voice.
It wasn't Garden Irene's nature to act this way, and she realized how awful she sounded after it was too late.
“I was just trying to steer everyone away from your story. That's why I winked at you. Didn't you get the message?” asked Peter in an almost disappointed voice. “I figured that nobody would bother you anymore if I did that.”
Garden Irene didn't know what to say. She suddenly realized that Peter had taken care of everything by telling about her tiny house. That was brilliant! she thought; truly brilliant, truly clever. And it made it so she never had to worry about her castle secret ever again.
She gave him a big grin and said, “Peter, that was perfect! And I'm sorry I got mad at you. I didn't know what you were doing.”
Garden Irene knew then that Peter was about the best friend anyone could have.
Later that day, Garden heard her parents come home. She jumped out of her chair and ran to greet them. Although this was a bit unusual for Garden Irene, her parents thought that perhaps she had been frightened by something and needed them for support.
“Hi, honey. What's wrong?” asked her dad.
Both her mom and dad put down their grocery bags and went to Garden Irene's side. She didn't say anything for a few minutes. It was like the time she had broken the blue delft vase and she hadn't known how to tell them. They, of course, forgave her, and all was well.
“Garden Irene, what's wrong?” asked her dad a second time.
“Mom and Dad,” Garden Irene said, hesitating. “I have something very important to tell you, but you have to promise not to get mad . . . ”
There was a heavy silence that seemed to weigh on Garden Irene. But, she was going to be strong, and tell them. It was going to take all the strength she had in her heart and soul to confess to her parents that she had shared their secret with her best friend Peter Pranston.
She took a deep breath, and let the words come out . . .
“Mom . . . Dad . . . sometimes things happen, and we know it's wrong, and that we will get in big trouble, but we just can't do anything about it,” she began. “Things happen, and we get so scared; but if it happens with our best friend, it's still bad, but not so bad if it's something we do with this best friend rather than if we do it alone. Anyway, I couldn't tell you that I needed help with this big problem because you were both working, so I did the next best thing. I closed my eyes and tried to think it over and make the right decision â like you always tell me to do before I act.”
“Garden Irene,” said her dad, “this doesn't sound like we're going to like what we are about to hear.”
“Mom and Dad,” continued Garden Irene in her very angelic voice, “my best friend is Peter Pranston, and I want you to meet him. He helped me in the classroom when everyone was going to ask me about our castle. He saved me by telling everyone in the class that we just live in the little tiny house. Now, because of Peter, they won't ask me anymore about our castle.”
In a very serious tone, her dad said, “Garden Irene, go on. Tell us what this problem was that seems to be making you so nervous. That's nice that Peter helped you, and that should have been the end of it.”
“Okay,” Garden Irene said as she took a deep breath. “I had no choice. I had to show Peter that I wasn't really making it up about the castle. He thought that I was a terrible person who just wanted attention. Anyway, I got so scared on Friday, that I decided to leave school and come home so I had the weekend to figure out how to deal with Peter and the class. But when I was walking home, I didn't realize it, but Peter followed me. He thought of me as such a good friend that he didn't care if he got in trouble for leaving school.”
“Go on,” said her dad as her mom looked on with a bit of a frown on her brow.
Garden Irene continued. “I think he is the best friend anyone could have for leaving school with me.”
“Garden Irene, what are you getting at?” asked her mom.
“Well,” continued Garden Irene, “we walked the whole way home. But we didn't walk very fast because I was trying to figure out what to do with Peter when we got here. He also told some girls who weren't very nice to me at school to become my friend, so now they are really nice to me. And he knew he would get in trouble for leaving school, but he did this for me. I had to show him that I was not a liar, or someone who just wanted attention... He saw the castle.” The words hung in the air, so she quickly added, “And he promised he would give me his mountain bike, or his bug collection, or this special coin that his uncle gave him if he ever, ever told anyone about our home. Please believe him. And please forgive me, but I had to do it.”
Garden Irene waited what seemed like an eternity before either of her parents said anything. She figured that they were in a bit of a shock because they never had this happen before. They certainly looked like they were in shock.
“Well, Garden Irene,” said her dad, “your mom and I already discussed this. We came to the conclusion that you stirred up interest about our castle when you brought it up in your class discussion. And, we decided that whatever happens, happens. We hoped that our secret would never get out, and maybe Peter will be true to his word, but if word gets out, it will be something that we will deal with; not you. We understand your predicament, and we thank you for being so honest with us. So, now, when can we meet this Peter Pranston? His dad is a good friend of mine. He cleans our building.”
Garden Irene was so excited over her parents' reaction that she ran over and gave them the biggest hug ever. And with that she said, “You can meet him anytime you want. I can call him now. I know he'd love to come back to our secret castle!”
Relief flooded them, and they all had a good, hearty laugh.
First and foremost, I need to thank my husband, Arthur Kennedy, who was my support system all through the ups and downs of getting this book published. At times he was my editor, my financial director, but most of all, my partner with patience and love.
Without the dedicated effort and support of the BQB publishing team, none of this would have happened. Terri Leidich, my publisher, and I bonded as soon as we had our first words by phone, and then had a personal meeting shortly thereafter. She was the energy and guiding light to my first book. Thank you, Terri!
Katy Whipple, my production manager, had more patience than I thought was possible. She was the very necessary liaison between all who made this book possible. Thank you, Katy!
Leah Jennings, my illustrator, was excellent at working with me and getting exactly what I thought was necessary for this story to be exciting. Thank you, Leah, for your time and effort, and keeping at it until I saw what I wanted in your beautiful artwork.
Julie Breedlove, the marketing manager for BQB Publishing, helped me get this book out to the public eye. Thank you Julie, for all your help in dealing with the technology necessary for this to happen.
Robin Krauss did the cover and interior design of my book. Thank you, Robin, for taking such pains in getting the cover and interior design with the perfect colors and print to my liking.
Kim Fout, my ever faithful, hard-working (through the wee hours) editor, who worked with me until the story was polished and ready for publication. Thank you, Kim.
And last, I want to thank all my family and friends who kept encouraging me to carry on with my plan of becoming an author. Most of all, I want to thank God for hearing my prayers.