“Elizabeth,” boomed Mrs. Decker’s gravelly voice. “You did a wonderful job! What a great idea!” With that, the Girl Scout leader waddled to the other side of the room to eat another English Muffin Pizza. “Don’t forget to have me sign your handbook,” she said between mouthfuls.
Madeline’s blue eyes opened wide and her mouth gaped in disbelief. Her handbook, open in front of her, was turned to the cooking badge page. She had one last requirement for the badge. Madeline tightened the blonde poof of her ponytail with a hard tug and glared at her best friend.
“Thank you Mrs. Decker,” nine-year-old Elizabeth called after her smiling. She carelessly pushed Madeline’s Girl Scout Handbook out of her way so she could open hers.
“Once Mrs. Decker signs-off on this last requirement for the cooking badge, it ‘s mine!”, said Elizabeth. Then, with the aroma of pizza still hanging in the air, Mrs. Decker called the girls into a circle and began the ceremony to end the meeting. When the hand-squeeze made it all the way around the circle of girls, the meeting ended. The silence was broken, and the girls scattered, talking and laughing as they gathered up their belongings.
“Madeline, do you need a ride home?” asked Elizabeth. But Madeline, who was now furious, didn’t answer. She swiped a stray blonde hair from her forehead, gathered up her books, and pushed open the creaky church door. She burst into the crisp fall night and headed for home.
Once there, Madeline told her mother what happened at the meeting. “It was my idea to make the pizzas, but Elizabeth acted like it was hers! She didn’t even tell Mrs. Decker! Now I won’t get the badge.”
“I don’t know what to tell you, Madeline,” her mother said, folding a large pile of laundry. “You’ll have to talk to Elizabeth.”
Madeline sulked the rest of the evening. The next morning she was still mad at her best friend. At school, she wouldn’t talk to Elizabeth, and refused to eat lunch with her. Finally, at the end of the day, Elizabeth cornered her at their lockers.
“What’s wrong?” she demanded. “Why aren’t you talking to me? What are you so mad about?” Her questions bombarded Madeline.
Good, thought Madeline, she’s worried. “I’m afraid you’ll steal another one of my ideas,” she answered coolly without looking at Elizabeth. She pulled a grape lip gloss from her pink Hello Kitty backpack and rubbed it on her lips.
Elizabeth stood in front of Madeline with her hands on her hips, and a look of defiance on her face. “Are you talking about the pizzas?” Without waiting for Madeline’s response, Elizabeth went on, louder, “ Because if you are, it’s not my fault that Mrs. Decker thought it was my idea.” She flung her long brown hair off her shoulders.
“Yeah, right!” Madeline answered sarcastically. Now she looked directly at Elizabeth. “You should’ve told her it was my idea.”
Elizabeth’s brown eyes narrowed. “Fine! If you want to be mad at me for something that isn’t even my fault, then go ahead and be mad!” Her face was red with anger.
With a final swipe of lip gloss, Madeline gritted her teeth, revealing a mouthful of braces and said, “You better tell Mrs. Decker the truth at our next meeting. If you don’t, I will!” She picked up her backpack, pushed past Elizabeth, and stormed out of the school.
Without her friend to talk to and eat lunch with, the week dragged for Madeline. Madeline had seen Elizabeth looking at her with a half-smile on her face several times. She began to regret arguing with her friend over the badge. Madeline knew she could easily earn the badge by herself at the next meeting. Elizabeth, on the other hand, didn’t have many badges. Madeline realized that she wanted her friend back more than she wanted the badge.
Finally it was troop meeting day. Madeline arrived at the grey-stone church early, and waited nervously. The creaky door opened, and in stepped Elizabeth. She walked across the
room, took off her coat, and sat at the opposite end of the table, without looking at Madeline. The room was quiet except for the ticking of the clock that hung on the wall.
Madeline broke the silence of the room.
“I’m glad you’re here early. Can we talk?” Her voice sounded clear and steady. Elizabeth looked at Madeline for the first time without saying anything.
“I was thinking about the pizzas,” Madeline began, “and remembered that it was your idea to use English Muffins instead of hamburger buns. That made them taste even better. You should have the badge for being creative with the recipe”.
Elizabeth looked stunned.
“Do you mean it?”, she asked.
“Yeah - besides, I was thinking of making fudge to earn the badge”. Madeline looked Elizabeth straight in the eye and said, “Can we be friends again?”
“I missed you all week”. Elizabeth smiled and said, “Sure we’re friends!” Then Elizabeth hugged Madeline.
Just then the door creaked open again, and Mrs. Decker waddled inside shuffling her feet as she walked. She was followed closely by a group of girls who bombarded her with questions “What are we doing tonight? - “What badge are we working on next?”
In the commotion, Madeline and Elizabeth sat down and talked about Madeline’s idea to earn the cooking badge. Madeline was glad to have her best friend by her side once again.