A little girl's faith saves her mother.
|"Emily! Don't bring those things out here!"
"I can if I want to!"
Kelsey sighed as her little sister hauled a wooden wagon filled with rocks and parked it next to her lemonade stand. She knew the small cardboard box she was using as a table wasn't all that pretty, but those rocks weren't helping.
"Emily, can you park those over there? Please?"
"No Kelsey! I wanna help Mama too. If I put my rocks over there, no one's gonna see them."
Kelsey gave up arguing with her sister to finish setting up her meager stand. In addition to the box, she had small plastic cups and a jug of ice and lemonade made from a package. The family just couldn't afford the lemons to make fresh-squeezed.
She finished with a sign scrawled in her hand that read "Lemonaid Sale 10 cents."
Next to her, Emily was busy arranging her rocks so that the best ones would show. She had gotten Kelsey to make a sign for her that read "Rock Sale 5 cents."
Emily, finally satisfied with the placement of the stones, turned to watch her older sister set up her stand.
"Kelsey, do you think we'll make any money to help Mama today?"
"I don't know Emily. It's hot out, so people should be thirsty. I don't know about those rocks, though."
Five year old Emily's eyes welled with tears.
"I picked the best ones, Kels. I tried real hard!"
"I know you want to help, Em. And you've got some real pretty rocks. Maybe someone will buy one today."
Emily puffed out her small chest, "I'm gonna sell all of them today! You'll see!"
She turned and huffed into the house. Kelsey watched her go. Although she was only two years older than Emily, she had been expected to look after her. Their mother was very ill and didn't have the strength to keep up with them. Emily was strong-willed and wanted desperately to help. When Kelsey came up with the idea of the lemonade stand as a means to help defray some of the medical costs, Emily insisted on helping in her own way.
Soon, the neighborhood kids began to come by for a drink. They were some of Kelsey's best customers. Everyone within five blocks knew about the girls' mother and would send their children over daily with a handful of dimes for icy lemonade. No one had yet to buy one of Emily's rocks.
Kelsey was just draining the last of the sunshine liquid from the jug when Emily emerged from the house.
"Em, can you watch the stand? I'm gonna make some more lemonade."
"Sure, Kels," came the reply.
She was rearranging her rocks again when a big, black car came around the corner. It pulled up alongside the tiny stand and the darkened back window slowly rolled down to reveal a man peering at her. He had long, dark hair and wore sunglasses. Emily returned his stare.
In a British accent he asked, "Do you know where the concert hall is, little girl?"
"No sir," Emily replied. "Did you know you need a haircut?"
The man appeared to not have heard her and was now staring at the wagon full of rocks.
"What's that you got there?"
"Rocks," she answered proudly.
"You're selling rocks?" asked the long-haired man.
"Why are you selling rocks?"
"Our Mama is real sick, sir. She has cancer and the bills are piling up and she needs an operation. Me and my sister are trying to make the money for her. My sister's inside making more lemonade if you'd like to buy some and she might know where the what's you call it is."
"Concert hall. How long has your Mum been ill?"
"A long time. She has to go to the hospital a lot and she needs an operation, but we don't have the money," Emily explained.
"Where is your Dad?" asked the man.
"I don't know. He left when Mama got sick."
The man nodded to himself. "Good luck, then."
"Thank you, sir!"
Kelsey came out just then with a fresh jug of lemonade.
"Kelsey, a man just came by and asked about my rocks!"
Kelsey glanced at the wooden wagon, but nothing seemed to be missing.
"Did he buy one?"
"No, but I just know he'll come back and then he will. You should have seen him Kels! He was in a big, long car with dark windows. I couldn't see inside. He had a funny way of talking and needed a haircut!"
"Emily! Don't be making up stories. I believed you and then you tell me this."
"It's true Kels! Honest!" Emily cried.
The rest of the afternoon went by in a haze of lemonade consumers, but no one even looked at the rocks as hard as Emily tried to get them to notice.
Close to dinnertime, Kelsey sold her last bit for the day and was picking up her stand so that she could have it ready for the next day. Emily pulled her little wagon, with its full load, toward the porch.
"I'm sorry, Em. Maybe tomorrow."
"Yeah, Kels," Emily said dejectedly. "Maybe."
The next morning, Kelsey picked up the paper from the front steps. When their mother opened it up, Emily's eyes grew round.
"Kelsey, that's him! That's him!"
"Who?" asked Kelsey.
"The man that needed a haircut who asked about my rocks!" Emily squealed.
"What's it say, Mama? Who is he?" the girls asked in unison.
Their mother was reading the story accompanying the photo, tears trekking down her face.
"Mama! What's wrong?" asked Emily, running to her.
"Did one of you girls speak to this man, yesterday?" their mother asked.
"Yes Mama. He asked where some kind of hall was and then asked about my rocks!" Emily exclaimed.
"And did you tell him I was sick, Em?"
"Yes Mama. Did I say something bad?"
"No honey. That man was Luke Hull. He's a famous rock and roll singer. He...," her voice cracked.
"Mama! What is it!" Kelsey implored.
Wiping at her tears, their mother replied, "He donated the proceeds from last night's concert to pay for my operation. It's all here in the article. He described you, Em and your rocks."
"He talked about me?" Emily said in awe.
Before anything else could be said, there was a knock at the door. Emily ran to answer it and standing on the front step was the long-haired man.
"You were in the paper!" Emily blurted.
Laughing, he replied, "I guess I was. I came by to buy those rocks."
"All of them?" Emily wondered aloud.
"Yes, little girl, all of them."
Emily went out with him while Kelsey and their mother watched from the door. He looked the plain rocks over making a grand fuss over each one.
"These are very lovely rocks."
"Thank you sir."
"Call me Luke, okay?"
"Okay," Emily replied.
"How much are you selling these for?" he asked of her.
"Five cents each," came the reply.
"These rocks are too nice to sell for only five cents. These are special rocks. I'll give you twenty thousand dollars for the lot and an extra five if I can buy the wagon too."
In the background, Kelsey squealed and their mother gasped. Luke gave them a warm smile.
"Okay," Emily whispered.
"Miss," he addressed their mother. "I have set it up at St. Michael's Medical for your operation. Everything is taken care of, you have no worries. The doctor will be contacting you in the next day or so."
Her eyes shone with tears. In a spontaneous gesture, she hugged him tightly.
"Thank you, thank you," she managed.
"I'm happy I could help. It's a lucky thing my driver got lost yesterday."
"Very lucky," piped in Emily. "Otherwise I never would have sold my rocks!"
Word Count: 1314