(find part two here)
Three weeks later…
I sang as I washed the dishes, soapy foam flying everywhere. I always had such fun washing dishes. I liked to make things clean and shiny. I rinsed the last dish, and still humming, skipped into the living room where my mother was sitting at the computer. She turned to me, a look of anger crossing her face. “What’s the matter, Mom?” I asked, but before the words were out of my mouth, I knew. Splashed across the computer monitor were the words, “Congratulations! You’re in the TOP TWENTY!” and a picture of my cake, Peachy Keen, was below them.
It had been about three weeks since I had sent the recipe, and I hadn’t thought about it much, except for a few pinpricks from my guilty conscience. My family had eagerly devoured the peach cake, destroying the evidence of my crime. Just at that instant, looking at Mom’s furious face, I wondered why I thought she would’ve been happy with my disobedience. I was in so much trouble, and it was all my fault. I backed up a few steps and squeaked, “Mom, I’m so—”
“Olivia Helen Thompson,” she growled, “what have you done?”
I sat at the end of my bed, miserable, my eyes red from crying. My parents stood before me, glaring their hardest. Not that I would’ve blamed them at that moment. I was furious with myself. I wanted to glare at myself, too, except that I had a splitting headache from crying too much. “This is what we are going to do,” my father started to slowly pace up and down, thinking of my punishment, “You obviously didn’t care what your mother said. She told you no.”
“Yes, Daddy,” I sniffled.
“So now we need to make a decision.”
“Yes, Daddy.” Sniffle.
“You can either pull out of the contest willingly, or we’ll do it for you.”
“But… but, I wanted to—” I jerked my head up, “I thought—”
My mom glared harder. “You thought you could do whatever you wanted, that you wouldn’t get in trouble, that we’d be happy about it?” Her voice rose.
My head dropped again. Even though I wasn’t happy with myself, I thought maybe they would let me participate, and then I would be punished. That maybe they were secretly proud of me. Of course that’s not the case, I thought rebelliously, turning my face away from my angry mother.
“Look at your mother,” my father rumbled, frightening me, and my head whipped toward her. “Olivia…” she shook her head, softening, “You know we love you, and I want to trust you. But this is a lie, a big, big lie. A sin. I thought we taught you about what God thinks about liars.”
A tear escaped from my eye, running down my cheek. I didn’t really think much about God. Only at church.
“I want to trust you,” Mother repeated, “But now I can’t. Don’t you see? If you lie once, that makes it easier to lie again, and again. And then I can’t trust anything you say. That’s why it’s so serious, don’t you see?” She tilted her head to one side, and raised one eyebrow.
I saw, all too clearly, and flopped myself onto my bed, sobbing again. My mother and my father both sighed deeply. “Let’s leave her alone for a while,” I heard my father say, and they both left the room, my mother stopped to pat me on the back.
“It’ll be ok, sweetie,” she said quietly. I only cried harder.
It was a little later, and the sun had swooped down from the middle of the sky. I watched the sunset. The sky was mostly pink and orange and the sun dyed the clouds around it the same color. It was a lovely sight, but I was thinking.
After my parents left, I thought about what Mother had said. Lying was a sin. They told me that when I was younger, but they stopped after a while. I guess they thought I was old enough to remember. Or maybe too mature to try to deceive them.
I sat on my bed, leaning against my pillow, and cracked open my dusty Bible. I knew that my mother read hers daily, and she often talked about what God was teaching her, but I never listened too hard to her. I liked the Bible stories in the Old Testament, the ones about parting the seas and knocking down the walls. But when it came to the psalms and prophets and letters, well, they were just plain boring.
First I read the Ten Commandments, and I sort of flinched inside when I got to number eight, “Do not steal.”
Then I flipped around the New Testament and got caught up in Paul’s epistles. I read for a while, flipped some more. Thirty minutes went by, and by then, I was pretty interested in the Bible.
My door opened, quietly, as if the opener expected me to be sleeping. I looked up, and there stood Mother. “May I come in?”
I nodded assent. She came and sat down next to me on my bed. “How are you feeling?” she asked, putting her hand on my shoulder. “Alright, I guess,” I admitted, and then I hugged her hard. “I’m so sorry, Mother! I didn’t think!”
Mother took me by the shoulders and looked into my face.
“Yes, you did,” she said sternly, “But you didn’t feel like listening to the thoughts that told you it was wrong.”
I sighed, and hugged her again. “I’m still sorry, though.”
“I forgive you, and so does your father.” She smiled, and kissed me. “So what are you going to do to get our trust back?”
I thought for a minute. “Well, first I’m going to ask Dad to forgive me,” I looked at the floor, because I was about to say something that felt weird, “And then I’m going to ask God to forgive me. I was reading my Bible, and now I know it was a sin.” I tapped the cover of the book in my lap. Mother suddenly lit up. “I’m so glad you read your Bible!” she glowed, “was there anything that stuck out to you especially?”
“Stuck out to me?” I flipped through to Exodus and pointed. “Well, I read the Ten Commandments. And some of what Paul wrote about.”
Nodding, Mother took my Bible from me. “Well, that’s a good start. Can I show you something?” She flipped through to the back, to Revelation.
“Oh, Mother, not that book,” I protested, “It’s so weird and creepy.”
She ignored me, turning the pages, and then she pointed at the page.
“Here it is. Revelation 21:8,” she said with satisfaction. “But for the fearful, and unbelieving, and abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone; which is the second death.”
I shivered. “Fire and brimstone doesn’t sound very comfortable, does it?” Mother asked.
“No,” I admitted, “It doesn’t. And it says that’s where liars go?”
“Yep,” Mother said, and then changed the subject, “So your father and I have been talking.”
I squirmed and looked down at the Bible, “What have you decided?”
“We’ve decided that we haven’t taught you enough about God, or talked about God enough.” Mother sighed, and closed the Bible, “and although we’ve told you lies were wrong, you obviously didn’t know enough to not do it.” I looked up at her, a smile playing around my face. “So… I can… still enter the contest?”
She frowned. “Olivia, you think we’d let you?”
My smile disappeared. “No, but I... still wanted to.”
Mother got up, patted my back. She walked to the door. “I’m sorry, Olivia. But you do need to be punished. First you will write an email to the contest officials, telling them why you can’t continue.”
I looked up, and almost protested. But a look from Mother told me she wasn’t taking complaints.
She continued. “Then you will not be allowed to speak to your friends for a week. You can call Sophie and tell her why, if you want to.” I shook my head. I really didn’t want to tell Sophie about the contest and my lie. I knew she would not be happy with me either.
“You must stay in your room for the rest of the night. No TV or computer. I’ll bring your dinner to you.”
I smiled sadly. “Ok. I understand. Thanks, Mother.”
She closed the door quietly and I turned over on my side. “I wish I’d never lied in the first place,” I whispered to the half-moon, which had risen while we were talking. Suddenly I remembered something I had to do. I rolled off the bed and kneeled down, my folded hands resting on my bed. Then I whispered, “God, I really made a mistake…”
Usually when we go to the church service, I sit with my friends. We whisper and giggle and have a great time. I like to doodle on the bulletin with Sophie. But this Sunday was different. I sat with my family. When we filed into our pew, I sneaked a glance at Sophie. She was talking and laughing with the other kids. I felt a little bit sad at not being able to join them, but I was looking forward to the sermon, too. When the preacher stood up, I settled down to listen.
The sermon was about Job, who I’d never read about before. It was an interesting sermon, and Mother asked me if I wanted to read the book of Job together. Of course, I said yes.
After the service, I waved goodbye to Sophie, and she waved back. Her smile was sympathetic, but she looked disappointed in me.
When my punishment was over, I invited some of the girls at church (including Sophie) over for a Bible study. We read, talked, laughed, and ate lots of snacks, and we had such a great time we’re going to do it every week. Mom and I are reading the Bible every night before bedtime, and the whole family is memorizing some Bible verses. I pray and talk about God a lot more than I used to for sure.
Now that I’ve won my parent’s trust back, they’re allowing me to enter the upcoming town baking contest. And I know exactly what I’m going to enter.