Elise Parrot came bounding into the fellowship hall propelled by the inexhaustible unseen energy source that was unique to her. She skidded to a stop in front of the parson’s seat, wrapped her arms around his neck and hugged like a long lost daughter.
“Guess what,” she said.
“What?” responded the parson.
“No really, you have to guess.”
“Okay, tomorrow it’s going to rain orange jello.”
“You’re silly, Parson. No, my brother is staying with my aunt for two weeks. I don’t have to put up with all his stuff. It’s wonderful.”
The parson smiled, “Who’s the luckiest, you or your brother.”
She stepped back and placed her hands on her hips. “I’m the lucky one and you know it. Jackson is hyper and you know that, too.”
“I guess you’re right,” he said. “And tonight you’re really, really, really lucky.”
Elise’s mother and grown sister walked in about that time. Her mother warned her not to be bothering the parson. The parson assured her she was not.
“How come I’m really, really, really lucky?” she asked.
“Go in the kitchen and ask Ms. Parson.”
Elise disappeared with the speed of a raccoon with Charlie Brown, the parson’s faithful canine companion, fast on his heel. In a few minutes she came back out.
“Ms. Parson told me to sit beside you and be quiet.”
It was amazing. She sat beside the parson and was quiet.
Ms. Parson came into the room with a package in her hand. She placed it on the table beside Elise and the parson. “This is for you,” said Ms. Parson. “There’s a lady in the church who especially likes you. She’s kind of a secret friend. She wanted me to give this to you.” Elise looked puzzled. Her face was a question. “Go on,” said Ms. Parson, “open the package.
Elise looked over toward her mother and received a nod of approval. She tore into the package. The intake of breath was audible as she extracted three new dresses. (It was obvious the dresses did not come from the outlet mall and that the anonymous donor had taken care to select just the right dress to match Elise’s personality and enhance her hidden beauty.) She spread the dresses individually beside each other on the table and stood transfixed.
After a couple of minutes of pregnant silence, Ms. Parson suggested. “Why don’t you take the dresses to the bathroom and get your sister to help you try them on to make sure they fit.”
“Can I?” asked Elise.
Ms. Parson hugged her. “Sure you can.”
Elise and her big sister scurried to the bathroom. The parson surveyed the room and beheld with joy the adult smiles.
Elise and her sister called to Ms. Parson. She disappeared and in a few minutes she returned with Elise, her sister, three dresses and the news that everything fit perfectly.
Everyone gathered about the tables and began to consume the soup that was the meal for the evening and which the teenagers were delivering to the home bound in the community. As the evening wore on people wandered to different parts of the church and Elise, Ms. Parson and the parson were left in the fellowship hall.
Quietly, Elise moved to the table behind the parson and Ms. Parson. She spread her three dresses out and stood in contemplation.
“Do you like them?” asked Ms. Parson.
“Oh, yes, I do,” she said. “Will you tell whoever gave me these how much I like them?”
“I’ll tell her, Elise.”
“Ms. Parson,” she said in a quiet voice. “You know what’s the best thing about these dresses?”
“What’s that, Elise?”
“Well, you know that pretty purple dress I wear to church? Don’t tell my Mom I told you, but that’s really the only dress I have.” She paused and then said, “Do you know my friend, Betsy?”
“I don’t think I know her,” said Ms. Parson.
“Well, anyway, Betsy doesn’t even have one dress. And the best thing about me getting these three dresses is that I can give Betsy my pretty purple one.”
Overhearing, the parson whispered, “A little child shall lead us.”Graphic by subscription with Clip Art [dot] Com