Celeste felt the anger churning within her like the lumpy cream in the tall wooden tub that she was plunging into butter. She slammed the long broomstick-like plunger repeatedly into the tub – partly from frustration and partly to make the butter come faster. Nearby she could hear the annoying sounds of discord coming from her younger brother and sister.
“Gimme that bucket! I want to feed the chickies!”
“No, you’ll spill the seed everywhere! Just let me do it!”
“I will not! Give it!”
Celeste released a long, hard sigh, so strong that it was almost a growl. Why did her siblings have to fight so much? Couldn’t they ever once, for just a day perhaps, get along? Their constant bickering was almost more than she could handle.
The tiny kitchen in the back of their farmhouse was stuffy and humid from the hot summer air, even with the back door open as far as its hinges would take it. She paused for a moment to wipe a few beads of sweat from her forehead and flex her stiff fingers, then proceeded to plunge the wooden dasher into the churning tub. The arguing just outside the door continued, but Celeste refused to get involved. . “I may be the oldest, and I may be thirteen,” she reasoned, “but I’m not the mother around here! Eliza and Joel can solve their own problems . . . or wait for Ma.”
A hint of warm breeze swept through the open door and windows and gently caressed her sweaty cheek and neck. But she was too upset to appreciate it. She couldn’t stop brooding over the unfairness of her being assigned to such long, irritating chores on a day that screamed for her to play outside. It was just too hot to be stuck indoors. Outside she could sit under a tree and read a book, or run down to the pond and go for a refreshing swim.
But no, Ma was running an errand in town and had left Celeste in charge. On top of being stuck with the butter-churning, Celeste had to keep an eye on her eight-year-old brother and six-year-old sister. The ones who had both decided to feed the chickens and were now in a heated argument.
The cream was just beginning to thicken when suddenly she heard an ear-shattering scream. Forgetting her resolve not to get involved, she abandoned the churn and instinctively rushed to the child in need. Reaching the door she could see Eliza hunched over on the ground, holding her nose and pealing out exaggerated childlike sobs. She quickly covered the six foot distance between them and knelt by her sister’s side, her long dress and snow white apron resting in the dirt.
Joel quickly sputtered out an explanation, “It wasn’t my fault! She . . . she tried to grab the bucket from me and I . . . just raised my hand to keep it away from her, but it hit her in the nose!”
“Let me see,” Celeste said, coaxing Eliza to draw her hands away from her face. The little girl was reluctant, but she managed to pull her hands away a few inches.
“She’s bleeding!” Joel gasped.
Blood was gushing from her nose and had already covered the palms of her hands.
“Get me a towel!” Celeste instructed. She held her apron to Eliza’s nose and told her to hold the bridge of her nose to stop the blood flow. Joel soon returned with the towel.
“I’m so sorry!” he said. “I didn’t mean to, Eliza, really.”
Eliza was crying less now, and seemed to be calming down some. Celeste glared at Joel. “Why do you two have to get so upset? See all the trouble you caused?”
Joel stared down at his feet. It almost looked like he had tears in his eyes. Suddenly Celeste was ashamed. She thought of her own anger and selfishness and realized that she had been acting just as childish as them. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I guess we all let our anger get the best of us.”
A verse flashed through her mind from last week’s devotions that made her smile at the irony.
“Why’re you smiling?” Eliza queried. She was clearly puzzled at the timing of such behavior.
“I was thinking of Proverbs 30:33 . . . It seems to demonstrate what just happened. I’ll show it to you if you want. This’ll be a good reminder to watch our anger.”
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