All she wanted was to have a couple friends spend the night for her “sweet sixteen” birthday. Not a huge party, because she knew they couldn’t afford that. Her mother reluctantly agreed. Her friends walked home from school with her, as they goggled about boys.
“So, Tracey…. have you told Jacob that you like him?” Mindy winked.
She flushed. “No…. I c-can’t do that. I would die of embarrassment. He’s so popular, and I’m so plain.”
“But, you two have known each other forever, you’re in youth group together. Surely he’s figured it out by now anyway. Just say something.”
Carol swatted at Mindy. “Leave her alone. Have you told Mike that you have a crush on him yet?”
Mindy blushed. “I didn’t have to.”
”What??” Carol and Ann said in unison.
“He asked me out yesterday. He asked me…to go out with him tonight. Mom had told me I couldn’t date until I’m sixteen, but that’s a few months away. So… I was kinda hoping that you wouldn’t mind if I snuck out of your house to meet him… you know at least for a couple hours. Then I’ll be right back. I already told him yes. Please?”
“Um.. I don’t know. Let me think about it, ok/”
They got home and made themselves a snack. They were interrupted by the phone ringing.
“Hello?” Tracey recognized the voice even before he identified himself. “Oh, hello, Martin. No, Mom isn’t here. She’s still at work. She won’t be home till late. Bye.” She hung the phone up with a bit more force than she intended to. “Ugh. I just hate my mom’s new boyfriend.”
Carol put her arm around her friend. “I’m sorry. Maybe you could talk to her about how much it bothers you?”
”It won’t do any good. Since Dad died, all she does is work, meet new guys and drink. She stopped going to church. She was so mad at God… “ Tracey took a sip of her pop and shook her head. “Anyway. Let’s order pizza for later. Mom left me some money for it.”
The girls sat around watching a movie, doing their hair and munching on pizza. They all jumped when they heard a knock on the window. They saw Mike grinning through the window. Mindy jumped up and went to let him in, “It’s ok if he just stops by for a few, isn’t it?”
Tracey didn’t get to answer before the door was open and Mike stepped in, quickly followed by Jacob and another boy she didn’t recognize. She could feel the heat rising to her face, and she worked hard not to stutter. “Hi, Jacob. Mike. Who’s your friend?”
”Oh,” Jacob stepped back by the other boy. This is my cousin, Ben. He’s in visiting for a couple weeks.”
Carol jumped in to help Tracey. ”Ben? Isn’t your family the missionaries our church sponsored?”
Ben nodded. “That’s us. We’re home on furlough. My parents are going around to different churches to raise support. They said I could stay with Jacob until we go back.”
”Why don’t you guys stick around awhile? We still have some pizza left.” Mindy said.
Jacob sat down next to Tracey. “You’re mom won’t mind a couple extra people, will she?”
”I.. I guess not. As long as you only stay a little bit.”
They all sat around laughing, eating and watching a movie. Time flew by until they heard someone fiddling around with a key in the front door.
Tracey jumped up. ”Oh, no. Mom’s home.”
“Hi Tracey….” Her mom stopped in her tracks, and stared around the room, wavering slightly. She was drunk … again. “So, I let… you have a party… and this is how you repay me? By having boys here?”
”But, Mom…we’ve been just watching movies and talking.”
”You espect… expect me to believe that?” I trusted you…and here you are having sex in my living room!”
”Mom, you’re embarrassing yourself…’
“What do you mean you’re embarrassed? You should be! Look at yourself. Caught in the act!” Her mother stormed back out the door, slamming it behind her. They heard a car pull away.
Tracey burst into tears. Carol was instantly at her side. “I’m sorry…. maybe you should all go home.”
”Maybe we should pray for you and your mom, first.” Jacob said as he took Tracey’s hand, the others joining in a circle.
Tracey wiped away her tears. “Thank you.”
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