Alyssa's BIG Birthday Wish


Alyssa had to admit it - Austin wasn't a bad driver! And he had been the nicest brother possible, taking her to a movie and then to lunch. There had only been three hairy moments: the movie he had really wanted to see had been rated PG-13, and Alyssa had known that if Mommy and Daddy ever guessed she had seen it, they would each blow a gasket.

The second incident had been with that girl. Alyssa rolled her eyes thinking about that one - what a close call! Even so, she was afraid Angie Pearson's mother, who was part of the church and knew her Mommy and Daddy, would say something to Daddy about how Alyssa's handsome young "uncle" had wanted to take Angie out on a date! Oh, well...Alyssa supposed that if Mommy and Daddy asked her, she could say, truthfully enough, that she had not been with any of her uncles at all today, but had spent the day with A.J. Maybe they would think Mrs. Pearson made a mistake. Alyssa only felt a bit sorry for Angie, who would be waiting for A.J. to call her and ask her out! "She's going to have a long wait," Alyssa thought.

But far worst of all had been the speeding ticket. Eventually that one would come out, Alyssa knew - the notice would arrive in the mail or someone would call, and she didn't know how that one could ever be explained! At least her name wouldn't come into it - she had hunkered down in the seat next to her brother while he had been speaking to the policeman, and was pretty sure the man didn't notice her. Maybe Mommy and Daddy would be wondering how their two-year-old (almost) son could possibly have gotten a speeding ticket, but at least it probably wouldn't occur to them to ask her!

But now they were back to the house, and Alyssa had a set of fresh worries. Surely Mom had noticed they were gone by now, and would be very upset?

Luckily, she noticed the light still on in the den when they pulled up, and it appeared to be the only one lit. Mommy was still working on Emily's dress! And no other lights on meant Daddy was still over at the church. But it would soon be time to start dinner, so they'd have to hurry inside. But once inside, what then? Alyssa worried and worried. Then suddenly, she came up with a Plan.

The moment Austin stopped the van, she began to whine. "Austin, the snows been melting, and it's too slippery here. Carry me?" He sighed, pulled the key out of the ignition, and started around the van. Alyssa opened the door on her side and got ready. Just as her brother drew close...

SPLASH! Down she jumped, as hard as she could, into the huge mud puddle. In a moment, both of them were covered with mud from head to toe.

"Alyssa!" Austin yelled. "What's gotten into you?! Look at what you did to my clothes!"

"Oh, Austin!" Alyssa cried, trying to sound repentant. "I'm so sorry - we'll have to get cleaned up before dinner!" Now, if she could just manage to sneak him upstairs, that would be the first problem solved...then if she could only keep him busy until sunset! Joshua had said the wish would wear off by then...

Her thoughts broke off as her muttering "big" brother grabbed her hand and began storming toward the back door. Alyssa gasped - they'd have to go right past the den to get upstairs.

"Austin, no!" she yelped. "The front door - then we won't track so much mud upstairs!" He looked at her in surprise - usually she was the messy one - but had to agree it made more sense.

They slipped inside, and Alyssa pushed her brother toward the steps immediately. "Upstairs - I don't want Mommy to see how muddy I got us!" Austin started up. Then Alyssa froze when she heard her mother's voice call crossly from the den.

"Alyssa Ann, you have been out all afternoon! I hope you haven't gotten both your brother and yourself frozen through!"

"No, Mommy!" Alyssa gasped, trying to sound natural. "We're just going to get washed up. She darted up the stairs and had just turned the corner when she heard the front door bang open again, and Daddy's voice say, "Hi, we're home!" while behind him Joshua said, "That's funny, I was sure it was our van I saw pulling up..." It was an even closer call than she liked to think of!

Panicking, Alyssa tore down the hall, jerked a large towel out of the linen closet, ran back, and burst into the boys' room. Austin looked up, started. He had already taken off his coat, shoes, and shirt. "Good grief, sis, have you forgotten how to knock? What's gotten into you today?!"

"I brought you a towel!" Alyssa cried. "Mommy says dinner will be ready soon - you'd better get into the bathroom. I'll throw your clothes in the hamper."

Austin, sighed, shoved her out of the room and shut the door. Alyssa ran to her own room, where Emily was playing with her Barbie doll. The smaller girl looked up in confusion. "Alyssa, you're all muddy!"

Alyssa didn't even answer, just threw off her clothes and pulled on clean ones. She didn't even bother putting her socks on when she heard the door to the boys' room open and heard Austin walking down the hall to the bathroom. As the bathroom door shut, she rushed into the boys' room and gathered up all the dirty clothes, stopping to pant for a moment. She hadn't run around this much in such a blind panic since her last basketball game.

At that moment, hearing Joshua starting up the stairs, she did the only thing she could think of - ran toward the bathroom, from which the sound of running water was now coming. Without hesitating a moment she barged right in and slammed it shut behind her.

"Hey!" came Austin's started voice from the tub. The shower curtain was drawn and he was running the shower. "Alyssa, what do you think you're doing?!"

"I'm just putting these clothes in the hamper!" Alyssa called, doing just that and trying to sound natural at the same time.

"Well you'd just better get out! I'm trying to take a shower!"

Alyssa's heart stopped when she heard Daddy's voice right outside the door. "Is someone running the shower? Who's in there?"

Alyssa glanced toward the window. The sun was just setting, but not quite.

"Me, Daddy!" she called, as casually as she could. "Austin got muddy, and I'm trying to clean him up before dinner!"

"So why are you running the shower?" The door handle rattled, and then Daddy's voice grew hard. "Alyssa! You know what I said about locking doors. Open up this minute!"

"Wait, Daddy!" Alyssa cried. She ran to the tub, reached behind the curtain, and turned off the water. "Hey!" Austin yelled. "I've had just about enough of-"

"Alyssa Ann!" Daddy called sternly. "What is going on in there?" He rattled the knob. "Nothing, Daddy!" Alyssa called back desperately. "That was the radio!" Then Daddy got the door open, and she groaned. The jig was up! Daddy loomed over her.

"Young lady," he began, then stopped short as he looked past her at the tub. Alyssa shut her eyes. "Why, honey," Daddy said in a different tone, "if you were being a good girl and helping Mommy and me out by giving A.J. his bath, why didn't you say so?" He smiled. "Anyway, I just came up to give you this." He held up Alyssa's birthday locket in one hand.

Stunned, Alyssa opened her eyes and turned around. A.J. sat in the tub, up to his waist in water. He was playing with Rubber Ducky, and when Alyssa peered in behind the shower curtain he looked up at her and smiled. "Abba-abba!" he gurgled happily.