"I don't want to GO!" She stomped her foot emphatically. "I don't like it there." The brown curls on her head shook emphatically with the motion. She didn't like dressing up, and she certainly didn't like wearing shoes. Especially her dress shoes--they were tight and stiff and she had to keep them extra clean, which meant no running and no climbing.
"I know, Sophie," her mother said. "But it's important for us to go." She took a clean handkerchief out of her dresser drawer and tucked it into the pocket of her sweater. She looked down at her daughter. "Jake would have wanted us to, you know."
Sophie sat down in a huff on the settee by the front door. She felt squished in her shoes and she curled and released her toes, thinking about Jake. She had liked him, when he still lived nearby. He was strong and big and funny and he loved to play with her and sing songs with her and tell her stories.
Then Jake had had to leave so suddenly one day, she barely remembered him saying good bye. It was early in the morning and he and Mother were standing in the kitchen. Mother was in her bathrobe. Jake was dressed strangely--all in the same color with a big heavy sack on his shoulder. They were talking in soft voices so they wouldn't wake anyone.
"Be safe, Jake," mother said. Her voice sounded scratchy, like it did at church when "How Great Thou Art" was sung.
"I will, ma'am." Jake said. "I don't exactly know why it's me, why it's now, but it's come down to it and I know there's something important for me to do. Just like you always said, 'You're put here to do something no one else can do.' Now I know what that is. I hope I can do it."
Mother had always said that Jake was a good friend of Sophie's oldest brother, who had died when Sophie was just a baby. She didn't really remember her brother, but she thought he would have been just like Jake. Everyone liked Jake. He had a way with people--helped them calm down, feel better, smile more. There was never a fight he didn't help solve, never a mopey little Sophie he couldn't cheer up.
She never did understand why he left. That early morning, so early it was still dark, he had told her he needed to help other people far away. She thought those other people would like him, too. She hoped they did.
[...to be continued]