It was a mystery to Kalynn how other children kept their tennis shoes white. Rachel had kept her tennis shoes white for 6 months...and she actually wore them. The only way Kalynn knew to keep shoes white for more than 10 minutes was to leave them in the closet. No matter how she studied the problem, she still could not understand how Rachel and her friends did it."Maybe they are not doing the same things that you are," Kalynn's mother suggested.
It was possible. Kalynn didn't pay much attention to Rachel and her friends. Perhaps they found a way to be more careful.
The day came when Kalynn outgrew her old tennis shoes, and her mother bought her a new white pair with purple edging. They were beautiful, and Kalynn eyed them admiringly.
"I hope they stay white," Kalynn said.
The next day, Kalynn went to spend the day with her friends. In the car on the way, she looked dubiously at her new white shoes.
"I'm going to try and keep them white," Kalynn told her mother. She reached down to brush a fuzz away from the laces.
"Maybe you can play with Rachel today, and you can see how she keeps her shoes white," her mother suggested.
This seemed like a great idea to Kalynn and she implemented it immediately upon her arrival. She found Rachel, Hope, and Carrie on the back porch and joined them there.
They were sitting at the picnic table.
Just sitting there.
Kalynn took a deep breath and sat down beside Hope.
"Did you know the Newsboys are going to be in Virginia next month? I'm hoping my mom will get tickets," Carrie said.
"Do you think their drummer is cute?" Hope asked.
Kalynn squeezed her fists together under the table and wiggled her toes. It was so hard to sit still. She hoped Rachel and her friends were going to do something soon. This conversation was boring her to tears.
"Kalynn! Kalynn! Come on!" she heard a shout. She looked up to see Abby waving to her from the far side of back yard. "We need you on our team! You're the fastest runner!"
Kalynn's legs ached to join them, but she waved back. "Nah, you go ahead without me," she shouted.
For a moment, Rachel, Hope, and Carrie stared at her as though they were trying to understand why somebody like Kalynn was intruding on their turf. But then they settle back into their boring conversation on singers, actors, and actresses. Kalynn still could not believe they were still just sitting there.
As the conversation shifted to the fashion choices of the famous, little Gertie rushed up and clutched the railing of the porch, peering through the bars with a worried countenance. "Kalynn! We need you! Our kite got stuck in the top of the tree! And you're the only one who can climb that high!" she pleaded.
Kalynn's heart beat faster at the thought of retrieving the kite, but she shook her head. "I can't come, Gertie. I'm sitting here right now," she said.
Gertie's eyes opened wide with disbelief and then clouded heavily with disappointment. Kalynn had never failed her before. She opened her mouth to plead again, but Kalynn's chin was set firm. Gertie wandered away to mourn the loss of the kite with her little friends.
Kalynn settled back into her seat at the table with a heavy heart. How long were Rachel and her friends just going to sit here? Unable to focus on the tedious discussion of clothes, Kalynn's eyes strayed to watch her friends running and playing. And the kite hung so tantalizing in the tree top above the group of little mourners whose play was ruined by Kalynn's lack of participation.
"Wanna go for a walk?" Rachel suddenly suggested.
Kalynn breathed an audible sigh of relief. Finally! As the other girls slowly rose from the table, Kalynn scrambled to her feet. It was all she could do to not run and dive off the porch, but she paced herself to match the other girls' movements. She still did not understand how they survived such a long space of inactivity with such grace, and she could not wait until they started playing so Kalynn could see how they kept their shoes white when they played.
The four girls did not talk much as they walked. Kalynn tried to ignore the quizzical glances from Abby and the others, but they cut her heart.
"Do you guys want to play with Abby and them?" Kalynn asked hopefully.
The three girls turned to stare at Kalynn, again seeming to wonder what this creature was doing in their midst, but they did not answer. They just kept walking...
...until Paco, the dog, came loping up to greet them. Grateful to see a friendly face, Kalynn's arms went out to him just as the other girls squealed.
"Ewwww! Gross! Disgusting! He's been in the pond!!! He's all muddy!" they protested.
Kalynn tucked her shoes out of the way just in time as Paco collided with her, wagging his tail delightedly. Kalynn scratched behind his ears as she glanced down at herself. Her arms, shirt, and pants all had huge smearings of mud across them. But her shoes were still white.
Rachel and the other two were walking on so Kalynn ran to join them. Paco followed happily, but Rachel turned on him. "Paco! Go away! If you don't go away, I'll get somebody to lock you up. You're disgusting," she scolded him.
Paco's tail stopped wagging and he dropped his head dejectedly as he padded away. Kalynn knew exactly how he felt. She felt as locked up as he did.
"It's hot," complained Hope.
"Wanna go inside? I have a magazine with a bunch of Newsboys pictures," Rachel offered.
"Are you guys gonna play any?" Kalynn queried.
The three girls looked at her as if she had 2 heads. Then they headed back to the house.
Kalynn didn't move. She was thinking. Her shoes were still white, but she had just spent the most miserable half hour of her life doing nothing. That was no way to live. White shoes were not worth it. She pitied Rachel and her friends.
"Kalynn! We need you! We're losing!" came a shout from the field where Abby and her friends were playing.
At that moment, Paco returned, shoving his muddy nose under Kalynn's hand and pleading for a petting. Kalynn looked down to see a big muddy paw print on her shoe. She felt like laughing; she was so happy.
"I'll be right there!" she shouted to her friends. "I'll come in a minute! I just got to get Gertie's kite down first!"
As Kalynn fairly flew across the yard to rescue the kite, she rejoiced in the decision that she would never again let something as silly as clothes run her life. There was so much more to "living" than white shoes. Hurray!