Cindy, Mindy and Bob; Thief
Cindy, Mindy, and Bob began as bedtime stories for my children many years ago. Over the years, Cindy, Mindy and Bob have grown, changed, died, been saved and revived. The three older kids personified Cindy, Mindy and Bob. Now they live in our three younger children, to continue teaching morals, values, and good old tradition.
Cindy ran quickly. The fastest girl on the track team, she was also the smallest. And the youngest. It wasn’t her fault. She had skipped kindergarten, and her birthday was late in the fall. She started school more than a year ahead of other kids her age. Now, she was the youngest kid in the school. As she rounded the top of the hill, she noticed some older girls on the track team, huddled in the alley.
Cindy kept running, wondering what they were doing back there. She didn’t know them well, and she knew to keep her distance. Those older girls could make her life miserable. She sprinted the final blocks to the school, well ahead of most of the team. Two boys finished as she ran up. The first girl, third overall. Cindy loved to run. She felt free and light and fast.
The next day at track practice, an eighth grade girl approached, “Hi Cindy. We noticed you’re pretty fast. Do you want to run with us today?”
Flattered, Cindy followed her to a small gathering of older girls. “Everyone, this is Cindy. Cindy, this is our group. You can hang out if you want.” The coach began talking at the other end of the parking lot. Cindy couldn’t hear what she said, but she didn’t want to appear rude.
“Did any of you hear what coach said?” she wondered aloud. The girls laughed, joking about what a jerk the coach was, and how strict. None of them had listened to the announcement, and Cindy’s stomach churned. She was afraid she might miss something important. It was nice to have some new friends though. So far, junior high hadn’t been much fun. Cindy didn’t know many people and she often felt lonely. She was glad these girls had befriended her.
The track team started out, and Cindy’s new friends hung back, the last of the runners to get started. Again, Cindy’s stomach churned. She always started at the front, with the boys. She knew a few people up there, and she didn’t really like running at the back. Breathing deeply, she decided not to make waves, and she ran easily alongside her new friends.
At the top of the hill, about a mile from the school, the girls turned off the road and trotted down an alley. “Come on Cindy, break time,” one of the girls called.
Cindy shook her head, “I’m just going to catch up with the team. I’ll see you at the school.” Cindy finished her run near the end of the team. She hated being with the last group of runners. Coach frowned slightly as Cindy came in.
“You sick today, Cindy? Saturday is our first track meet. Maybe you should take it easy for a couple of days.”
“Saturday?” Cindy didn’t know about the upcoming track meet. Embarrassed she stared at her feet sorry she had missed the announcement. “Can I still sign up for my events, or is it too late?”
Coach breathed an exasperated sigh, “You need to pay attention to the announcements. I said to sign up after practice today. Anyone who doesn’t sign up will get placed in the events where we are short of runners. Think you can remember that?”
As Cindy headed to the locker room to find the sign up sheet, she spotted her “friends” from earlier. They laughed and joked. As Cindy approached, one called to her, “Hey, where you going?”
“I’m going to sign up for the track meet.” Cindy felt nervous by the sudden attention of the older girls. They seemed nice enough, but there was something she couldn’t put her finger on. As she headed toward the locker room they continued laughing. Cindy flushed deeply, worried their laughs were aimed at her shoddy tennis shoes, or her loose fitting shorts. She walked quickly until the clanging of the heavy gym door shut out the laughs.
Saturday dawned bright and cold. Sun shone over a frosted landscape. Mommy and Daddy drove Cindy to meet the bus for her first track meet. In her duffle bag she put her cell phone, lunch money, snacks and ipod. Her track clothes lay folded over everything else.
“Good luck sweetheart, “ Daddy kissed the top of her head as she leaned into the drivers window.
Mommy leaned over to kiss her as well, “I know you’ll do great. Have fun.”
On the bus, the older girls commandeered the back seats, five of them spread their belongings over several rows of seats, taking up too much room. As Cindy looked for a seat near the front, they called her.
“Hey Cindy, come back here. We saved a seat for you.” Some of the other sixth grade girls looked questioningly, wondering how Cindy had gained popularity. Nervously, she wandered to the back of the bus. Each girl had her own seat, while up front the kids sat two to a seat. One free seat remained, and it was here that she put her duffel bag.
Climbing anxiously onto the seat, she put her headphones in and dug for her book. Feeling a tap on the shoulder, she looked up. Coach was telling her to make room for someone else. Looking back, Cindy saw her new friends shaking their heads, objecting to the intrusion. Not only was the intruder another sixth grader, he was a boy. Cindy liked him, but she wasn’t about to let anyone know that. Instead, she glared at the boy and at Coach, and slid over with an exasperated huff. The two-hour ride she spent, peering over the top of her book, staring at his beautiful blonde head.
At the track meet, Cindy ran in one of the first events. After finishing, she headed up the bleachers, to find her drink. Sitting around her duffle bag were the bigger girls. They were going through her stuff, looking at her cell phone, and eating her candy bar. Cindy looked confused.
“Oh, hi”, one of the girls said brightly. “We knew you wouldn’t mind sharing your lunch.” The girls put her phone back and asked about her race. Cindy sat down, angry, feeling violated.
“Would you please not go through my stuff, “ she asked. She felt afraid to make them mad, but she didn’t like the feeling in her stomach.
“Whatever.” Came the terse reply from the girls as they headed down the bleachers without her. “We thought you were cool.” The girls sashayed down the row, and settled a few seats below Cindy.
She heard herself apologizing, as she moved to join them. She hated being alone, and she hadn’t made many friends in junior high yet. Giggling, the girls looked up as Cindy approached.
“What do you want?” one girl asked tersely. They looked at each other, laughing and went back to ignoring Cindy. They rifled through a duffle bag, sitting open on the bleachers. One girl removed an ipod, placed one earphone in her ear and gave the other to her friend. Theirs heads bumped together as they scrolled through the songs. Another girl removed a bag of beef jerky and handed Cindy a piece.
“Here, you can share our snacks. Even though you didn’t want to share with us. No hard feelings. “
Somewhat relieved, Cindy sat down while the other girls drank the last of the Gatorade. As a group of boys headed up the bleachers, the girls gathered up their belongings, “Come on Cindy, we’re going to check out the guys on the other team.” As they headed off, Cindy noticed the duffel bag, zipper open wide, contents strewn across several rows.
“You guys, do you want me to pick up your stuff, “ she called after them. They continued their descent, not looking back. Hurriedly, Cindy hopped down the steps to join them. As she drew near, the announcer called for the two hundred meter hurdles.
“That’s my event, I have to go.” Cindy waved good-by as she headed across the track. After running her race, her friends were nowhere to be found. Cindy was glad for her book. She sat reading until the last event, the medley relay. She headed down again for her last race.
On the bus, Cindy took her seat in the back. Her new friends already occupied most of the seats, and she was kind of glad to see them. Her day had been mostly lonely. Two of the girls still listened to their ipod. Others were texting with their phones, and no one spoke as she sat down. Cindy worried that the girls were still angry with her for not sharing her lunch.
As the bus headed home, Cindy began to doze off. One of the older girls quietly slipped into her seat. “Hey Cindy, would you do me a favor?”
Disoriented, Cindy startled awake, “Um, sure. What do you need?”
“Could you please hold on to my cell phone? I don’t want my parents to see that I’ve been texting. I’ll tell them I lost it at track.”
Confused, but wanting friends, Cindy answered, “Sure. When do you want it back?”
“Bring it to school Monday, and I’ll get it then. Thanks.” With that, the other girl bounced back to her own seat.
Cindy put the phone in her duffel bag, and didn’t give it another thought. It rang periodically throughout the weekend, but she didn’t bother to answer it. She didn’t want to get her new friend in trouble.
At track practice on Monday, Cindy ran with her new friends. They stayed at the back of the group, and at the top of the hill, they turned off the course. “We are gonna head home, instead of back to the track. You wanna leave with us?”
Cindy knew her parents would be picking her up, and she didn’t want any trouble. “No thanks, my parents are coming. Do you want your phone back?”
“Keep it in your locker. I’ll get it tomorrow. “ With that, the girls headed away from the school, and toward downtown. Cindy ran quickly, trying to catch the rest of the team.
As the last of the runners approached the track, Coach blew a whistle. “Team meeting, gymnasium. Everybody needs to be there.”
Runners milled about the gym, waiting for the last of the team. When everyone finally assembled, Coach announced, “Kids, we have a problem. Someone from this team raided duffel bags at the track meet on Saturday. A lot of stuff was stolen, including food, money, an ipod, and a phone. Anyone who knows anything needs to see me after practice.”
As she headed into the locker room, Cindy felt a pit in her stomach. She decided to look at the cell phone, to find out whom it belonged to. As she scrolled through the contact list, she realized that it belonged to a boy, in another town. Cindy returned the phone to her bag, unsure what to do.
All through dinner, Cindy remained quiet. Mommy and Daddy, tired of asking her what was wrong, talked cheerfully to the little kids. Cindy had never felt so alone and confused. She didn’t want to get in trouble. She didn’t want her friends to get in trouble. There was no way around it. They had stolen, and so had she.
Mommy came into her room later, to tuck her in bed. Sitting on the edge of Cindy’s bed, Mommy asked, “What’s bothering you, Sweetheart?”
Before Cindy had a chance to answer, the stolen phone began to ring again. The ringtone was peculiar and clamorous.
“What is that awful noise?” Mommy crinkled her eyebrows at the terrible racket.
“Um… It’s just my phone.”
“Well, turn it off. I can hardly concentrate to kiss you good night. Who is calling you at this hour? Get me your phone.”
Cindy froze, not knowing what to do. The noise continued.
“Cindy, shut it off. What is wrong with you?”
Red faced and ashamed, Cindy drew the stolen phone from her bag. ‘What is this? This isn’t your phone.”
Cindy tried to explain to Mommy. Mommy immediately called Daddy. Daddy immediately called the contact on the phone labeled “Home”. Daddy told the people that he had their phone.
The next day, Cindy had to face Coach. Mommy and Daddy had grounded her, and now it was up to her to tell the truth. She sat in Coach’s office, head hanging, tears of shame dripping off her nose. She explained how she had acquired the phone. She tried not to tell the other girls’ names, but Coach wouldn’t let her off the hook. Cindy felt like a dirty rat. Sadly, Coach kicked her off the track team, along with the other girls. Now Cindy felt as if she had no friends.
She did learn a valuable lesson. Cindy learned not to tolerate lying and stealing from her friends. And she learned to pick better friends.