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A Surprise Party
Abby, Age 15, Covington, LA

Candace Whitcomb sang heartily, finishing her last song with much gusto. How she loved singing in this church. She delighted in the sound of the organ and the congregation’s voices joining together in harmony.

Her gaze caught William Emmons smiling at her with a kind of fierce pity as she sat down. This man who normally walked her home after singing and services had suddenly grown quite distant. Puzzled, she looked away, not wanting to see the change in him.

As the service ended Candace gathered her things with shaking hands. Afraid to meet up with William she hurried out. Shrugging into her warm shawl, she walked down the lane. The brisk chill in the air spoke of winter.

“Candace!”

At the sound of her name, she spun quickly, knowing full well who the speaker was. William stood there in the lane looking softly at her.

“Yes?” Candace huffed. Covering the tender feelings rising up in her with briskness, she turned away.

“May I walk you home?” he asked. William gazed at Candace, puzzled at the harshness in her voice.

“I suppose, if you must,” she replied.

Walking up to where she stood, William tucked her hand in his arm and they walked the rest of the way to her little house beside the church in silence. At the gate Candace turned.

“Good-bye William. Thank you for your politeness.”

She turned, and walked into her house.

“Good-bye Candace. I pray you have a restful day.”

Closing the door behind her, Candace wondered what William would find to do to fill the rest of his day. She felt a bit sorry for how she had treated him, but felt it was the only way to hide the true feelings inside her heart.

A short while later, a knock sounded at the door, startling her from the nap she had only just started. Rising, she went to the door, unsure of who might be calling on a Sunday afternoon. As she pulled open the door, a shrill “Surprise!” rang out in the still, sweet air.

Shocked to see half of the women from church standing in her front doorway, Candace forced out a greeting. Suddenly women filled her parlor and dining room. Bustling about, they set refreshments on the table and set a gift-wrapped box in the parlor. Feeling faint, Candace sank down into her favorite chair.

“Candace, my dear, we wanted to throw you a party to let you know how much we enjoy your singing on Sundays. You are very much appreciated, and we wanted to make sure you knew that,” crooned Tilda.

Tilda was one of the elderly, grandmotherly type ladies from church, who even at eighty had more energy than a toddler.

During the next half hour the ladies took turns complimenting Candace, and it was a very merry time. Candace was feeling very happy and grateful for the ladies.

As the ladies cleaned up and were about to depart, Tilda told Candace about the gift.

“It’s just a little thank you gift. Open it after we leave. We hope you enjoy it,” she explained.

After the last lady walked through the door, Candace shut it, went over to the gift, and picked it up. Opening it, she saw a lovely photograph album. Picking it up, a letter fluttered to the ground, and she quickly picked it up and read it. Anger and sorrow started bubbling up in her heart as she saw that the letter was giving her notice to quit.

Outraged at the scandalous way the church handled her being fired from the position, Candace threw herself onto her bed and wept. Muttering to herself about how the congregation didn’t consider her feelings, she cried herself to sleep.

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