"It Started with a Mulberry"
“Welcome back!” Andi gave her sister Katherine a hug. “It’s so good to see you again!” she turned and gave Betsy and Hannah a hug, but kindly refrained from giving Levi one.
“Come on, I want to show you something.” Andi scooped Hannah into her arms and led Levi & Betsy to a tree behind the ranch house laden with green, pink and purple berries.
|Mulberries turn pink then red when ripening, then dark purple or black.|
“I love mulberries!” Andi exclaimed, pulling a fat, juicy dark-purple berry off the tree and popping it into her mouth. She offered one to her nieces and nephew.
Betsy gave her a shy smile. “I’ve actually never had one before,” she said.
Andi smiled. “If you’ll help me pick enough, we can see if Louisa will make us a mulberry pie for supper,” she said. “You’ll never have tasted anything as good! Well . . . almost, anyway.”
Levi picked a pink mulberry off the tree. “Here, try this one.” he handed it to Betsy.
Betsy hesitated. “By the look on your face I don’t know that I should,” she said.
“Oh, just try it,” her brother urged her. “What do you have to lose?”
“Levi...” Andi said warningly.
“I wanna try it,” Hannah said, grabbing the berry out of Betsy’s hand and putting it in her mouth. As she started to chew, her face puckered up and she quickly spit it out. “Yuck!”
Levi doubled over with laughter. “Oh, that was a good one!” he said, wiping tears from his eyes.
Andi’s mouth twitched as she tried not to smile. When she saw Hannah’s lower lip tremble, she said, “Don’t feel bad, Hannah; Chad did the same thing to me when I was little. Only I don’t think I handled it as well as you did.” She thought back seven years ago when Chad had tricked her into eating a pink mulberry; yet he had no idea that playing a trick like that on Andi would result in such consequences . . .
“Chad, where are you taking me?” Six-year-old Andi giggled with excitement as Chad held his hand over her eyes, pulling her with his other hand.
“Just don’t peek,” he replied mysteriously. Finally Chad took his hand off her eyes. “You can look now!”
Andi opened her eyes and gasped in delight. “Oh, the mulberry tree is ripe! I can’t wait to try one.” She jumped and tried to pick a berry, but the branches were too high. “Chad, would you please pick a mulberry for me? It’s too high.”
Chad grinned mischievously. “Sure, sis. How ‘bout this pretty pink one?” At Andi’s eager nodding, he picked a pink berry and handed it to her.
Andi quickly popped it into her mouth and began to chew. She swallowed hard and frowned, saying, “I don’t think I like mulberries.”
That did it. Chad couldn’t hold back his laughter anymore. “Andi, that mulberry wasn’t even ripe!” he said.
The more she heard Chad’s laughter, the more infuriated Andi became. Her hands clenched at her sides, she stomped off.
Andi stormed to the barn and climbed into the loft, curling up in a ball in the corner. Slowly she let her tears fall. Chad had no right to do that to me! she thought indignantly. I ought to go give him a piece of my mind! Well... maybe not. He’d just laugh at me and probably pick me up and throw me over his shoulder again. No, I’d better think of something really good.
Andi was still trying to think of something to get Chad back with when she heard someone climbing the ladder to the loft. Mitch’s head appeared. He came and sat down by his sister.
“C’mon, Andi, it was just a joke,” he said. “Why can’t you take a little joke? You gotta admit, it was pretty funny.” Mitch started to chuckle but stopped when he saw the look on Andi’s face.
Andi scowled. “It was not!” she yelled. Lowering her voice, she said, “I’m going to get Chad back. Wanna help?”
Mitch hesitated. “I don’t know. If Chad’s not in a good mood, this might end badly.”
Andi shrugged. “Then... we have to risk it. Well, are you gonna help me or not?”
Slowly, Mitch nodded, a grin spreading across his face. “I’ve got an idea."
Part 2 (Conclusion) tomorrow . . .