Pam pushed her chair back from the table. She was glad it was Helen’s turn to help with the dishes. But Helen stood up and said, “Come on, Mother. We have to go or we will be late.”
“Go where?” Daddy asked.
“It’s Helen’s orchestra practice tonight,” Mother told him.
Mr. Young looked at his wife with concern. “You’re tired enough now to call it a day,” he said. “If I didn’t have that man coming—”
Mother got up from the table and picked up a few of the dishes. “No, I can take her,” she said. “I’ll go on to Aunt Nona’s and wait there until Helen is through.”
Pam slipped out of her chair and went quickly to her room while the rest of the family was talking.
The next day was Mother’s birthday, and Pam was painting a card for her. She had finished the design in art class at school. It was a picture of a vase of beautiful red roses, Mother’s favorite flower. Tonight Pam must do the gold lettering.
As Pam worked in her room, she heard the car go out of the driveway. Mother must have stacked the dishes in the sink. She and Helen hadn’t had time to wash them. Pam shrugged and turned to her painting. The dishes were not her responsibility for that night. It was Helen’s turn to help with them. “I LOVE” painted slowly and carefully.
A tapping on the window startled her. But it was only her girl friend, Leslie, who lived across the driveway.
“Come on out,” she urged when Pam opened the window. “I have something to show you.”
“I can’t. I have to finish the card I’m painting for my mother’s birthday tomorrow.”
“Please, Pam. Just for a minute,” Leslie pleaded.
“W–well—just for a minute,” Pam finally consented.
Leslie had a new bike. She let Pam ride it to the end of the block. When Pam came back, they sat on the front steps and talked until Pam said she must go in and finish her card.
She was settled at her desk again when the doorbell rang. “Not another interruption,” she thought impatiently. “I’ll never get this card finished.”
But this time it was only the man who had come to see her father.
“YOU” she painted. Then she held the card at arm’s length from her to be sure it looked right. She wished the man visiting her father would go home so she could show the card to her father. She had to sign her name, and then the card would be finished. She shouldn’t have talked to Leslie so long. She was really getting tired and sleepy. Maybe a glass of orange juice would wake her up.
Pam went to the kitchen. In the sink and on the stove were the unwashed dishes and pans. She really had forgotten about them. Of course Mother would do them when she got home, for she would not leave them until morning. There was always too much of a rush then. Instead of getting the orange juice, Pam turned and went slowly back to her room.
At her desk she picked up the card for her mother and read the words she had painted, “I LOVE YOU.” Her mouth drew into a troubled pucker, and she frowned as she read the words again, aloud, “I LOVE YOU.”