What a waste of a perfectly fantastic day, she fumed inwardly, to have to spend it cleaning my room. She looked glumly at the jumble of clothing, shoes, books, and stuffed animals that was her side of the room. She had been here an hour and made very little progress.
Sighing, she scanned the perfect order of her sister Brenna’s half. Bed made without a wrinkle, books on the shelf, shoes and clothes in the closet, everything arranged neatly on the dresser top.
Anyway, I’d rather be messy, thought Katie rebelliously. It’s more fun.
Her eyes lingered for a moment on the dresser. In the centre was a small, black velvet box. Brightening a little, Katie decided to take one peek.
Inside the box was a dainty gold ring, with a tiny emerald stone set in an exquisite rose. Katie held the ring up to the window, turning it this way and that in the sunlight.
“There it is!” she exclaimed to no one in particular. “BMH, for Barbara Mae Henderson. Mom’s maiden name!”
David looked up at the sound of her voice, and his face broke into a happy grin.
“Kitty,” he said, holding up the plastic kitten.
Katie smiled down at him, then studied the tiny engraved letters inside the band. BMH also stood for Brenna Maureen Higgins. Emerald, Mom’s birthstone, was also Brenna’s. Years ago, the ring had been a birthday gift from Dad to Mom. Yesterday, Mom gave it to Brenna for her sixteenth birthday. Tonight Dad and Mom were taking Brenna out for dinner, and she would wear the ring.
Katie slipped the ring on her finger, admiring the way it glittered in the sunlight.
“Pitty,” said David, pointing to the ring. “Pitty.”
“Yes,” smiled his sister.
Hastily she dropped the ring into the open box on the bed.
“Come on, David, let’s go to Mama,” she said, hurrying downstairs.
Her mother asked her to dry the lunch dishes, then pick up some milk at Bailey’s Grocery. When David toddled into the kitchen, Mom added, “Take him with you.”
As Katie grasped the chubby hand, David fixed his wide blue eyes solemnly on hers, and said, “Pitty. Kitty. Pitty. Kitty.”
“Really, David?” Ruffling his blond curls affectionately, she wondered, Now what did he mean by that?
At the store, Katie met Heather, who had been her best friend since five years ago when they were in second grade.
“Hi Heather! Whatcha doin’?”
“Nothin’ much. Just spending my babysitting money,” said Heather as she reached for a Nutty Crunch chocolate bar. “How ’bout you?”
“Mom asked me to buy some milk. Wanna come home with me? I’m supposed to be cleaning my room, but it’ll be more fun if you’re there.”
“Sure! As long as I don’t have to help you!” grinned Heather.
At home, Mom scooped David up into her arms. “Come on, kiddo. Time for your nap.” Katie heard him saying, “Pitty. Kitty,” as they mounted the stairs.
Katie returned to her room. There sat the black velvet box on the bed, where she had left it. The ring was gone!
“Oh no!” she whispered. “Oh no! It can’t be! It has to be here!”
After a hurried explanation to Heather, both girls dived in, searching frantically through the confusion for clues that might lead to the ring.
All the while, Katie was berating herself.
“How could I be so stupid? How could I have just left it on the bed? Why did I ever touch it?”
The ring was nowhere to be found.
“Well, Heather,” Katie said, finally, “I guess we’ll simply have to do what I was supposed to do in the first place. Clean my room. Ugh! That ring is so small, it could be hiding under any little scrap of paper.”
The first commuter train whistle blew, reminding Katie how soon Dad would return from work.
“Dad’s coming home in half an hour! And Brenna’s done babysitting at Smiths’ at the same time! Oh, Heather! What if it doesn’t show up? Mom will never forgive me. Brenna’ll kill me. And Dad….”
“Katie, stop it!” commanded Heather. “We’ll find the ring. We have to. Now stop stewing, and start cleaning!”
With renewed vigour, the girls began a race to beat the clock.
Suddenly Heather laughed. “Hey! What’s this?”
“Just my bedroom slipper,” shrugged Katie.
“Oh. Uh… do you always keep crayons in your slippers?”
“That’s David’s doing,” laughed Katie. “Look, here’s a pile of cars and wooden blocks in my dresser drawer!”
At last the room was tidy. All but one dress shoe, tucked away in the shadows under the bed. Picking it up, Katie discovered another of David’s deposits. She shook the shoe. Out fell three plastic kittens – and one gold ring!
“Heather!” she yelped. “I found it!”
She examined the ring for any damage.
Just then David, drowsy from sleep, stumbled into the room. At the sight of the ring, his eyes widened, and he reached for it, squealing, “Pitty! Kitty!”
“Oh, no!” laughed Katie. “This is going right back where it belongs!”
As she returned the box to the dresser, a funny thought struck her.
“Pitty. Kitty. You don’t suppose…. Heather! I think David was telling me all along, where the ring was.
He called it ‘pitty’ when I tried it on. He must have been telling me he put the ‘pretty’ with his ‘kitties’!”
“Why didn’t you suspect David if you knew he liked to hide things?” Heather asked.
“Too worried to think, I guess. He only started hiding things a few days ago. Besides, I thought he was right behind me when Mom called me. Now I remember he didn’t show up in the kitchen till several minutes after I did.”
The girls laughed together and started downstairs, this time making sure David was following them.
As Katie heard Dad and Brenna come in the front door, she couldn’t help thinking that being tidy might be a good idea after all, if it meant fewer things lying around for David to hide!
© Willena Flewelling
The story is fiction, but the ring is real. It was a gift from my father to my mother on her 20th birthday, a combination birthday and pre-engagement ring. My mom gave it to me when I grew up, because not only I her namesake, but I was born in the same month. I gave it to my eldest daughter when she grew up. She also happens to be my namesake. 🙂