Feature Potpourri Short Stories

Fractions – A Short Story

Even the most well-meaning parents can be blind to the effects of bullying on their child.

In this story, two very different families come together to help a shy fourth grader who quietly suffers from taunting by classmates.


Fractions – A Short Story


1. Kelly


Becky dashed out of the fitness club, still clammy from the shower.  She hopped into her SUV, breaking a manicured fingernail as she slammed the door.

She cursed under her breath as she scowled at her jagged nail, then glanced at the time.  She was already five minutes late to pick up Jessica after school.

Where was she supposed to take her today, ceramics or piano lessons?  Becky could never keep her daughter’s schedule straight, and it was useless expecting Jessy to remember anything these days.

The girl always seemed to be staring silently out the window at something.  Or at nothing.

What was it with fourth graders?  Becky’s oldest daughter Amy had turned into a mouthy little snit at that age.  She and all her giggly little friends.

Jessy, though, just got quieter and quieter as the school year went along.  Becky would ask if something was wrong, and Jessy would just shake her head and look away.

Pulling into the school parking spaces, Becky spotted Jessy standing off by herself, as always.

Jessy saw her mother, waved and ran toward her car.  Becky swung open the front passenger door for her daughter.

Jessy closed the front door and opened the back door, then slid across to the far side, leaving the door open.

“Jessy, what on earth?  Why are you in the backseat?  Why is the door still open? Close that door.” Becky turned around to grimace at Jessy, cupping her hand over her nose.  “You’re letting in smelly exhaust from all those school buses.”

Jessy looked solemnly at Becky, studying her mother’s hand over her nose.  “You broke a nail.”

“Jessica Marie,” Becky hissed through gritted teeth, “close that door.”

“Okay, but we need to wait for Kelly.  We’re supposed to meet her here. I’ll see if I can find her.”  Jessy slid back across the seat, then climbed out and pushed the door shut.  She raced back to the schoolyard.

“Kelly? What? Who?”  Becky sputtered with exasperation as she turned off her engine.  She thought she knew all of Jessy’s friends, and she didn’t know any named Kelly.

Not that Jessy had that many friends.  Not like her sister Amy, who was always buzzing with a whole swarm of pals.

Becky reminded herself that she wasn’t supposed to compare her daughters.  That’s what all the experts said.

Becky gave her damp hair a fluff while she watched Jessy run toward a small girl carrying a heavy load of books in her arms.  Jessy took some of the books and slid them into her own backpack.

The two girls walked silently back to the car and climbed into the back seat.

“Mom, this is Kelly.”  Jessy sounded cheerier than she had in a long time.

Becky twisted around and forced a smile at the small dark girl in the back seat.  She tried not to notice the smell of old cooking oil that now wafted in her car’s interior.

“Hi, Kelly.”  Becky fought the urge to cover her nose again, and turned to her daughter.  “Jess, I thought you had a lesson today. Piano, isn’t it? Wednesdays? Isn’t today Wednesday?”

“I already talked to Mrs. Jenkins about taking a week off.  She said that was fine.”

“Jessy, you really should have talked to me first before you cancelled piano and brought a friend home for a play date.  This really isn’t going to work out for me today.”

Becky looked back at Kelly, and flashed what she hoped to be an apologetic smile.  Where on earth did Jessy find this girl?

“Maybe the two of you can do a Build-A-Bear next week while I do my shopping.  Doesn’t that sound fun, girls? Have you ever done a Build-A-Bear, Kelly? Isn’t it fun, Jessy?  I think it’s fun.”  Becky pulled a rumpled tissue out of her purse and dabbed her nose.

Kelly stared back with big serious eyes.

“This just isn’t going to work for me today, Jess, you having a friend over,” Becky repeated.  “Did you forget Dad and I have lots of guests coming over in a couple hours? The cocktail party?  I have to go pick up everything now.  Sushi and all that other stuff.  Then I need to get dressed and get ready.”

Becky glanced again at her broken nail.  At this rate, she wouldn’t have time to run to the salon and have it repaired in time for the party.  Entertaining all her husband’s stupid golf buddies and their stupider wives.

She could just imagine what her party guests would think if they saw little Kelly.  Or smelled her.

“This isn’t a play date, Mom.”  Jessy leaned forward and handed Becky a sealed white envelope.

Becky stifled a sigh as she ripped it open.  Well, this looks official.

She was never going to get to the deli before it closed, to pick up all the appetizers for her stupid party with Bill’s stupid friends.

What had happened to their lives?  It seemed like just yesterday she and Bill were in college, when a party meant chips and beer, laughing and singing to Bill’s tuneless guitar. No plans, no nothing.  Things just happened in their own time back then.

Becky cracked her window to try to get some fresh air, and unfolded the handwritten letter on her lap.


Dear Mrs. Collins,

You may recall our last parent-teacher conference, when we discussed Jessica’s math scores.  We discussed giving Jessica positive reinforcement and having her spend more time on her math homework.

I allowed Jessica to get a C in math on her last report card, because she did some extra credit work and stayed inside to help me with the bulletin boards during recess.

I am afraid that Jessica has fallen farther behind in math since then.  We are now studying fractions, and your daughter is struggling very much. 

We have started a new program called Math Buddies.  We pair up students with differing levels of progress, and have them study together a few hours each week and some extra time on weekends, if that works out for both families.

We encourage our students to study at each other’s homes whenever possible, to provide a comfortable, nurturing environment and to build new friendships.

We have paired Jessica with Kelly Jones to work on fractions together.  Kelly won last term’s Mathlete Gold Medal. She also won the school Spelling Bee, and will be competing at District next month.  Perhaps she could help Jessica with her spelling, as well.

We planned to give our Math Buddy students and parents a week to develop a study schedule.  However, I feel it is best, given Jessica’s current grades, for her to become Kelly’s Math Buddy immediately.

You will find Kelly to be a patient, compassionate tutor for your daughter. She has a maturity far beyond her years.

I will be contacting you soon to see how you and your husband feel about your daughter’s progress in our new Math Buddy program.

For now, Mrs. Collins, please give it a chance.


Angela Martin

Fourth Grade Teacher

Jefferson Elementary School


Becky closed her eyes and squeezed the letter in her sweaty hand.  From bad to worse. What more could ruin her disastrous day?  

A quiet voice broke into her swirling thoughts.  “Mrs. Collins?”

Becky looked hopelessly down at the damp crumpled letter.  “Yes, Kelly?”

“We can go to my home, if you have other commitments.  My mom won’t mind.”

Becky took a deep breath. “Well, Kelly, I’m not sure about that.  I should talk to your mother first.” Who knew how Jessy would smell, after a few hours at Kelly’s house.   

“It’s okay,” Kelly soothed.  “I have four brothers, and we have lots of kids over all the time.”

Becky saw a faint glimmer of hope in this plan.  The last thing in the world she wanted, besides not having Smelly Kelly at her house during their party, was another tense visit with Jessy’s teacher.

“Well,” stammered Becky, “we have to think about Jessy’s dinner, at this point.”

“Jessica can stay for dinner.  My mom won’t mind.”

I can just imagine what Jessy would get for dinner, Becky thought.  Something deep fried.  

But still…she didn’t want to have to tell Bill again about Jessy’s bad math grades.  She couldn’t explain to her accountant husband again that Jessy just didn’t like numbers, much less fractions.

Fractions. Of all things. Just breaking something down into smaller bits.  That’s all there was to fractions. She just couldn’t get that through to Jessy.  Maybe Kelly could.

Kelly’s soft voice interrupted Becky’s jumbled thoughts.

“I live really close to here, Mrs. Collins.  It’s a short drive. Then you can start working on your party.  You can come get Jessica when it’s over. Or my mom can take her home.  She wouldn’t mind. She does it all the time.”

“Oh, no, Kelly,” Becky said quickly.  “I don’t want to put your mother out. I can pick up Jessy.” 

Just my luck, Becky thought grimly, Jessy is paired up with genius daughter of Supermom.  

Becky started the engine and turned to look at Kelly.  “Which way?” She tried to sound cheerful.

“Turn right at the light.  I’ll guide you from there.”

Becky followed Kelly’s directions.  When they approached the Greenway Apartment complex, Becky grimaced.  She and some other mothers had been trying to get the city council to condemn those apartments, and move the tenants into the next town’s low income housing.  

Or at least put up a tall fence and slap some paint on those crumbling buildings.  They ruined the look of the community. And who knew what havoc those Greenway kids were wreaking on our schools.

“Turn right at the next entrance,” Kelly said.  “At the sign that says Greenway Apartments. Our building is on the left, toward the back.”  She and Jessy started collecting their school things.

Great, thought Becky.  Just great. She flipped on her blinker.

“Don’t you have a skateboard park near here?”  Jessy asked hopefully. “I hear about it at school.  I’d love to learn to skateboard. But we don’t have one.”

“My brothers skateboard all the time,” Kelly answered.  “You could borrow one of theirs. All the kids share our skateboards.  We all take turns sharing our one helmet, too. You could share our helmet, like everyone else.”  Kelly paused.  “If it’s all right with your mom, that is.”

“Ohhh….”  Becky deflated like a balloon.  From the smelly frying pan into the fire.  She’d be picking lice nits out of Jessy’s hair while she was having her bones set in the Emergency Room.  Wouldn’t Bill be delighted.

All to learn fractions.  Becky pulled into a parking spot and rubbed her eyes.  Fractions. Things breaking down into crumbly little pieces. 

Kelly led them to the stairwell.  “Our apartment is on the third floor. The top floor.  We have a great view of the skateboard park from our kitchen window.”  

“Oh, wow, how cool,” Jessy said excitedly.  Becky couldn’t remember the last time she saw her daughter so animated.

Halfway to the second floor, they passed a burly blonde boy going down, carrying a skateboard.  He punched Kelly’s arm as he passed. “Hey lil sis. Growin’ anything yet?”

Becky watched the small dark girl sock him back, hard.  “Knock it off, bro. We got company.”

“Hi, Jake,” Jessy said shyly.

“Hey, Jessica Rabbit.  Like your shirt today. All pink and rosy and stuff.”  Jake punched Jessy, but much softer than he had punched his sister, and headed on down the stairs.

Becky turned around to see her daughter blush a rosier pink than her shirt.

Jessica looked down at her feet.  “That’s Jake Nelson. Kelly’s brother.  He’s in sixth grade.”

“Nelson?  But I thought Kelly’s last name was…never mind.”  Now it was Becky’s turn to blush while they continued their climb.

“All of us have different last names,” Kelly said matter-of-factly, as she rustled in her pocket for her keys.  “We’re almost there. Third door on the left.”

Kelly opened the door to a barrage of sights and smells.  A big screen blared in the corner of the main room.


2. Jonas


A shaggy haired man sat staring at the TV and eating a bowl of Lucky Charms, with the cereal box and milk carton by his bare feet.  The congealed remains of a pizza sat on the dining room table.

“This is my Uncle Jonas.  My mom’s brother.  He lives with us.”  Kelly started clearing the refuse from the dining room table. “Uncle Jonas, this is Jessica and her mother Mrs. Collins.  Jessica is my new fractions friend.”  

Uncle Jonas grunted a greeting while flipping channels.  Kelly disappeared into the kitchen, then came back with a soapy sponge.

Jessy dropped her backpack in a corner.  “Can I help?” she chirped.

“Sure.  You wash the table.  I’ll get my fractions kit.  It’s how I teach fractions to all the kids around here.”

“You’re going to do your homework here?”  Becky was aghast. “With all this noise?” She turned to Uncle Jonas, who was refilling his cereal bowl.  He had flipped the channel to car racing.  Roaring engines and squealing tires filled the room.  

Becky pursed her lips.  “Do you think you could possibly turn down that–”

“It’s okay Mom,” Jessy said quickly as she scrubbed the table.  “It doesn’t bother us. Does it, Kelly? I’m done washing the table.  Do you want me to take the sponge back to the kitchen?”

“Sure. We can wash up, and then I’ll slice some apples so we have a little snack before we start.”

Becky followed the girls into the cluttered kitchen and watched Kelly deftly slice apples and slide them into a foil pie tin.  She wouldn’t even let Jessy touch sharp knives at home.

Jessy peered out the tiny window.  “Oh, I can see the skateboard park from here!”  She flushed again and looked down.  “And there is Jake.  Talking to that Tammy from fifth grade.”

“Tammy’s a flirt.  She talks to all the boys.”  Kelly rinsed the cutting board and knife and put them in the dishwasher, then added a dollop of peanut butter to the middle of the pie tin.  

She neatly arranged the apple slices around the peanut butter, then carried the pie pan to the table with some paper napkins. Jessy watched in awe. 

“Mrs. Collins, would you like to join us?  I can make you some tea. My mom has tea bags and sugar cubes.”

Jessy jumped in before Becky could respond to the invitation.  “My mom needs to go and get ready for her party. Don’t you, Mom?”  Jessy looked at her imploringly.

“Well…I don’t think I should leave before Kelly’s mother gets home.”  Becky glanced at Uncle Jonas in the next room, polishing off his latest bowl of Lucky Charms.

“That’s fine, Mrs. Collins.  I understand. Help yourself to apples.”  Kelly smiled. “Would you like to see my fractions kit?  Many kids have found it very helpful. You and Jessica can sit down at the table.  It should be dry by now.”

“Oh. Sure.  That would be, um, very nice.”  Becky pulled out a kitchen chair with duct tape holding the vinyl seat together and sat down gingerly.  Jessy sat across the table from Becky, trying to avoid her mother’s eyes.

Kelly went into a closet and came back with a battered shoe box.  Inside were a collection of zipper lunch bags filled with colorful cardboard strips. 


3. Jessy


Kelly dumped the contents of the bags onto the table. Jessy watched closely.  The strips were different lengths, and each length was painted a different color.

“Here, Jessica.  You start sorting these by color.  Mrs. Collins, I think it’s easier to understand fractions if you actually see the pieces in your mind.  And seeing these strips laid out on the table first, can make that part easier. Does that make sense?”

“It does to me.”  Jessy was separating the colors.  She started slowly lining them up on the table.  Becky watched her daughter swirl the tip of her tongue over her lips while she studied the pieces intently.  

Jessy was so absorbed she didn’t even notice when Jonas squeezed behind her chair to carry his cereal supplies to the kitchen.  Becky could hear him rustling around in the fridge.

“Did somebody teach this to you, Kelly?”  Becky tried to peer into the kitchen. Would Uncle Jonas be making Jessy’s dinner tonight?  And where on earth was Kelly’s mother?

“I made it up myself,” Kelly answered.  “I first used it to teach my brothers. Word got around, and now I teach everybody.”

Kelly watched Jessy move the pieces around for a few minutes, then spoke.  “Jessica, put two blue pieces end to end. Then line up three green pieces next to them.”

Jessy lined them up with surgical precision.  “They’re both the same length!”

“Now put one blue piece and two brown pieces end to end, and put them next to the others.”

Jessy’s fingers twitched with excitement as she moved the pieces.  “They’re the same length as the others! How does that work? How did you know that?  Wait…I think I know…give me a minute…”

Becky jumped in.  “The blue pieces are halves, the green ones are thirds, the brown ones are fourths.”  She glanced at her watch.

“Hey,” Jonas bellowed from the kitchen, “let the kid figure it out by herself.  She was getting there.”  Jonas came to the doorway and popped open a beer can.

Jessy flashed a triumphant glance at her mother.  “Thanks, Uncle Jonas.” 

“No prob, kid.”  Jonas tousled Jessy’s hair as he squeezed passed her to go back to the TV.

“Kelly, will your mother be coming home soon?” Becky asked tersely.  “Maybe we should come back later when I can discuss this arrangement with her.” She stood up.

“Mom!  Please stop.  I’m just now starting to understand this.  I want to be ready for the test on Friday.”  Jessy looked beseechingly at her mother, then at Kelly, and back to the cardboard strips in front of her.  Her face was etched with worry.  

“Jessy, I just don’t think this is–”

“I don’t want to flunk another math test, Mom.”  Jessy’s chin quivered. “The other kids find out and they make fun of me.”  

“I don’t,” Kelly said solemnly.

“Damn right she don’t!” Uncle Jonas hollered from the next room.  “My Kelly is a good girl.”

Jessy’s words started to pour out.  “I erase and erase and I still can’t get it right.  My papers are always all smudged with eraser marks. The other kids see my papers and call me Messy Jessy.”  Tears rolled down her cheeks.

.“Oh, Jess.”  Becky dug in her purse for a tissue.  “Why didn’t you tell Dad and me it was this bad?  Your teacher always sugar coats things.”

“I was ashamed.”  Jessy covered her face with her hands, then moved them down to her lap.  “My stomach hurts.”

Jonas had come back to their table. He looked at Jessy with concern.  “Kell, get your little friend some cherry Jello from the fridge. That always cures a stomach ache.”

Becky started scooping up the fraction strips and putting them back in their bags.  “Jessy, let’s help Kelly clean up and then get your things. We’re going home so you can lie down.  We’ll talk to your teacher about postponing your test.”

“But our cherry Jello is extra good,” Jonas persisted.  “We make it with root beer and marshmallows.”

Jessy stopped sniffling to look up at Jonas.  “Really? That sounds wonderful.”

“Jessica!  Help Kelly clean up and let’s go.”  Becky checked the time again. The deli would be closing in twenty-five minutes.  Her guests would start arriving in a little over an hour.

And those ridiculous Hendersons were always early.  Always pretending they didn’t know they were early. Never failed.  


4.  Bonnie


A key rattled in the lock and the door swung open behind Becky.  “Hidey-ho!” a cheerful female voice called out. “Sorry I’m late.  Big sale at the grocery outlet on Hormel chili. Long line. Cans were hardly even dented this time!” 

Becky spun around and faced a woman about her age in tight jeans, a Chris Stapleton sweatshirt and a baseball cap.  A runny nosed toddler squirmed on her hip. 

She put down the little boy.  “Kelly Bell, change Jamie and put him down for a nap.  Jonas, go get the groceries from the car.  Then we’ll start dinner.”  

Kelly led her wobbly brother toward a narrow hall.  “Mom, this is my friend Jessica and her mother Mrs. Collins.”

Kelly’s mom grinned at Becky and Jessica.  “Hi there. I’m Bonnie. I don’t bother with last names, Mrs. Collins.  I’ve had too many of them.”

“That’s fine.  I’m Becky. But right now we really need to–”

“Kelly was teaching Jessica and her mom about fractions,” Jonas explained.  “They were just getting started and this little gal here got a tummy ache.  We were just fixing to give her some Jello.”  

Becky flashed Bonnie a thin smile.  “Jessica will be fine. We were just leaving.”

“Can’t you and Jessica stay for dinner, Becky?  Kelly’s fraction friends always stay for dinner.  We make Jonas turn off the TV and we listen to some music.  You like Chris Stapleton?”

Jonas was heading out to get the groceries.  “You get some hot dogs to go with all that chili?”

“Yup, and nice fresh buns.  Well, just a day old.” Bonnie turned to Becky and winked.  “But day old tastes about the same, right? Who needs to spend double the price.”

Becky thought hopelessly about the soon-to-be-closing deli, with trays of expensive appetizers all stacked and waiting for her.  All paid for. She wouldn’t get a refund if she didn’t pick them up in time.  

Not to mention having nothing to feed her party guests.  She would have to listen to those gluten-free Hendersons drone on and on about “where’s the SOO-shee, oh, I miss my favorite SOO-shee.”

Kelly came to Becky’s rescue, hauling her whimpering little brother back to the dining room.  “Mom, Mrs. Collins has to go home and get ready for a party she is having tonight. She needs to go right away, or she’ll be late.”

Bonnie sparkled with excitement.  “Oh, well why didn’t you tell me?  I love having parties. We usually have ours down at the county park.  We rent a shelter and everything. Have a cookout.  Need some help setting up for your party, Becky?  Jonas can feed the kids. I’d dash out the back door when your guests arrived. I’m sure you wouldn’t want them seeing me like this.”

“No…I mean, thank you so much but…we really need to go.  Jessy…” Becky looked helplessly at her daughter’s pleading eyes.

“Mom, please let me stay.  I want to learn fractions from Kelly.  I don’t want you to go to my teacher and make excuses for me anymore.  The kids always find out about the moms who do that, and spread it all over school.”  

Bonnie nodded sympathetically.  “Kids can be so awful, can’t they?  I hated getting teased when I was a kid.  You know, Jessica, I couldn’t do fractions either when I was your age.  Teacher wrote my name on the board and made me stay after school. I hated it.”

Jessy and Bonnie looked at each other for a moment.  Then Jessy turned to Becky.

“I want to get caught up on my own, Mom.  With Kelly’s help, I mean. Please don’t go to my teacher.”

Bonnie, Jessy, and Kelly all stood looking at Becky. 

The door swung open behind them and Jonas hauled in grocery bags.  “Man, those chili cans are heavy. How many did you get?” 

Bonnie turned to her brother.  “Lots. You better not have let any of them squish the hot dog buns.”

Jonas dug three packages of hot dogs out of the bag and turned to Becky. 

“Hope you and your girl like chili dogs. Bonnie’s are extra good. She puts mustard and relish right in the chili when she heats it up.  Do you like chopped onions on yours?”

“We aren’t staying.”  Becky’s attempt to look apologetic failed completely.

Bonnie was stacking chili cans on the dining room table.  “Girls, please take these back to the pantry.” She turned to Jonas.  “Becky has a party she’s putting on this evening. She can’t stay.”

Jonas was trying to fluff up a package of squashed hot dog buns.  “Well, Jessica should stay and work on her fractions. She barely got started.  Kelly, didn’t you say your class had a big math test on Friday?” 

Jessy and Kelly had returned from their pantry errand.  Jessy looked at her mother imploringly.

“Mom, please, let me stay.  I need to work on fractions.  And my stomach doesn’t even hurt anymore.  Those chili dogs sound good. I bet Dad would love them.  You know how he always puts mustard and relish and onions on his.”

Bonnie smiled at Jessy.  “We’ll let you know next time we have them, and you can bring your dad.”  She glanced at Becky. “If that’s okay with your mom.”

Jessy’s eyes brightened.  “Oh, that sounds fun! You’d like my dad.  He wears this funny chef’s apron when he cooks hot dogs on our grill.”

“Sounds like he’d fit right in,” Jonas called from the kitchen, where he was plopping hot dogs into a pan of water.

Jessy tried once more.  “Mom, please let me stay.  What about my fractions?  I need to work on my fractions.”

Bonnie was unpacking the rest of her groceries.  “You have to listen to your mom, Jessica.”  


5. Becky


Becky looked from Bonnie to the girls.  What have I become?   This nice family wanted to help her daughter.  Bonnie wanted to help her get ready for her party.  They wanted to make dinner for her family. 

These nice people who were total strangers until a few minutes ago…and who had somehow managed to ignore all her insufferable cattiness.

And Jessy saw her dad as the fun guy grilling hot dogs.  Someone who would fit in with Jessy’s fun new friends.

Becky turned to Bonnie.  “I’ll take you up on it.” 

Bonnie looked from her groceries.  “What?”

“The party.  Helping me set up.  But don’t leave when the guests come.  Stick around.  Kelly, too.”

Words suddenly poured out of Becky.  Her mind was racing.

“How about the four of us girls jump in my car, run and pick up the party food, and go to our house to set up.  I’ll order a pizza for the girls and they can eat while they work on fractions in our sunroom.”

Jonas came to the doorway.  “Sunroom.  What the hell is a sunroom?  Sounds like something from Harry Potter.”

“And maybe this time,” Becky added, “I can get my husband Bill to bring out his guitar and play for everybody.  He hasn’t done that in a long time.”

Jessy smiled up at her mother.  “I always loved it when Dad played the guitar for us.  It’s been so long.”

“Wow, that sounds cool,” Bonnie piped.  “Does he know any Chris Stapleton?”

Becky laughed.  “Well, if he doesn’t, maybe you can teach him.  It’ll be a learning day for all of us.”

Bonnie grabbed her jacket and purse.  “Jonas, looks like you’re feeding the crew tonight.  Call Jake in to put away the rest of the groceries.  Give Jamie a bath and make the boys do their homework after they’re done with the dishes.”

“Sure ‘nuff, sis.”  Jonas went back to his simmering hot dogs.

As the four of them piled into Becky’s SUV, Jessy said, “You know what I like about Kelly’s fractions, Mom?  If you line them up just right, you can make something whole out of them.”

“That sounds good to me,” Becky laughed.  “We could all use a little more of that.  And Bonnie? About the party.”


“Stay away from the Hendersons.  They’re really boring.”

“Sure thing.  Anything else?”

“Stay away from the sushi, too.  It’s really gross.”

“Maybe we can snitch some of the girls’ pizza.”

“You know what, Bonnie?”


“I think tonight’s going to be a really fun party.”


Becky picked up her phone.  “Alexa?  Play some Chris Stapleton.”

Bonnie clapped and whooped.  “Now you’re talking!”

“I’ll leave the phone here for you to listen to.  You want anything else?” Becky pulled up to the deli just as the clerk was turning off the Open sign. 

“Yeah.  Let me fix your broken fingernail before anyone else sees it.”

Becky laughed.  “Sure thing. Be right back.”  Becky hopped out of her SUV and ran to the deli window, waving her receipt.  The clerk opened the door with a worried smile.

“I’m so very sorry, Mrs. Collins.  We ran out of sushi before we could complete your order.  We did our best to make substitu–”

“No problem.  I’m sure whatever you picked out will be delicious, Sue.  Anything will do.”

Sue looked puzzled.  “But you’re usually so particular about your orders, Mrs. Collins.  We were so afraid that–”

“Sorry about that.  Won’t happen again. Have a great evening.”

“You too.  I hope your party goes well.”

“I know it will.”

Climbing into her car, Becky heard a chorus of female voices belting out, “You’re as swee–ee–ee-ee-eat as straw-aw-berry waahn.”

Becky looked at her daughter quizzically.  She had never known that Jessica could sing.

Bonnie handed Becky her phone.  “You got a little Miranda Lambert there.  Better watch out.”

“Sure sounds like I do.”  Becky turned and grinned at Jessy.

For the rest of the ride home, Becky caught glimpses of her daughter in the rear view mirror. 

At one point, their eyes met in each other’s reflection, and Jessy’s mouth curved into a smile.


A Year Later –


“Becky, have you seen little Jamie?  I think we packed him in one of these boxes.”  Bonnie spun around and surveyed her nearly empty apartment.  “And where are the rest of my boys?”

Jessy appeared from the back bedroom, hauling a cardboard box.  “Dad and Uncle Jonas took the boys for one last visit to the county park.  They said they would keep them out of our hair while we finished packing.”

Becky looked up from the box she was taping closed.  “Why on earth didn’t they tell us?”

“They tried.” Jessy dropped the box on the floor.  “You two had Chris Stapleton turned up so loud, I guess you didn’t hear them.”

Becky stood up and brushed off her jeans.  “I hope you girls are almost finished with the bedrooms.  The moving van is about ready to leave our house.  It’ll be here soon.”

“Kelly and Amy are almost finished with the clothes.  And this box is the last of the books and toys.  Wait, I need to label it.”  Jessy pulled a marker out of her pocket.

“I still can’t believe this is really happening.”  Bonnie looked out the window.  “It’s like a dream come true.  For me, for Jonas, for all my boys…”

Becky smiled at her friend.  “Bill and I wouldn’t be able to do it without you and Jonas.  The place is just too big for Bill and me to run by ourselves.  Plus Bill still needs to keep up with his accounting practice.”

“At least he can do most of his work on the computer and phone.  Won’t need to put on a suit everyday and fight the traffic.”  Bonnie glanced around her apartment again.  “So is this everything?”

“”Yup.  Looks like it.”  Becky pulled out her phone.  “I’ll order pizza for all of us.  We can eat while the movers are working.”

“Remember our first pizza?”  Bonnie laughed.  “That was a fun night.  A great party.  The best part was Bill playing his guitar for hours.”

“Just a year ago,” Becky joined Bonnie at the window.  “And now we’re all heading to a whole new life.  Running a campground in the mountains.  Who would have guessed?”

Bonnie grinned.  “If Jonas and Bill hadn’t gotten lost on their last fishing trip, they never would have stumbled over that For Sale sign.  How’s that for fate?”

“Well, the kids are all excited,” Becky answered.  “Especially about the homeschooling part.  Good thing we have Kelly to help us.”

“She’ll keep us all in line.”  Bonnie laughed.

“I was worried that Amy wouldn’t want to leave her friends,” Becky said.  “But she’s as excited as everyone else.”

“It’ll be a fun life.  Who wouldn’t want to live in a campground in the mountains?”  Bonnie turned from the window.  “Jessy! Amy!  Kelly Bell!”

The girls joined them from the bedroom, carrying the last of the boxes.

“So, we’re ready?”  Becky looked around.

A chorus answered, “We’re ready!”

And so they were.



Join Jessy, Kelly, and their families as they become amateur sleuths at their new campground home.

The Jessy + Kelly Mysteries will be available here, as well as in Kindle and in print.

Join the girls and their families on their amazing adventures!







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