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By Laura Powers, Ava
Papa built a house for his family of seven children. It was located in the town of Pea Ridge, Arkansas, which during the 1920s was quite small.
The house had a cistern in the back with a heavy lid so we little ones could not lift it. One of my older brothers would hold the lid up and lift me so I could look down and see my reflection in the water.
I would holler down, “Laura,” it would echo, “Laura,” as if I had been down there calling myself.
The house was furnished with iron beds and cotton mattresses, a wood-burning cookstove with a warming oven on top, and a long dining table with many straight-backed chairs. One of these chairs was mama’s.
She had sawed two inches off the legs so it would fit her short legs better. No one dared to sit in her chair.
One night as I lay in my bed in front of the open window, I watched the stars shooting across the sky. They seemed to be trading places and I wondered why. I talked to the stars and they winked back, so I knew they heard me.
My eyes felt heavy, and I was soon in dreamland. Outside my window a ladder reached from the ground clear up to the sky.
An angel all dressed in white with long, flowing black hair was climbing down the ladder. She came through the open window, went to each bed and left a present under it. Then she went back up the ladder without saying a word.
The sound of pancake batter sizzling in a hot skillet woke me the next morning. The smell of cinnamon applesauce filled the house.
I thought of the angel’s visit and flew out of bed. I rushed to find the presents, but they were not there.
“Mama,” I hollered. “Where are the presents?”
“What presents?” Mama asked.
“The ones the angel left under our beds,” I said. “I saw her put them there.”
Mama promised she would look later, but when she did, she found nothing.
I felt betrayed by the angel. I cried and cried. I did not think I could ever forgive the angel.
One evening years later I was sitting on the front porch looking up at the stars. I told my favorite star how badly the angel had betrayed me.
The star winked at me and said, “No, child, you have not been betrayed. The gifts you received were not visible to the eye.”
“You see, they were gifts of love, which will always be with you. Remember that, Laura.”
I threw my favorite star a kiss and said, “Please tell the angel I understand now and I forgive her.”
He said he would and I know he did.