Mary Lou loved the squeak of her shoes on the gym floor, the swoosh of the ball through the net. She loved everything about basketball and was captain of the Girls Basketball team at school. She practiced every day, every weekend, and every chance she could get.
She had many friends, but her favorite was Tessa. Though Tessa never played basketball, she happily cheered from the sidelines and never missed one of Mary Lou’s games.
But Mary Lou’s schoolwork suffered and her grades began to slip. Tests became harder and soon her parents warned that school had to come first, or basketball would end.
Then she discovered that by playing sick she was able to avoid going to school on test day. Mary Lou felt guilty, but not much. Later that day while her mom was at work, Mary Lou happily jogged to school for the game. She would not skip a game of basketball!
The Principal stood at the gate and greeted everyone with a smile, until he saw Mary Lou.
“I’m glad you’re feeling better,” he said “But if you don’t attend school, you cannot play in the game.”
Mary Lou’s heart sank to her socks. She had not expected this and angry tears stung her eyes. How would she ever face her teammates? She had to find Tessa and tell her about the mean old Principal. Tessa would understand. Mary Lou looked up and down the stands, but Tessa wasn’t there. The only time Tessa had ever missed a game was when she was really sick and the thought made Mary Lou feel ashamed and wish she had not pretended.
She ran straight to Tessa’s house and knocked on the door. When Tessa’s brother told her that Tessa was in the hospital, Mary Lou began to cry. She felt like this was all her fault and wished she could change things back to before she played sick, before Tessa really was.
“Don’t cry,” Tessa’s brother said “I’m going to visit her now and you can ride along.”
Tessa looked tiny and pale in the big hospital bed, but she smiled brightly at Mary Lou.
“How was the game?” she whispered “Sorry I missed it.”
A single tear slipped down Mary Lou’s face before she spoke “I’ll tell you everything when you feel better.”
Tessa lifted her hand and pointed her pinky finger up “Promise?”
“Promise!” Mary Lou wrapped her pinky finger around Tessa’s.
In the days that followed, Mary Lou thought a lot about herself and how she had played sick that day. She loved basketball, but she loved many things more, such as honesty and pride and having a friend like Tessa. Second chances don’t happen often, but when they do, you should make the best of them. And Mary Lou planned to do just that.
It was only a week later that Tessa was able to go home and she and Mary Lou sat at the kitchen table, doing homework. Both girls had a lot to catching up to do and Mary Lou was grateful for the chance to try.
Have you or anyone you know ever played sick? What did you do all day?