Editor’s Note: Great Reading for the younger kids visiting.
Bernice awoke with the early morning sun. Tingling all over and squirming with excitement, she jumped out of bed, ran to the window, and drew the curtains. The early morning dew twinkled on the grass and a gentle breeze rustled the leaves in the birch trees where the birds were chirping up a storm. Every morning she paused to listen, but she had more important things to do right now. Yesterday, Robert had promised to teach her how to whistle and she couldn’t wait.
She pulled on a pair of blue overalls and a blue checkered blouse before racing down the stairs to the kitchen. Robert was sitting at the table finishing the last of his cereal. He glanced up and smiled at his sister as she slid into her chair. Bernice smiled and asked, “Are you excited to teach me how to whistle?”
“Yes, I am, just like I promised. We can start as soon as you finish your breakfast.”
Bernice munched and crunched her way through her cereal and thought about all that happened yesterday. For as long as she could remember, Bernice had followed her older brother and his friends everywhere. But yesterday, his friends made it very clear they didn’t want her tagging along with them anymore. For many weeks, his friends teased him.
“Aaah, Robert, is your little sister coming with us again?” whined Peter in a high-pitched voice. “Can’t she just stay home today?”
“Doesn’t she have her own friends? Tell her to stay home!” chimed in Pablo.
“Why don’t we just tell her we don’t want her with us anymore?” suggested Simon.
Robert longed to tell her what his friends were saying but he didn’t want to hurt his sister’s feelings.
Yesterday afternoon in the playground near their house, Simon marched right up to her, put his hands on his hips and shouted, “Look, Bernice, stop being such a pest. We don’t want you tagging along with us everywhere we go, okay? Get your own friends and leave us alone.” His friends stood beside him nodding their heads in approval.
Bernice shrank back in fright. Her face crumbled. She stood stark still looking at Simon as tears welled up in her eyes. Her bottom lip quivered, her shoulders heaved and tears streamed down her face as she turned to run home. She burst through the back door, ran up to her bedroom, and threw herself on her bed. She sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.
When Robert returned, he called out, “Bernice, where are you?”
“I’m in my bedroom,” she answered.
Robert raced upstairs. Bernice was sitting in the middle of her bed making friendship bracelets. She looked up and told him how much his friends had hurt her feelings.
Robert really loved his little sister. He walked over, sat beside her, and put his hand on her shoulder as he tried to console her. “Look, Bernice, I know you want to learn to whistle like my friends and me, so I’ll make a deal with you. If I teach you, will you stop tagging along with us?”
Bernice looked up at her brother through red-rimmed eyes. How she longed to whistle like the boys. But she was not ready to stop hanging out with them yet.
“I’ll think about it,” she shrugged and heaved a long, sad sigh.
“Suit yourself,” said Robert as he shuffled off to his own bedroom.
After a while, Bernice threw her legs over the edge of the bed, leaned forward, and cupped her face in her hands. She remembered all the fun times she had had with Robert and his friends. She wanted to be just like them. She wanted to be just like Robert.
Still feeling sad, she jumped off the bed, went downstairs, and out the back door. She sat on the top step watching her brother and his friends play marbles. She tried to understand why they did not want her with them anymore. What did I do? she wondered.
In the past, when the boys went fishing, Bernice went fishing. When they went swimming, there was Bernice splashing around in the water pretending she could swim. When they rode their bikes to the baseball field, her short little legs pedaled as fast as they could to keep up with them.
Bernice loved spending time alone with her brother, as well. Robert had been teaching her how to since she asked him how to tie her shoelaces when she was only three. He had taught her how to eat spaghetti one by one without smearing the tomato sauce all over her lips and chin. He taught her how to ride her bike when she outgrew her tricycle. But now he promised to teach her the best thing of all. How to whistle!
No matter how hard she had tried to whistle on her own, the only sound she made was a WOOOOOOOOOOOO that petered off to a faint nothing.
She wanted to continue playing with Robert and his friends but what she wanted more than anything in the whole world was to pucker her lips and whistle. Besides, she thought if she could whistle, maybe they would welcome her back to join them in all of their adventures. She couldn’t wait to tell Robert that she would agree to his bargain.
As soon as she finished her breakfast, Bernice and Robert went up to the bathroom to practice in front of a mirror.
“You have to hurry and learn fast because my friends will be here soon. We’re packing a lunch and going even farther in the woods today to build a new fort,” he told her.
“Okay, I’m ready!” she exclaimed.
“Look, all you have to do is tuck your tongue behind your bottom teeth, pucker your lips, and blow through the tunnel,” Robert instructed her. “Watch me,” he said as he whistled to show her how to do it. “Easy-peasy.” Robert beamed. He always said easy-peasy whenever he taught her anything new.
“Easy-peasy,” she said, smiling back at him. Bernice puckered her lips, curled her tongue, and blew. A faint rush of air was all she could manage. Robert showed her again but this time more slowly. Bernice took a deep breath and tried even harder. Still no whistle. She blew and blew, each time getting redder and redder in the face. This time it was not “easy-peasy” for her.
Finally, Robert burst out laughing. “You may not be able to whistle but you sure would be good at blowing up balloons!”
Bernice was crestfallen. Robert had never laughed at her before when he was teaching her new things. “You hurt my feelings,” she sobbed.
Robert had not meant to make her cry. “Keep practicing,” he encouraged her. “If you haven’t learned by the time I get back, I will show you how to whistle with your fingers.”
Bernice was determined to learn so spent most of the morning in front of the mirror pursing and curling and blowing until her entire face hurt.
“Why don’t you leave it for a while,” her mother called up to her. “Come and read some of your books to me while I work on your quilt. I just have a few more swatches to sew and then I’m all finished. Come keep me company.”
Bernice loved reading so she gathered up an armful of books and went downstairs to the den. She plopped herself down in front of her mother and read book after book until it was time for lunch.
As soon as she finished her lunch, she raced to the bathroom to practice. A sharp little sound came out. She couldn’t believe her ears. She tried again. Another sharp sound! She ran downstairs to show her mother.
“Wonderful,” her mother said as she hugged her. “Now what shall I do with a whistling girl, hmm? Maybe after you’ve helped me with the grocery shopping, you can whistle your brother home for supper!”
Bernice was so excited that she whistled all the way to the grocery store, up and down every aisle, and all while she and her mother put away the groceries. As soon as they finished, she threw on her jacket, skipped out the back door, up the garden path and into the woods to show her brother she could whistle.
Along the way, she whistled at the trees, at the flowers, and even at a rabbit that ran across the path. On and on she went, whistling at everything in sight until she came to the clearing she knew so well. Bursting with pride she raced right into the middle, looking to the right and to the left. The boys were nowhere in sight. She called out to them. “Robert! Peter! Simon! Pablo!” She called to the top of her lungs, “I can whistle!”
She ran to all their hiding places but they were nowhere to be found. Then she remembered that Robert had told her they were going to a new place to build a new fort.
Feeling confident, she decided to go find them. After a little while, she started to panic because it was getting dark.
She called. She whistled. No one answered. It was a bit scary so she started to run back to the clearing. All of a sudden, she stopped. Where was she? Everything looked the same but different. She couldn’t tell in the semi-darkness. Somehow, she had taken a wrong turn. Not knowing what to do, she sat down on a rock to catch her breath.
Robert had always protected her so she knew he would come looking for her. Pulling her jacket tightly around her shoulders, she looked up and saw a wondrous sight. The sky was ablaze with color. It made her so happy, she started to whistle. As she did, the lights in the sky moved. She whistled again. The lights moved again. Now she couldn’t help herself. She was so excited she forgot all about being lost.
With her head thrown back, she stood up and moved to the rhythm of the sky. “We’re dancing!” she yelled up to the sky. She was so entranced by it all that she didn’t hear Robert come up behind her.
“What are you doing?” Robert asked her.
“Oh, Robert!” Bernice shouted as she turned and threw her arms around him. “I whistled and the sky danced!”
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com
For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com