“Don’t forget to watch the casserole in the oven. Have fun! Bye!” Mrs. Randall called back last-minute instructions as she climbed into the car. Mr. Randall closed her door and got into the driver’s seat. Both Mica and Ruby waved as the car pulled out. It was Friday night: date night for the Randall parents this week.
“What are we having for supper?” Mica wanted to know.
“Enchilada casserole,” Ruby informed him.
“Couldn’t we make a dessert to go with it?” Mica coaxed.
Ruby smiled at him. “I’m going to make a nice lettuce salad. That’s almost as good as dessert.”
Mica wrinkled up his nose. “I don’t think it is,” he protested.
Ruby laughed. “If you help me, I’ll make no-bake cookies.”
Mica beamed and quickly agreed.
* * * * *
Mica watched as the whisk in Ruby’s hand went round and round. “How much longer?”
“It has to boil and then cook 2 more minutes.” Ruby transferred the whisk to her other hand and continued stirring.
“Where did you put my camera when you were finished with it, Ruby?” Sterling called out his question as he came into the kitchen.
Ruby frowned and shifted uneasily. “I think I laid it on the table.”
Sterling stepped into the dining room. “It’s not here.”
“Are you sure it’s not in your room?” Ruby said hopefully.
“I already looked.”
Concern puckered Ruby’s forehead as she tried to think through everything she had done. Sterling had let her borrow his expensive camera to take product pictures with. She had made some little girls’ headbands and wanted to list them online to sell. To get good lighting she had set up her photoshoot outside.
Ruby thought about the movements she had made when she brought everything back to the house. She thought she had brought the camera in, but a twinge of uncertainty plagued her. What if she had left it outside in the elements?
The no-bake cookies bubbled vigorously, and Ruby pushed start on the timer.
“We’ll be done with cookies in about 5 minutes. I’ll go check then. I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.”
Sterling looked unsatisfied but headed to his room.
* * * * *
“Dump in the peanut butter now,” Ruby directed a couple of minutes later. Mica picked up the glass measuring cup and scraped out the gummy blob.
“What are y’all making?” Amber asked, coming in from outside.
“Oh good! You’re just in time to help Mica finish making no-bake cookies. All that’s left is the oats.” Ruby took off her apron and handed it to Amber.
“Where are you going in such a hurry?” Amber asked curiously.
“To look for Sterling’s camera,” Ruby called back over her shoulder.
She headed out the door. Her heart beat a little faster when she neared the site of her photoshoot. What if it was actually there, and she had carelessly left it outside? But, what if it wasn’t there, and she couldn’t find it?
There wasn’t much to see. The grass was cut short, so a swift glance around and a peek under a bush showed that it wasn’t there. Ruby felt some relief but knew that she couldn’t rest easy until her brother’s camera was found.
Sterling was waiting for her just inside the door. “Find it?” He looked at her empty hands and saw her shake her head.
“What have you done with it?” he asked, beginning to get irritated.
“I’ll find it,” Ruby assured him quickly. “I’ll check in my room. Maybe it’s with the headbands and my props.” She went straight to her room before Sterling could say more.
As she stepped through the doorway, Ruby forlornly surveyed the cluttered room. “I really need to clean this place up,” she told herself, just as she often did. She moved a few things around on her bed, sorting through the headbands and props she had dumped down after finishing the photoshoot. A quick search around the room in the obvious places did not reveal the camera.
And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
“I guess there’s nothing else to do but dive in and clean up this room,” Ruby decided. She spent the next while putting clothes away, sorting a stack of papers on her dresser, and trying to find homes for a host of miscellaneous items. She found the mate to a pink sock, a bent bookmark, a piece of candy that made its way into her mouth, and some dead batteries – but no camera.
“I’ll have to keep going after supper,” she told herself, heading back to the kitchen to make a salad.
As Ruby passed the boys’ room, Sterling called out, “Find it yet?”
“Not yet,” she mumbled.
* * * * *
Everyone avoided the camera situation during supper and talked about other things, but Ruby couldn’t enjoy it. She was getting very concerned because her room was half cleaned and there was no sign of the camera.
“Would you mind cleaning up supper?” Ruby asked Amber after they got up from the table. “I’m putting away some of your things in our room and putting the rest on your bed.”
Amber agreed, and Ruby rushed off. Another half-hour of work had the girls’ bedroom cleaner than it had been in weeks. She felt pleased with her clean room, but the worry dampened that good feeling. The moment had come for her to tell Sterling that she had not found the camera.
Ruby found Sterling with Jasper in the living room. Sterling looked up expectantly when she entered. “Well?” his expression said.
“I couldn’t find it,” Ruby said shamefacedly. “I can’t imagine where it could be.”
Sterling scowled. “Ruby, you should’ve been more responsible. We have to find it before something happens to it.”
Ruby felt helpless. She had already done a quick search over the house before supper and didn’t know where else to look.
“I’m sorry, Sterling,” she gulped. “I didn’t mean to lose it. I thought sure I laid it on the table.”
Sterling looked uncomfortable and glanced at Jasper who was watching the two. No one spoke. The awkward silence was broken as Mr. and Mrs. Randall walked in.
“Did y’all have a good time?” Mrs. Randall asked them.
“Not really,” Ruby mumbled.
“Ruby lost Sterling’s camera,” Jasper volunteered.
Mrs. Randall looked surprised. “Really?”
“Yes, I thought I put it on the table after I took pictures this afternoon, but it’s not there,” Ruby explained.
“Oh!” Mrs. Randall smiled. “I put it on Sterling’s desk before we left. Did you not see it, Sterling?”
“No,” he admitted sheepishly. “My desk is pretty cluttered.”
Sterling headed upstairs and returned a minute later holding the missing camera.
“I’m sorry, Ruby,” Sterling said sincerely. “I shouldn’t have accused you and been irritated.”
“I forgive you. At least I have a clean room now, even though the camera wasn’t in there.”
“Sounds like both of you could do a better job keeping tidy rooms,” observed Mrs. Randall.
Sterling and Ruby smiled.
“I know I could,” Ruby said.
“Me too,” added Sterling.
“How about you two keep each other accountable for awhile?” Mrs. Randall suggested.
Sterling and Ruby nodded and agreed.
Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
“Whew! I’m glad that’s over, and the camera is fine.” Ruby let out a sigh. “I may be too nervous to use it for a while.”
“Don’t be,” said Sterling. “I trust you. You’re welcome to use it whenever you want.” He stood up and stretched. “I’m going to go straighten my desk now.” He grinned at Ruby. “You’re going to have to keep a pretty clean room to keep ahead of me.”
Ruby laughed. “Really? Well, I think I’m up for the challenge!”
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