Emma and her family were walking home from the church meeting on Sunday, when her mother, Katherine Stuart, began to tell about the family that was coming to stay with them in a week. Mr. and Mrs. Keymon were some college friends of Emma’s parents. The Keymons had a boy and a girl, Mrs. Stuart said, Jerry who was fifteen, and Tansy, thirteen. She said she had never seen Jerry or Tansy and didn’t at all know what they were like. Emma just hoped maybe she and Tansy could be friends.
Emma sneezed as she slathered lemon oil on one of the dusty old end tables that were on either side of the gold and warm-rose couch. Everyone was getting ready for the Keymons’ arrival. The Stuarts weren’t exactly the neatest people. If it weren’t for Katherine, Emma’s mother, the whole house would be in chaos. Just as Emma finished wiping down the end table, a minivan pulled up their winding drive that led to their yellow farmhouse.
“They’re here! They’re here!” screamed Emma as she rushed upstairs to change her shirt.
“What?” exclaimed Katherine. “They’re an hour early!” She rushed and put a pie in the oven, whipped off her apron and turned off the water in the kitchen sink. Sabrina came rushing downstairs with wet hair, patting it with a towel as she went.
“So much for drying my hair,” she mumbled with a sour look on her face, very unusual for Sabrina. As the Keymons were opening the car doors and unloading suitcases, Katherine, Sabrina and Emma were peacefully seated on the plaid couch looking as though there were no reason to be alarmed.
I wonder what will happen next, thought Emma with a chuckle. A man, a woman and two girls were heading to the door with large bags. Mrs. Stuart’s eyebrows lifted in surprise.
“Oh boy,” said Sabrina, somewhat confused. Emma and Sabrina watched the Keymons as they walked up the steps and rang the doorbell. Mrs. Stuart looked at Sabrina and Emma and took a breath.
* * *
Not what they had expected indeed. What they had expected was a man and a woman, an older boy, and a younger girl.
“What in the world…” said Katherine, saying what everyone else was thinking.
“Good thing we have a barn,” said Emma, laughing a little. Mrs. Stuart opened the door. In came a man, woman and two daughters, along with two cats, a dog and a rabbit. Sabrina looked as though she might burst out laughing any minute.
Mrs. Stuart smiled.
“Angela, Peter, it’s so nice to see you again!”
Angela gave Katherine a bear hug. All the while Sabrina, Emma, Jerry and Tansy stared at each other. Tansy went back outside to get more bags. “Jerry” smiled at the two girls. She had a somewhat large mouth, with extremely white teeth. Emma thought it was pleasantly large. Sabrina thought she looked like someone from a toothpaste commercial.
“Hello, I’m Jerry,” she said. Emma smiled back.
“I’m Emma, and this is Sabrina.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” said Jerry politely. The three girls began to make small talk, saying things like, “My mother told me you live in California. It must have been hard driving so far,” and “I’m so glad you brought your pets.” The latter comment was voiced by Emma, who loved animals, cats especially Jerry was a bubbly girl, always laughing and smiling. Where was Tansy? Oh there she was. Emma saw her peeking around the edge of the car watching a bird in the birdbath. She looked nice to Emma. She had long, sleek, honey-blond hair which Emma thought looked like gold. Her eyes were brown, no, that sounded too boring, thought Emma, maybe caramel-candy brown. She had freckles, but not too many. Jerry and Sabrina walked away arm-in-arm, laughing and talking. Emma sighed, thinking maybe Tansy didn’t want to be her friend. After all, she didn’t seem in too much of a hurry to go inside. Emma watched her through the sheer curtains. Tansy’s big eyes took in all their surroundings. The red barn behind the house, the wraparound porch, and the bales of hay in the distance. She thought she had never seen such a beautiful farm. Actually, she had never been on a farm. Mrs. Keymon saw Emma watching Tansy out the window. Angela walked up to Emma. Emma didn’t know what to say; unlike Sabrina she wasn’t very good at making small talk with grown-ups.
“Emma, I’m Angela Keymon,” she said, sticking out her hand.
“Very nice to meet you, Mrs. Keymon,” said Emma as she shook her hand.
“No please, call me Angela,” she said as she winked at Emma. She seemed a lot like Jerry
“About my girls, Jerry…” then she paused and laughed.
“Well, it dawned on me that you probably thought she was a he. Her name’s really Jeranna.” Emma thought it was a beautiful name, very unusual though.
“As for Tansy, we didn’t think about telling you, but she is deaf. That’s why she isn’t coming inside yet, she was kind of nervous. But if you get to know her, she’s as enthusiastic and giggly as Jerry You have the most beautiful auburn hair, I always wanted wavy hair.”
Now I’ll probably never have a chance of getting to know her, thought Emma. Well at least there’s Jerry But she’s already friends with Sabrina.
Soon Tansy came in. She went to help Mrs. Stuart and Angela in the kitchen. Emma didn’t know how to introduce herself to Tansy. It looked like this visit would be a little awkward.
* * *
When Emma woke up the sun shone happily through her window. She hoped Mom had made chocolate- chip pancakes, her favorite. She slipped her red robe over her pajamas and looked at the clock on the wall. It read 6:45 AM. Wow! She didn’t know it was that early. Probably no one would be up. She walked down the stairs and into the kitchen/ breakfast room. Sitting in a chair by the glass-topped table was Tansy, obviously surprised to see Emma. Emma waved. It seemed weird to wave when they had been in the same house for three days. Then Emma had an idea. She got a piece of paper and a pencil and wrote:
Hi, my name is Emma,
I guess you already knew that. I’ve been wanting to get to know you, but I didn’t know how. It takes much longer to write things out, but at least we can have a conversation.
Tansy tore out a piece of paper apparently from her diary and wrote:
I’m Tansy. Did you see all our pets?? Isn’t it hilarious? Ha ha. I was kinda embarrassed to bring them, but we didn’t have anyone to take care of them while we were gone. But Jerry says you like pets, so I guess that’s good. You have the most beautiful farm. I wish I lived on one too. But we live in the city, so there aren’t any farms around.
The two girls wrote back and forth. Emma realized that Tansy really was a funny, happy girl, lust as Angela had said. She guessed you could say refreshing. That night another i4a came into Emma’s head. In the morning she told her mom about it, who thought it was an excellent idea. Emma just hoped Tansy would, too.
The next day Emma found Tansy sitting against the barn under the shade of an old oak tree. Emma’s braided hair swayed as she walked. This was the last day Tansy and her family would be staying with the Stuarts. Emma saw that Tansy was writing in her diary. Several other books lay scattered about her. Emma showed her a piece of paper. It said:
Would you like to ride a horse? We have a gentle gray mare named Violet you could ride. It’s really fun. We could spend all day riding. My mom packed us a picnic.
Tansy wrote back saying that she would love to. The friends rode horses all day like Emma said. Then Emma told, or I should say wrote, Tansy about her idea. The idea was that they could be pen pals. Mrs. Stuart said that Tansy could come and stay with them next summer too if she liked. By then maybe Emma could learn some sign language. Tansy smiled. And Emma knew she had found a friend.