Hector rang Willie’s bell. Whenever it rained or snowed, or was too cold to play outside Hector and Orrie went over to Willie’s for a play date. Willie opened the door looking like a kid who was in trouble, big time. Before Willie could say anything, Grandma Hattie called out, “Have the boys come in for milk and cookies.”
Hector and Orrie followed Willie into the kitchen where Grandma Hattie had the table set with her famous chocolate chip cookies and glasses of milk. Hector and Orrie knew something was up because Willie wasn’t making eye contact with them and he hadn’t said a word since he let them in the house.
After they gathered around the table, Grandma Hattie said, “Boys, I didn’t want you to come all this way and then turn you away without at least having snack. Willie cannot have a play date today. He is being punished.” Willie’s head went down. Orrie looked at him sympathetically and Hector thought to himself…wow, someone else is in trouble besides me.
“Willie,” said Grandma Hattie,”Do you want to tell your friends why you are being punished, or shall I?” Willie answered, “I’ll tell. I did something really stupid. I played with matches and a candle in my bedroom and set the rug on fire.”
Before Hector could catch himself, he blurted out, “Wow, that was dumb. I do stupid things all the time, but I never play with matches. What were you thinking, Willie? Orrie jumped in, saying, “Hector, that’s not nice to say,. Willie feels bad enough already.”
Willie’s lower lip started trembling and a tear rolled down his face. He said,”I burnt a hole, that can’t be mended, in the rag rug that Grandma Hattie made me. I could have burnt the house down. I’m lucky the smoke detector went off and Grandma came running.
When the firemen came, they put out the fire and then they gave me a good talking to about playing with matches. Boy was I scared and ashamed and I felt so stupid!”
Hector started gobbling up cookies; he always ate when he was nervous. Orrie couldn’t finish his cookie; he always lost his appetite, even for cookies, when he was nervous.
Everyone finished their snack in silence, then Grandma Hattie said,”It’s time to go boys. Willie, please walk your friends to the door.”
On the way to the door, Hector’s curiosity got the best of him and he asked, “So, what’s your punishment for playing with matches?” Before Willie could answer, Orrie broke in, “That’s none of our business, Hector.”
When they got to the door, Willie asked them to please not tell anyone about him playing with matches. Hector and Orrie promised. “See you in school,” said Willie, “I won’t be going anywhere for awhile, not even out to play.”
On the way home, Orrie turned to Hector and said,”I am so glad Willie is okay.” “Yeah, said Hector, “I guess now he will never forget what Fireman Phil always says when he comes to class to talk about fire safety.”
They both repeated Fireman Phil’s saying, “Matches are for fire, not for fun.”