Maria Makes a Choice

Maria and her family had moved to Mesa, Arizona, two weeks ago. She had only two friends here. One was Angela, who lived next door. The other was Mr. Avila.

Mr. Avila owned a small store two blocks from Maria’s house. Maria often went to Mr. Avila’s store for her mother. Every time Maria bought something, Mr. Avila would give her a piece of candy. “This will keep you as sweet as you are,” he would say.

One day Angela came over. She said she had to go to Mr. Avila’s store for her mother. Angela wanted Maria to go with her. Maria asked her father if she could go.

“Just as long as you are home before dinner,” he said.

Happily Maria and Angela walked to the store. When they got there, Angela went to the candy counter.

“Your mother wants you to buy candy?” Maria asked, surprised.

“No, silly,” Angela said. “My mother doesn’t really want anything. I came to the store because I want some candy.”

“Do you have money to buy candy?” Maria asked.

Angela replied, “Who needs money? I just take what I want.”

Maria couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You mean you steal?” she asked.

“Well, it’s not really stealing,” Angela said. “Mr. Avila always gives us candy.” She pointed to a chocolate bar. “Doesn’t that look good?”

“Angela, you can’t just take it!” Maria cried.

“Yes, I can,” said Angela. “No one ever sees me.”

Maria looked at the chocolate bar.

“You take one, too,” said Angela. “It’s easy. Just put it in your pocket and walk out.”

I could do it, thought Maria. It would be easy. The chocolate bar would taste good. She was hungry too.

“Go on, Maria. Take it,” Angela said.

No one would ever know, Maria thought. Then she had another thought—Heavenly Father would know!

“Come on, Maria,” Angela said.

Maria thought about her parents. They would be sad if they found out. She thought of how nice Mr. Avila was. What would he think of her if he knew she had stolen from him? She remembered the promises she had made to Heavenly Father when she was baptized. She had promised to keep the commandments.

Angela looked angry. “If you don’t take it, I won’t be your friend anymore,” she said.

Marie felt torn up inside. She looked at the candy bar. She didn’t really want it. But she did want Angela to be her friend. She didn’t know what to do.

Then she remembered something her father had told her: “A friend isn’t really a friend if he asks you to do something wrong.”

Maria looked at Angela. “I’m sorry, Angela,” she said. “I just can’t do something I know is wrong.”

“Then good-bye,” Angela said. “I don’t want to see you anymore.”

Maria looked at Angela sadly as she left the store. All the way home she thought about what had happened. She felt bad that she had lost Angela as a friend. Should I have done it just this one time? she asked herself.

When Maria got home, her father said, “Come sit by me, Maria. I want to talk to you.”

Maria sat down by her father.

“Maria,” he said, “I just got a phone call from Mr. Avila. He told me that your friend Angela stole some candy. Mr. Avila said he saw you with Angela. Is that true?”

“Yes. But I didn’t take anything, honest!” Maria’s eyes began to fill with tears.

Her father put his arm around her. “I believe you, Maria,” he said. “Mr. Avila said that he saw you leave without taking anything. He called to tell me that I have a daughter I can be proud of.”

“Really?” asked Maria.

“Really.” Her father smiled. “And I am proud of you! I am happy that you chose to do the right thing. I’m sure Heavenly Father is proud of you too.”

Maria was happy again. She was sure now that she had done the right thing.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Judith Prather