Shoelace Mystery


To have a friend, you must be a friend, too (Children’s Songbook, page 209).

Bryan stared at his cereal and twirled his spoon around. “I can’t eat, Mom. My stomach hurts.”

“Bryan,” said Mom. “I know that it’s hard to move and go to a new school, but you’ll do just as well here as you did before.”

“But, Mom,” said Bryan, “all my friends are in my old school. I won’t know anyone here.”

“You’ll make new friends,” Mom reassured him.

“But the school year’s half over,” Bryan complained. “The kids know each other and have chosen their friends. They won’t have room for me to fit in.”

Mom put her arm around Bryan’s shoulders. “Remember last week in family home evening when we talked about how we can find answers to many of our problems by reading the scriptures?”

“I remember,” Bryan answered. “But I don’t remember any scriptures about kids having to make new friends in a new school.”

Mom smiled. “Maybe not,” she agreed, “but I can think of a scripture that will help here.”

“What scripture?”

“It’s about the Savior. John wrote, ‘We love him, because he first loved us.’ * In other words, Jesus didn’t wait for people to be friendly to Him. He just loved them and was a friend first. It’s like the song in the Children’s Songbook, ‘Kindness Begins with Me.’ If you take the first step, I promise you that you’ll soon have lots of friends.”

“I’ll try, Mom,” Bryan told her. “But it’s not easy when you’re new.”

“I know,” Mom answered, “but by lunchtime you should feel better. I packed your favorite lunch.”

“Thanks, Mom,” said Bryan. “I’ll see you later,” he added as he kissed her good-bye.

Mrs. Bishop, the teacher, was expecting him. As soon as the bell rang, she said, “Class, we have a new boy this morning. This is Bryan Wright. Bryan, we’re glad to have you with us.”

Although the children smiled, as the morning went on, Bryan could tell that they had already settled into groups. Then, after recess, he found a note stuck in his desk! Bryan was surprised. Who would write a note to him? Bryan unfolded it and read:

DEAR BRYAN,

I WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND. BUT FIRST YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHO I AM. I’LL GIVE YOU A CLUE EACH DAY TO HELP YOU. HERE IS YOUR FIRST CLUE: I AM A BOY.

YOUR MYSTERY FRIEND

The children were working on an assignment, and no one was looking at Bryan. As Mrs. Bishop called on children that afternoon, Bryan listened carefully, trying to learn each child’s name. On the way home, he caught up with a group of boys, and as he walked with them, he wondered, Could it be Jason? Larry? Maybe it’s Tony? Or Jeff?

The next morning, Bryan gobbled down his breakfast.

“Slow down, Bryan,” Mom laughed. “Yesterday you couldn’t eat a bite, and now I’m afraid you’ll swallow the spoon!”

But Bryan couldn’t wait to get to school. As soon as he arrived, he checked his desk. Sure enough, there was a folded piece of paper. He opened it and read:

DEAR BRYAN,

ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR NEXT CLUE? HERE IT IS: I HAVE BLOND HAIR AND BLUE EYES. GOOD LUCK!

YOUR MYSTERY FRIEND

Bryan looked around the room carefully. About half the boys had blond hair. During the day, Bryan tried to talk to as many of them as he could so that he could see what color eyes they had. He learned more names and discovered that there were many friendly children in the class. But he still did not know who his mystery friend was.

The next day was Friday. Bryan was anxious to solve the mystery so that he would not have to wonder about it the whole weekend. But Friday’s clue was more mysterious than ever:

DEAR BRYAN,

YOUR CLUE FOR TODAY IS: I LOVE TO PLAY BASEBALL. IF YOU CAN’T SOLVE THE MYSTERY TODAY, DON’T WORRY. HERE’S AN EXTRA CLUE FOR YOU TO THINK ABOUT OVER THE WEEKEND: SHOELACES.

YOUR MYSTERY FRIEND

Shoelaces? Bryan was confused. Not only did he still have a mystery—nearly every boy in his class loved baseball—but now he had to figure out what shoelaces had to do with it. Again he talked to as many children as he could, including the girls, hoping that someone would give the Mystery Friend away. But in spite of getting to know many children better, Bryan still did not solve the shoelace mystery.

The weekend seemed long. Mom and Dad were really happy that Bryan was excited to go back to school, and they did their best to keep him busy. Finally Monday came, and Bryan found another note stuck in his desk:

DEAR BRYAN,

THIS IS THE LAST DAY OF THE MYSTERY. REMEMBER THE FINAL CLUE: SHOELACES. SEE YOU SOON!

YOUR MYSTERY FRIEND

Bryan thought about shoelaces so much that when Mrs. Bishop asked him what five times nine was, Bryan answered, “Shoelaces.”

During art, when everyone was supposed to draw some type of transportation, Bryan drew a train riding along shoelace tracks. When lunchtime came, he walked down the line of waiting children, looking at their feet. He saw white shoelaces, black shoelaces, and blue-and-white-striped shoelaces. He saw brown shoelaces, pink shoelaces, and even purple polka-dot shoelaces.

And then he saw them—yellow shoelaces covered with black question marks! Question marks are for things you don’t know, he thought. And things you don’t know are mysteries, so these are the mystery shoelaces! He looked up to see a smiling face with blue eyes and curly blond hair. “So you’re my Mystery Friend, Jim,” he said.

“Yep. You figured me out. Now we can be friends!”

“I think we already are,” Bryan told him. “And you did me a real favor too.”

“What favor?” asked Jim.

“I was so busy trying to figure out who you were that I forgot to be shy and I got to know everybody in the class. My mom was right. By being a friend first, now I have a whole classroom full of friends—and one very best one, besides!”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Susan Curtis