Aunt Mabel’s Bad-Good Day

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine (Prov. 17:22).

It was impossible to cheer up Aunt Mabel. I’d been with her all day, and she hadn’t even come close to smiling. I handed the mail to her and said, “A magazine and a letter from Cousin Ellen.”

“But no surprise package from anyone,” Aunt Mabel said. “What a bad day.” She set the mail on the table in the dark hall and turned to me. “Shall we go for a little walk, Judy?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said, happy to get out of her gloomy house. When we stepped outside, I smiled up at the blue sky. “What a bright, sunny day,” I said.

Aunt Mabel glared at the sky. “It’s too bright. It makes me squint. Now I’ll get more wrinkles. What a bad day.”

I looked down and saw something shiny on the sidewalk. “Look! A penny,” I said, stooping to pick it up.

“Too bad it’s not a dime or a quarter,” Aunt Mabel said.

We walked to the park and Aunt Mabel sat on a bench under a big, leafy tree. “Isn’t it nice here in the shade?” I asked.

Aunt Mabel shook her head, gazing uneasily at the branches.

“Those leaves are probably full of caterpillars, and one might fall on me. What a bad day.”

I sighed and sat next to Aunt Mabel, but no caterpillars fell from the tree. After a few minutes, Aunt Mabel stood up. “Let’s be on our way,” she said.

We walked beside a garden that was filled with big yellow and orange flowers. “Mmmm,” I said. “Don’t those flowers smell sweet!”

Aunt Mabel rubbed her nose. “Makes my nose twitch,” she said, hurrying past the garden. “What a bad day.”

I slowed down and breathed in the sweet fragrance. My nose wasn’t twitching. I watched Aunt Mabel walk along the path and wondered how I could cheer her up. Skipping along, I caught up with her. “At least the sun’s not in our eyes, now,” I said, watching our shadows stretch before us.

Aunt Mabel buttoned her sweater. “Now the sun is hot on my back, but I’m cold in front. What a bad day.”

“We’re almost home,” I said as we turned the corner and Aunt Mabel’s house came into view. “You have a pretty house.”

Aunt Mabel looked up at her house. “It’s old,” she said. “The floor boards creak and groan.”

We climbed the steps and sat on the porch swing. “Shall I get us some lemonade?” I asked. Aunt Mabel nodded.

I carried two glasses of lemonade out to the porch. I knew what Aunt Mabel would say, and sure enough, after one sip she said it: “This lemonade is too sour. What a bad day.”

I was thirsty and drank mine right down. I thought it tasted pretty good. At last Mom’s car pulled up in front of the house, and I jumped up to leave.

“Did you have a nice visit?” she asked. I just shrugged. I didn’t want to lie and say I’d had a great time.

Aunt Mabel stood up and kissed Mom on the cheek. Then she gave me a hug. I hugged her, too, and she said, “Ouch! Watch out for these old bones!” I backed away.

“Did you have a good day visiting with your niece?” Mom asked her.

I waited for Aunt Mabel to tell Mom what a bad day she’d had.

“I had a very good day,” Aunt Mabel said. “It was nice to have someone to tell my troubles to.”

Mom and I got in the car, and before we drove away, I waved to Aunt Mabel. She waved back, and I was sure she actually smiled at me.

“You certainly cheered Aunt Mabel up,” Mom said.

“Yes,” I said. “What a bad-good day we had.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Taia Morley