Hannah reached under the desk for her friend Ellie’s note, carefully watching to make sure the teacher wouldn’t see her. She felt a little guilty passing notes during class, but Mr. Jones had been lecturing for a while now, and she was bored.
Hannah opened the note and read it. She and Ellie had been writing back and forth about Maura, a girl in their class who they thought was stuck-up. “Maura thinks she’s so great,” Ellie had written. “I wish she would …”
Suddenly, Mr. Jones stopped talking. “A note?” he asked. He walked to Hannah’s desk and took the note out of her hands. Then to Hannah’s horror, Mr. Jones read the note to the class. He left out Maura’s name, but he read all of the mean things Ellie and Hannah had written about her.
Hannah looked helplessly at Ellie. Finally, the bell rang and Mr. Jones gave the note back to Hannah, asking to see her at lunchtime. Hannah felt terrible.
A tap on her shoulder startled her, and she turned around. It was Maura.
“That note was about me, wasn’t it?” Maura said, her eyes filling with tears. Then, without waiting for an answer, she walked down the hall.
Hannah felt sick to her stomach. She could tell that Ellie felt bad too. She went to the cafeteria and slowly ate her lunch, feeling worse all the time. She couldn’t get Maura’s sad face out of her mind.
Hannah trudged back to her classroom and sat down at her desk.
“Hannah, I shouldn’t have read that note out loud, and I’m sorry,” Mr. Jones said. “I know you think Maura is stuck-up, but I think if you got to know her, you would find out that she is a nice person. Maybe you could even become friends.”
Hannah doubted that they would become friends after what had just happened.
The next day, Hannah apologized to Maura, and the sick feeling in her stomach went away. She tried not to gossip about classmates anymore with Ellie or any of her friends. Hannah only wished that the sad look in Maura’s eyes would go away and that Maura could forgive her.
As the school year ended, Hannah and Ellie got their yearbooks and had their friends write in them. When Hannah got to Maura, she handed her the yearbook timidly, afraid that Maura would refuse it. But Maura took the book without saying anything.
When Hannah got home from school, she opened her yearbook and turned to Maura’s note.
I’m sorry we didn’t get along very well this year. I hope we can become better friends next year.
Hannah smiled as she read it. She was glad Maura had forgiven her, and she knew she could be a better friend.
“There is no place in the gospel … for … gossip or backbiting or catty remarks.” 1
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
“The Tongue of Angels,” Ensign, May 2007, 17.
Illustration by David Malan