The Adventures of Lilly
Book Two – A China Escape
As Lilly munched on her fruit, she wondered in what way God would give her an opportunity to demonstrate what she had just learned from His Word. Conversation around the dining table turned to making plans for that day.
“I hope what ever we do does not include sending Lilly away to a beauty pageant. I missed you,” Marco said.
“As far as I know, it doesn’t,” Lilly assured him. “Been there. Done that. God made a difference in the moment and I came out with a crown.” She smiled, thinking of her restored relationship with mean girl turned nice, Casey, and the new friends she made at the Dream Girlz Beauty Pageant, namely, Cathy, reigning beauty queen Gwynet, Dominique, and Kwanza. “But what are we going to do together today, Dad and Momma?”
“Well, I purchased these tickets to the water park a few days ago considering I won’t be visiting my fashion headquarters today,” Mrs. Hill told the family, retrieving the tickets from her skirt pocket. “I planned to surprise you all with them today. Unfortunately, it’s raining. But, don’t worry, they’re redeemable.”
“So it has come to this,” Marco huffed, giving his waffle taco a jab in the side with a fork. “Dancing in the rain will be a sorry substitute.”
“Son,” Mr. Hill began. “No need to be so dramatic. You weren’t expecting to go to the water park and we have much to do around the house.”
“What about fun things?” Marco questioned. “Because we don’t have a water slide.”
“Oh, Marco, we can all pile onto the couch and watch a midday movie,” Lilly suggested.
“Great idea. We’ll watch that movie you saw last night and were laughing so hysterically about while I was trying to sleep,” Mrs. Hill said addressing Mr. Hill. “I almost had to get some ear plugs.”
“Forgive me, dear,” Mr. Hill said breaking out into laughter. “I think I’ll watch it with you again.”
“Now that that’s out of the way, though it shouldn’t have been in the way, I think we need to match schedules and plans for the upcoming month,” Mrs. Hill directed. “We are busy people, so confusion has no place here. First of all, school is starting back for you two.” She pointed a perfectly manicured pinky finger at Lilly and Marco. “That means shopping for school supplies and sports equipment: leotards, pointe shoes, cleats, shorts, tape, Gatorade, and sweat….No, not sweat. We do not need to shop for that, neither can we. Sweat will produce itself in boatloads once we get going.”
Lilly laughed. “Yes, Ma’am. Don’t forget, I’ll be helping with trends for your fall line of girls’ clothes.”
“Thank you, sweetie,” Mrs. Hill said. “Your expertise is greatly needed.”
Lilly loved helping her mother with her clothes designing business which was taking the online fashion world by storm. “I’ll round up the troops to assist us, too,” she said.
“Who are the troops?” Marco inquired, looking perplexed.
“My friends,” Lilly answered.
Marco sighed. “Whew! You had me worried for a hot second. I was afraid that you and mom had raised a powerful army underground, so I thought to myself, ‘What kind of morose trick has been pulled on me, by my own family no less?’ But, if it’s just your friends, I have nothing to worry about. They wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“I’m not so sure,” Lilly joked, flexing an arm muscle. Marco recoiled in mock horror.
“Mom, can you please make my costume this week?” he asked suddenly.
“Costume for what?”
“For my school play. Remember Mr. Luca told us to have them ready by the time we return from break.”
“What is this play about again?” Lilly asked. She did not recall Marco ever telling her about it.
“It’s about Julius Caesar,” Marco answered. “I wanted to play him, but Mr. Luca thought Julio deserved the role, probably because his name is close to Julius and he has curlier hair. But I’m happy for him. He’s nice to everybody. I was assigned the role of Brutus. Thankfully, I’ve been memorizing my lines because Mr. Luca is brutal whenever someone messes up in rehearsal.”
“All the best to you, son,” Mr. Hill said. “I’ll be there opening night—camera at the ready.”
“Thanks, Dad. But that’s for only one night. I’m not acting on Broadway.”
“Oh, I know. However, to me it’s a big deal.”
“To me also,” Mrs. Hill said.
“And to me,” Lilly echoed. “Perhaps I can give you a few acting lessons. Some years back, I had a role in that play–”
“The most coveted girl’s role,” Mr. Hill interrupted. “Julius Caesar’s wife. She outshone everybody, including Mr. Caesar himself who I do believe she had a little crush on at the time–”
“Dad! I did not!” Lilly protested her fork clattering to her plate.
“I’m just teasing you, sweetheart; just teasing,” Mr. Hill chortled. “But don’t worry, Marco, you’ll be learning from the best.” He looked proudly at his daughter.
“In fact, we filmed her play, too,” Mrs. Hill said. “The CD is probably in the attic.”
Lilly covered her face with her hands. “You don’t want to see that, Marco,” she assured him.
“Hmmm. I think I do,” Marco said. “Thanks, Mom and Dad. That’s another activity we can do this week.”
“So does anybody else have something upcoming that we need to plan for?” Mrs. Hill asked bringing everyone back to the original topic.
Lilly raised her fork mid-air. “Yes. Marco’s birthday is coming up,” she said excitedly.
“Of course. We would never forget about that,” Mrs. Hill said. “Is there anything special you’d like, Marco?”
“Nada,” Marco answered. “Everything I could ever want I have it in all of you.” He reached across the table and patted each member of his family on the hand. In doing so, he nearly knocked over the pitcher of orange juice which sat on the table.
“Oh, Marco,” Mrs. Hill began. She was all choked up. She silently thanked God for such a sweet and contented child.
“On second thought, there is one thing I’d like,” Marco said. He was smiling as he spoke. “A pretty thing, actually.”
Mr. Hill raised his head. “I knew there would be something,” he said. “Out with it, son.”
“I…would…like…wait for it…a dog!”
Mr. and Mrs. Hill looked at each other, then stared, as if reading one another’s thoughts. Finally Mrs. Hill spoke, “Aren’t fish enough?” she asked referencing the five fish in the family’s aquarium.
“Now, son,” Mr. Hill began. “A dog is a very big responsibility–”
“Oh, I know, Dad,” Marco interjected. “That’s why I’ve already bought a collar. See!” He pulled at a glow-in-the-dark dog collar which hung around his neck.
Lilly stopped pouring the remaining syrup from her plate onto her spoon. “Seriously.” She wanted to laugh. “I was wondering what that was. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for getting a dog.”
“Thanks, Sis. It’s nice to know someone’s on my side.” Marco nodded.
“Momma and Dad are on your side, too,” Lilly continued glancing at them. “But I think they just want to make sure you understand that taking care of a dog is more than buying it stuff. You have to spend time with it, train it, clean it, and clean up after it. And, of course, I’ll help you. So, no worries there. I’ve heard it said that caring for a dog is just like raising a child. Just as kids like us are dependent on their parents, dogs are dependent on their owners. Now, think about it. Will you be as responsible as Momma and Dad have been toward us?”
“Yes! Yes!” Marco promised. “If I was a proud man, I would say ‘even more so,’ if that’s even possible.”’
“Are you sure?” Lilly questioned.
“Positive. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
“That about settles it,” Mr. Hill said with a smile. “I’ll be holding you to your promise, Marco.”
“No problem,” Marco said. “Would you happen to know any good dog names?”
“I do,” Mr. Hill replied. “But are you sure you want to name a pup you haven’t even seen? Naming someone is a very important and visual experience. For example, when you were born, one of the reasons your mother and I decided to name you Marco Maximus was because you looked like a Marco Maximus.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Marco asked.
“I don’t know.” Mr. Hill laughed at himself. “Perhaps it means you appeared different and dignified…like someone around this table.”
Marco grinned. He knew his father’s ways. “What a way to compliment yourself in a roundabout fashion. Go ahead and hit me with some names.”
“Alright. Here goes. How about…Sunny?”
“Only if it’s very strong.”
“Only if it’s a bloodhound.”
“Only if it has a shadow…Wait, that doesn’t make any sense…maybe.”
“No. I can’t name a dog ‘Bear.’ It would get offended.”
“How about Faith?’ Mr. Hill suggested. “That’s the last one I’ve got.”
“I like that name.”
“Do you like the name ‘Christmas’?” Mrs. Hill asked.
“Yes. But only if the dog was born in December.”
Knowing this could go on for a very long time, Lilly spoke up: “Wait! I’ve got the perfect name for our pup – Buddercup.”
“Buttercup? Like the candy?” Marco questioned.
“No. No. Buddercup,” Lilly repeated.
Mr. and Mrs. Hill looked perplexed, but Marco was overjoyed. “I love it!” he said.
By this time, all had finished their meal, so Lilly volunteered to wash the dishes and Marco helped her clean the kitchen and the glass display case in the living room. Mrs. Hill left to run some errands while Mr. Hill went to work in his home office. Afterward, due to the rain, they reassembled in the living room and watched a movie. Mr. Hill laughed most uproariously causing Lilly to repeatedly turn up the volume; that is, until the phone rang and he went to answer it.
“That was a strange call,” Mr. Hill said as he returned to his place on the couch.
“Who was it from?” Lilly asked turning the volume back down.
“I’m not sure of that,” Mr. Hill said. “However, a woman’s voice was on the other end asking for help.”