Tempted to Steal

By Linda Porter Carlyle

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans skipped ahead of her mother to the big glass door of the toy store. “Can I look in the art aisle for a while?” she asked over her shoulder. “Please?”

Mom caught up with Mac, pushed open the door, and she and Mac went in. “I guess so,” she answered. “But stay right in that aisle so I can find you. I don’t think I’ll be very long. I know just what I’m looking for.”

“I know too!” Mac giggled. “Blocks. You always give wooden blocks for a present whenever anyone has a baby!”

“Blocks are an excellent present,” Mom retorted. “You played with yours long after you were a baby. You still play with them sometimes on rainy days!”

“I know,” Mac said. “But I would rather look at art stuff now while you go find them.”

Mac discovered the art aisle was just as interesting as it had been the last time she visited it. Even the ordinary things, such as the brand-new boxes of crayons filled with their own rainbows of color, were fun to look at. And then there were rubber stamps with all kinds of designs and messages to read. And there were paint-by-number kits and books of designs and fascinating mazes. And gel pens! Mac felt magnetically pulled to the gel-pen display. She really, really wanted some gel pens of her own! Especially a gold one! She was positive there was nothing in the world more elegant than writing in gold ink!

Mac pulled a clear plastic package of gel pens from its hook on the wall. It was a perfect assortment! There was a gold pen and a silver pen, a pink pen, a blue pen, a green pen, and a lavender pen. Mac’s eyes sparkled at the thought of the beautiful drawings she could make with them. She wondered if she dared to ask Mom to buy them for her. Probably not. She had overhead Mom and Dad last night talking about bills and taxes and car payments and other grown-up money stuff. They had not sounded happy.

Mac reached out to hang the package back up when a sudden thought zapped into her mind. I could just slip the package of pens into my pocket. Nobody would ever know I took them!

Mac shook her head, and her red curls bounced. Where had that thought come from? She played with the idea for a moment. It was true. It would be very easy to slide the pens into her pocket. It was a big, deep pocket. Then she could just walk out of the store with them. If she only drew with the pens in her bedroom, Mom would never know she had them. And it sure would be a lot of fun to write in all those different colors! Her name would look absolutely gorgeous in lavender!

Then another thought bounced into Mac’s brain. Thou shalt not steal. Mac knew exactly where that thought had come from. She had known that Bible verse forever. For as long as she could remember. Mac sighed. She understood very well that stealing was wrong. She reached out and carefully hung the package of pens back in its place.

Mac heard familiar footsteps approaching. Mom came around the corner, carrying a big box of colorful wooden blocks. “I found them!” she announced happily. “Have you had a good time looking around?”

Mac nodded. “Someday I want to do a paint-by-numbers picture,” she said. “But they’re really expensive.”

“I remember doing paint-by-numbers when I was a girl,” Mom said softly. “It was fun.” She looked around. “And I remember how I loved getting new boxes of crayons,” she went on. “I loved their perfect sharp points. I loved reading the names of the colors.” She looked at Mac. “Are you ready to go?”

Mac nodded.

Mom looked surprised. “Aren’t you going to ask me to buy you anything?”

“Nope!” Mac answered. She flung out her arms and twirled around in the middle of the aisle.

Mom pretended to look worried. “Are you sick?” She reached out a hand and put it on Mac’s forehead as if she were feeling for a fever.

Mac grinned.

Mom grinned back. “I thought for sure you’d ask me to buy you some gel pens,” she said. “I know you’ve been wanting some.”

Mac’s mouth dropped open in astonishment. “You do?” she asked.

Mom lifted a package of pens from its hook. “This looks good,” she said. “A gold pen, a silver pen, a pink one, a blue one, a green one, and a lavender one. Would you be happy with this assortment?”

Mac felt her heart swell with happiness. Happiness that Mom was going to buy her the pens she wanted. Happiness that there was not a package of those very same pens in her pocket already! She joyfully jumped from one foot to the other and back again. “Yes!” she shouted.

No!

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