As Phoebe walked home from church she could not get Reverend Tuck’s words out of her mind. She pulled the ripped sheet of paper from her pocket. The two pieces formed a letter from Reverend Tuck asking the congregation to approve a resolution making the ‘stewardship of life on earth a central mission and calling of our church at this time’.
Phoebe realized that she desperately needed a friend to talk to. She thought of Glenda and her daughter Tiny, who lived nearby. She limped up a narrow lane and knocked at the door of the small cottage next to the forest. She heard Glenda’s voice, and opened the door to a living room cluttered with plates and cups, blocks, books, and toys. Glenda sat on a couch near a coffee table, and her daughter Tiny on the floor nearby. Abby, a classmate of theirs from high school, sat on a chair with a plate in her lap.
“Phoebe!” cried Glenda, jumping up and stepping over things to give her a hug. Phoebe was relieved by the warm reception, and said hello to Abby and gave her a smile. Abby’s dark eyes smoldered in her thin, pale face, framed by long black hair. In black jeans and a black tee shirt, she looked even thinner than the year before.
“I didn’t know you were back," said Abby, as if this were important news that she should have known about.
“I just got in yesterday. I’m staying at Penny’s, just a block away.”
Tiny looked up at Phoebe from her spot among the papers, crayons, and toys on the floor. She was a young child with thick brown hair and wide brown eyes. Phoebe smiled and waved, and Tiny shyly waved back.
They soon realized they had all just returned from church. Phoebe said she was surprised that Reverend Tuck had given such a passionate sermon.
“He’s been building up to it for months,” Glenda said. "It's a big controversy here in Middletown."
“I was outside when a group of angry people walked out," said Phoebe. "It was kind of scary. One of them said that Tuck is dangerous and has to be defeated. Dangerous, that was his word. What could he have meant by that?”
Glenda had lines of worry stretching across her forehead. “Who were those people?” she asked. “Is Reverend Tuck in danger?”
“I assumed it was just a bunch of hot air,” said Phoebe, trying to be reassuring. “You know, it does occur to me that Tuck was calling for action about all this. He’s serious, demanding big changes. On the way home I was trying to figure out exactly what he thought we should do.”
“Well, it’s not something that can be fixed in a few weeks,” replied Abby sarcastically. “You’ll be leaving town to go back to college.”
“Well, actually, I dropped out of college, and I can’t play sports anymore.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Glenda. “I’d heard about that, and should have asked you.”
“No, it’s okay,” Phoebe hurried to reply. “I’d like to get a job for awhile.”
“Well then, maybe we can do something after all,” Abby said, with a thoughtful look on her face and a new tone of voice.
“Let me know if you’ve got any ideas,” offered Phoebe. “Maybe we could work together, form a team...” She held her breath, afraid they would think it a silly idea.
“I want to be a part of something like that,” declared Abby. She looked at Phoebe as if she were offering a challenge. “And those people who walked out of church today, I might know some of them. These problems might be…” Abby took a deep breath, “very close to home.”