Book 3: Israel's Story
“When are we going to tell him?”
“Phineas, he’s six. Will he really fully understand? Will he be all that upset?”
“Exactly, Ahava. He’s six. Moving is like pulling his whole world out from under him.”
Israel Benton lived in a small blue house in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Right outside of Phoenix.” Or, at least, that’s what his dad always said.
The only thing that mattered to Israel was that he lived right next door to his first best friend, Ross, and down the street from his second best friend, Dylan. Israel’s grandparents even lived right next to their school, and Israel went to their house everyday when the bell rang.
Every morning Israel woke up to a soft knock on his bedroom door. His dad poked his head in and said, “It’s a great day to serve the Lord, Israel!”
Israel knew that serving the Lord meant making his bed before he went down to eat breakfast, where he served the Lord by telling his mom “please” and “thank you.” It was one of the Ten Commandments.
“You did your homework last night, right Israel?” his mom asked as he sat down next to her to eat his breakfast.
“Yes,” Israel said, blowing on a spoonful of oatmeal. He put it in his mouth even before it had cooled down.
“Of course you did your homework,” Israel’s dad said, sitting down at the table across from Israel and his mother. “You’re a homework monster!”
Israel laughed with his dad. Even when they were done laughing, Israel didn’t stop smiling. He liked it when his dad was pleased with him.
When he finished his breakfast, Israel ran upstairs to get dressed. He put on a blue shirt and khaki shorts, which were his good shorts with good pockets. Then he brushed his teeth and combed his hair.
“Israel,” his mother called from downstairs. “Ross and Dylan are here.”
“Coming,” Israel yelled. He put his comb down, grabbed his backpack from his bedroom, and ran downstairs. “Hi,” he said to his best friends.
“Hey,” Dylan said. He wore the heavy metal shirt that Israel’s dad didn’t like.
“Hi,” Ross said, smiling.
Israel put on his shoes, and he and his friends began the walk to school.
“I get to go to camp this summer,” Dylan said. “You have to be done with kindergarten to go.”
“I want to go to camp,” Ross said. “But I can’t because I would miss synagogue, and Mom won’t let me.”
“Dad wouldn’t let me miss church,” Israel said. “I’ve never missed a service.”
“I’m not missing anything,” Dylan said.
“I invited you to church before,” Israel said.
Ross and Israel made eye contact, and Ross shrugged.
On their walk, Israel and his friends passed Israel’s grandparents’ house. He hoped that Meemaw and Papa would be out on the front porch so Israel could wave, but they weren’t.
“My sister says summer camp is the best,” Dylan said. “I’m glad I can go.”
“Good,” Israel said. He wouldn’t want to break his church record just for a silly camp.
When they got to school, Israel said goodbye to his friends, and they went to their separate classes. Mom had said that they got unlucky that none of them were in the same class, and Israel agreed. He didn’t know anyone besides Ross and Dylan.
“Good morning, Israel,” Mrs. Thomason said.
“Good morning,” Israel said. He picked up the popsicle stick with his name on it and put it in the “here” cup. After he hung his backpack on his hook and got his folder out, he headed to his desk.
Israel was part of team three in his class. There were six teams in Mrs. Thomason’s class, and all of them had four desks except one, which had three. At the beginning of the year, they had made posters for their team, which Mrs. Thomason hung on the ceiling above their desks. Israel’s team included two girls, Hailey and Jody, and another boy named Samuel. They had decorated their poster with animals, because both Hailey and Samuel wanted to be veterinarians when they grew up.
When Israel sat down, neither Hailey nor Samuel acknowledged him. Israel busied himself with his morning work, which was a math coloring worksheet, until Jody showed up and the bell rang. Mrs. Thomason shut the door and came in to start class, which meant everyone went to the rug and they changed the day of the week, the date, and the weather.
By the time morning recess came around, Israel was ready to play with Ross and Dylan. Morning class was always boring for Israel, and he welcomed the fun break.
Israel found Ross and Dylan saving him a swing, as always. He ran to them, got on his swing, and they all began pumping away.
“My teacher said that school ends next week,” Ross said.
“Yeah, it’s on the calendar my mom has,” Dylan said.
“Do you guys want to come to the Summer Bash at my church?” Israel asked. The youth pastors always organized one for the Saturday after school ended.
“I’ll ask my mom,” Dylan said.
“Me too,” Ross said. “But I hope they don’t have a clown this year.”
“Me too,” Israel said, shivering.
“Clowns aren’t scary,” Dylan said. “You should see the horror movies my dad watches. Those are scary.”
“I saw part of one last time I was there,” Israel told Ross. “They’re really scary. There’s blood and big loud things…”
“Chainsaws,” Dylan said.
“Yeah,” Israel agreed. “I don’t like them.”
“I hope I never see one.” Ross said.
“I hope my dad will let me watch a movie with him this summer,” Dylan said.
They kept talking until Dylan’s teacher blew the whistle, and everyone on the playground ran to get in line.