The Snickerdudels

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Israel: Transitions

It was so early in the morning that Israel slept through most of their time at the airport, but as soon as they got on the plane, he was wide awake. Papa kept his hand on Israel’s shoulder as they walked down the aisle to their seats. Israel felt like everyone was staring at him as he walked past, so he tried his very best not to run into anyone, but it was hard because people kept stopping in front of him to lift their bags into the big cubbies near the ceiling of the airplane.

“Right here, Israel,” Papa said, steering Israel into a seat near the back of the plane. Israel climbed up onto the seat and slid over to the window, where he could see other people and other planes down on the pavement. He took his backpack off and said, “Papa, that plane way over there is going so fast.” Israel watched as the front of the speeding plane began lifting off the ground. Soon, the entire plane was in the air, and it was by far the coolest thing Israel had ever seen.

“Larry, can I sit next to Israel?” Mom asked, and Israel turned around quickly to look at her. “I want to sit by Papa, not you.”

Papa smiled back at Israel and got up from the seat next to him. “I’ll be close, I promise.”

“But I don’t want to sit by Mom,” Israel whined, reaching for Papa’s arm. But he was already too far away, and Mom moved into the seat, looking angry. “That was very rude, Israel.”

“But I can’t talk to Papa if he’s all the way over there,” Israel whined, leaning around Mom so he could see Meemaw and Papa settling into their seats across the aisle. Meemaw waved at him, and Israel waved back.

“Israel, listen to me,” Mom said, gently pushing him back into his seat. “You were so good in the airport this morning, but I cannot have you kicking off now, do you understand? Planes are very small spaces, which means that if you keep whining, everyone on the plane is going to hear it and be very annoyed with you. With us. And we’re going to be on this plane for four very long hours. Do you want to upset everyone and then be stuck with them for four hours?”

Israel frowned down at his hands. Mom was never any fun, and she definitely didn’t know anything about planes, so how was Israel supposed to get answers to his questions from her? He still worried that the plane was going to crash. Or maybe that their plane wouldn’t lift smoothly off the ground like the other plane had. Since Mom couldn’t explain things about planes, how would Israel know it was going to be okay?

“Israel, did you hear anything I just said?”

Israel nodded, even though he wanted to argue with her, because it made his stomach hurt whenever Mom used her mad voice.

“Thank you,” Mom said. Then she took his hand. “Besides, honey, it’s your very first time on an airplane, and I just want to be right here next to you the whole time so we can both remember this.” She smiled at him, and Israel smiled back.

When they stepped outside of the airport in Missouri, the weather made Israel want to go back inside immediately. “Mom, I can’t breathe,” he said, rubbing his chest. “The air is so heavy.”

“It’s called ‘humidity,’” Papa said. “It just means that there’s a lot of little tiny droplets of water in the air. You’ll get used to it.”

Only Israel didn’t, and he was sweating by the time Dad showed up in the car even though all he had done was sit on a bench.

“Are you ready to see the new house?” Dad asked, giving Israel a sweaty hug.

“No,” Israel said.

Dad just laughed and went to hug Mom.

“Meemaw and I will sit by you in the back seat, Israel,” Papa said, and Israel ran over to the car to climb into the middle seat.

The first thing Israel thought and said when he saw their new house was, “Where are all the other houses?”

Everyone except Israel laughed, and then Dad said, “There are houses on the other side of the street, see? But we have our own slice of paradise over here, next to the church.”

Israel frowned. He didn’t want to live next to their church, he wanted to have neighbors. But the only thing on his side of the street besides his house and his church was a hill and a school. “Is that my school?”

“No,” Mom said. “You’ll be going to the Lutheran school, where they can talk about God.”

Israel pulled at the bottom of his shirt. He had always wondered why the teachers didn’t talk about God at his old school, so being able to talk about God at school would be nice, but… “Can I walk to school still?”

“No, honey. It’s much too far.”

Israel sighed and kicked at the grass. Missouri was so green, but somehow there were no cacti in sight. Where was the sand, and the rocks, and the big jagged mountains, like in Saguaro National Park?

“Let’s go check out the inside of the house,” Dad said, taking Israel’s hand.

Israel dragged his feet all the way to the front door, which was plain white and had a door knob. Their old house had had a brown door and a door handle. What was worse was that, inside the house, the door didn’t open right into the living room. Instead, there were some hooks on the wall for jackets and another door, which turned out to be a closet.

“The kitchen is really nice,” Dad told Mom, and she and Meemaw stepped past Israel to go see it.

“Israel, do you want to see your room?” Dad asked.

Israel nodded. He was curious, after all. His old room had been one of his favorite places ever, so maybe if he put all of his stuff into his new room, it would feel the same and he might be able to imagine that he was still in Arizona and that Ross and Dylan were going to come over later and Meemaw and Papa were still just down the street…

Dad pulled Israel through the living room and the kitchen, which didn’t have a wall between them, and then down a hallway. Israel stopped at the first door in the hall, but Dad pulled him past it gently. “That’s just a bathroom. Your room is this door here.” He pointed to the door at the end of the hallway, and Israel let go of his hand. He jumped forward and opened the door, squeezing his eyes shut.

When he opened his eyes, Israel saw that his new room was about the same size as his old one. Instead of being a sunny yellow, it was blue. Israel didn’t even like blue. “Why is it blue?”

“We can change it,” Dad promised. “That’s just what color the church members painted it when they made this house for us.”

Israel stepped over to the wooden doors that had little shiny knobs in the middle. He tried to pull them towards himself, but the doors were stuck.

“Here, like this,” Dad said. He grabbed both knobs and pushed the doors to the side, so that each door bent and slid to the side.

Israel scrunched his eyebrows. Why couldn’t the door just be a normal door? This room was stupid. Israel stepped away from the closet and peered out the window, where he could see a lot of grass and the back of their new church. Israel sighed and touched the blue wall. It didn’t even feel the same as his old wall. Plus, he realized, looking down at his feet, his old room had had hardwood floors, and this one had carpet. This room could never remind him or Arizona.

“Do you like it?” Dad asked, smiling at him. “When I saw it, I just knew that it was going to be perfect for you.”

“Yeah, I… I like it,” Israel lied, keeping his eyes on the floor.

The moving truck showed up the next day, after Israel and his family slept on the blankets, pillows, and air mattress that Dad had drove to Missouri in the car. Israel didn’t feel like helping the movers, so he sat on the steps right outside the back door and stared out at all the green and at the school that he lived next to but wasn’t going to go to. After a while, he spotted some color just behind the school and decided that it must be a playground. Israel wanted to play on it, so he ran inside and ended up finding Mom first. In his nicest voice, he asked, “Can I go play on the playground?”

“What playground?” Mom asked. Then to the movers, she said, “That goes in Israel’s room. Yes, I mean the ‘kid’s room.’”

“The one at the school,” Israel said impatiently, pointing out the back door.

“Israel, don’t leave the doors open. You’ll let bugs in, and I know you know that.” She walked over and closed the back door for him.

“But can I go?”

Mom sighed and rubbed her forehead. “Maybe Meemaw can take you.”

Israel hugged Mom and ran off to find Meemaw, who he found sitting against the wall, fanning herself, in Mom and Dad’s new room. “Meemaw, can you take me to the playground at the school? It’s really close and Mom said it was okay.”

“Well,” Meemaw said, smiling, “I guess it’s okay, since neither of us are much help around here.” She started getting up slowly, but then she put out her hands. “Israel, help your Meemaw out.”

Israel took her hands and did his best to help her up. Once she was on her feet, they grabbed two of the water bottles that Dad had bought at a gas station and left the house, Israel leading the way down the grassy hill to the playground.

After playing outside for a long time, Israel and Meemaw headed back to the new house and ate lunch with Mom, Dad, and Papa. Playing had made Israel starving, so he ate two turkey sandwiches and a ton of carrot sticks and cucumber slices.

“You’re such a good eater,” Papa said, patting Israel’s back as he dipped his carrots in ranch. “When I was your age, my parents couldn’t even get me to touch anything green, much less put it in my mouth.”

“What about orange things?” Israel asked, offering Papa a carrot with ranch already on it.

Papa took it. “I hated carrots, too. But not anymore.”

The adults talked more while Israel ate a few more cucumbers, and then Dad said, “Israel, why don’t you, Meemaw, and Papa go for a walk around the neighborhood across the street? That way, Mom and I can start getting things organized around here without you getting bored.”

“Okay,” Israel agreed.

“I bet we’ll see lots of kids who are just like you,” Papa said. “Maybe you’ll even make a fast friend.”

Israel grimaced. None of them would be just like him, because they weren’t from Arizona and they hadn’t just moved here. But he didn’t want to stay at the house, so he didn’t say anything.

“Just let me go to the bathroom and then I’ll be ready to go,” Meemaw said, standing up slowly and walking away.

“Me too,” Papa said, getting up and heading for the bathroom in Mom and Dad’s room.

“Are you having a good day, sweetie?” Mom asked, smoothing Israel’s hair.

Israel shrugged and she leaned over to hug him. “I know it’s hard to be in a new place, but you’ll get used to it in no time. Besides, by the time you get back, Dad will have your bed set up in your room, and that will help it start looking like home, don’t you think?”

Israel nodded. “When can we make my room yellow?”

Mom grimaced. “Maybe that can be a Christmas gift.”

Before Israel could protest, Dad said, “Yes, I think that sounds like a great idea.”

“Can we take out the carpet?” Israel asked, picking at his shoe lace.

“And why would we do that?” Mom asked, laughing. “Don’t be silly, Israel. All the flooring in the house is brand new, and it’s very nice.”

“Okay,” Israel mumbled.

“Okay, are we ready to go?” Papa asked, walking out of Mom and Dad’s room.

Israel hopped up and nodded. Anything to get away from the house sounded good to him.

Israel didn’t make any friends on the walk with Meemaw and Papa. He didn’t make any friends the next week either, even when there were other kids playing at the playground behind the school. When it came time for Meemaw and Papa to leave, Israel hung onto them as tightly as he could, not wanting his only friends to leave him.

“Israel, let go of his leg,” Mom said, grabbing him around his waist and trying to pull him away from Papa.

“No,” Israel wailed, holding on tighter and closing his eyes. “They can’t leave!”

“Israel Justus, let go right now.”

“Ahava, it’s fine,” Papa said, but Mom didn’t let go of Israel. “We don’t need to leave for another ten minutes.”

Mom sighed and let go of Israel, and Israel looked up at Papa, tears slipping out of his eyes. “Why do you have to leave me?”

“I’m sorry,” Papa said, bending down. Israel let go of his leg and stood up to hug him. Papa held Israel in his arms as he cried, but he didn’t answer Israel’s question.

“We’ll come visit you for Thanksgiving,” Meemaw promised from somewhere above Israel. “And when we come then, we’re going to stay all the way until New Year’s. Does that sound like fun or what?”

Israel nodded into Papa’s shoulder, but even Meemaw’s reassurances couldn’t stop his tears.

“Dad, we really need to get going,” Dad said, and Israel held onto Papa tighter again.

“Why doesn’t Israel ride to the airport with us?” Papa suggested.

“We don’t want him making a scene in the middle of the airport,” Mom said, laughing.

“I want to spend the time with him,” Papa said firmly, and Mom harrumphed. “It’s your funeral.”

“All right, let’s go, Israel,” Papa said happily. “Do you need to go to the bathroom before we leave?”

Israel let go of him and ran to the bathroom. When he came back, he took Papa’s hand and headed out to the car with him, Meemaw, and Dad. Mom stayed by the front door, her arms crossed over her chest. “Be good, Israel.”

Israel ignored her and climbed into the car. Papa put his bags into the trunk and then climbed in next to him, and Israel leaned against him, his heart happy.

He, Meemaw, and Papa talked all the way to the airport about the things they’d do together next time they came to Missouri and the things they’d do together when Israel finally got to go back to Arizona.

“You know, when we do go back to Arizona, it won’t be for very long,” Dad said. “Since I’m a lead pastor now, I don’t get very much time off.”

“Any time with you will be worth it,” Meemaw said, kissing the top of Israel’s head. “Don’t you worry about it.”

Israel reached for her hand, and Meemaw took his and squeezed it. “I love you, my little desert boy.”

“I love you,” Israel told her, leaning into her and closing his eyes.

They got to the airport a few minutes later, and as he saw the entrance into the building, Israel’s stomach began to hurt. “Can you stay another day?” He asked Papa.

“No, I’m sorry Israel,” Papa said, unbuckling his seatbelt. He got out of the car and then held out his hand. “Now come out here and give me one last proper hug before I go.”

Israel unbuckled himself from his seat and tried to hold the tears in his eyes. However, by the time his feet touched the ground outside, he could feel the tears on his cheeks. “I don’t want you to go.”

“I know,” Papa said, hugging him close. “We’re going to miss you so, so much. But I just know that you’re going to do so well here, at your new school and your new church. You’ve always been such a light in our lives, and the lives of your parents, teachers, and friends, that I just know everyone here is going to love you.”

“But I’ll miss you,” Israel sobbed.

“We’ll call you every week, and Meemaw will write you letters. When she remembers, at least.” Papa laughed, and Israel couldn’t help but laugh too.

“Do I get another hug?’ Meemaw laughed, walking around the car.

Israel nodded, let go of Papa, and gave Meemaw the biggest, best hug he could muster. “I miss you already.”

“I’ll miss you too, Israel,” Meemaw said, petting his head one last time. They smiled at each other, and then she let him go. “We’ll see you in a couple of months, all right?”

“Okay,” Israel sobbed. Before he could hug Meemaw or Papa again, Dad stepped over to him and picked him up.

“Let’s wave to them as they go inside, okay?” Dad said.

“Okay,” Israel agreed, wiping his nose. Meemaw and Papa grabbed their bags from the trunk and then headed into the airport, and Dad and Israel waved to them until they couldn’t see them anymore.

The next day, Mom and Dad took Israel into their new church for the first time. Dad had been back and forth between the church and the house the whole time that Meemaw and Papa had been with them, but Israel had never taken his invitations to go over. Now, Mom and Dad didn’t give him a choice.

“Why do I have to wear a tie?” Israel asked as Dad tied the tie around his neck for him.

“Because we’re about to meet everyone who goes to our new church. They’ve made a very nice lunch for us, and we want to make a good first impression on them.”

“Why did they make us lunch?”

“Because they want to welcome us to their church. And it’s just a good way to meet people, kind of like a playdate.”

“Oh,” Israel said, scrunching his eyebrows. “Will I be the only kid?”

“No, of course not,” Dad said, laughing. “You weren’t the only kid at our old church, were you?”

“No,” Israel said, laughing.

Once his tie was tied, Mom and Dad took Israel’s hands and led him over to the church, which was much smaller than their old church. There were eleven cars parked in the parking lot already — Israel counted them twice. “Are we the last ones here?”

“I expect so,” Mom said. “They wouldn’t want us to show up while they were still getting ready, now would they?”

They stepped onto the sidewalk next to the parking lot and, a few steps later, were at the front doors of the church. The doors were all glass, just like their old churches’, and Israel could see people inside.

“I’m a little nervous,” Mom admitted.

“They’re going to love you, honey,” Dad promised, and then he opened the door and let Mom and Israel go in ahead of him.

“Welcome!” Many of the people said as they stepped in. Israel looked back at Mom and Dad, who were all smiles.

“It’s so good to see all of you at once,” Dad said, stepping past Israel and shaking people’s hands. Mom took Israel’s hand once again and pulled him towards the people.

“This is my wife, Ahava,” Dad was saying to a man and a woman who looked even older than Meemaw and Papa, “and this is my son, Israel.”

“And how old are you, Israel?” The woman asked, leaning down until her face was very close to Israel’s.

“Six,” Israel said, looking down at his shoes.

“Well, isn’t he the cutest,” the lady said. When Israel looked up, she was standing up straight again.

“Thank you,” Dad said, smiling.

Dad said almost the same things to everyone as he, Mom, and Israel moved around, talking to everyone at the church. Some of the adults introduced Israel to their kids, but only one of the ones that Israel met was six years old like him, but there was three five year olds and a seven year old, so Israel thought that maybe they could be friends, too. However, the thought of going to play with them — especially since none of them asked him to come play and they all knew each other’s names and Israel could only remember the boy named Andrew’s name — made his stomach hurt. Israel held onto Mom’s hand, even when they went first in the line to get food.

“Israel, you have to let go so that I can carry my plate and you can carry yours.” Mom said, shaking her hand loose from his grip.

“Can you carry my plate?” Israel asked.

“You are six years old. You can carry your own food, okay?”

Israel took the plate from Mom and stuck his lip out. Then he saw an older boy staring at him, and he pulled his lip back in. He didn’t like the other kids. They played weird games.

After they ate lunch, Israel asked Dad to leave, but Dad just laughed and told him to go play with the other kids. Then, when Israel found Mom, she told him that she was having an ‘adult conversation’ and sent him off to make friends, too.

Israel dragged his feet over to a staircase. He had seen some of the other kids go down it earlier. He looked over his shoulder and no one told him not to go down the stairs, so he went. To his surprise, there were big hallways downstairs, and he could hear voices echoing down the halls. After wandering for a little bit, amazed by the number of rooms and bathrooms in this church that had looked small from the outside, Israel found a gym that was, for some reason, covered in smooth carpet. A bunch of the other kids were running around the gym or playing with some balls. Israel watched them, not sure what to do, until a girl ran up to him. “My name’s Allison. What’s yours?”

“Israel.” He was pretty sure that she was one of the kids near his age. Maybe they could be friends?

“Do you want to play freeze tag?”

“Okay,” Israel said. He had played freeze tag in P.E. at his old school. “Where’s the base?”

“Over there,”Allison said, pointing to a glass door. “But we’re not allowed to go outside, so don’t go out the door when you’re there.”

Israel nodded, and then Allison touched his chest, almost hard enough to be a push, and laughed. “You’re frozen now!” She ran away, still laughing, and Israel stayed where he was, hoping that someone would come crawl between his legs so that he would be unfrozen. However, as he watched, he didn’t see anyone crawling between anyone else’s legs. Instead, they were just high fiving each other to get unfrozen, and Israel didn’t like it.

He stood in the doorway to the gym for a long, long time and no one came over to unfreeze him.

“Can we play something else?” The boy near Israel’s age — Andrew — whined from across the gym.

“Nope,” and older boy said, tagging him. “And I’ll keep tagging you every time you ask.”

“But we were on a team,” Andrew cried as the older boy ran off.

“Team?” Israel muttered to himself. There were no teams in freeze tag. And no one was unfreezing him. It was stupid, even though Israel wasn’t supposed to say that word. But no one could hear him thinking it. He smiled to himself and left the gym, instead wandering the halls until he found a door that was unlocked. He went inside and looked around. The room was completely white except for one wall that was black. Someone had drawn on the black part, and Israel went over to look closer at it, wondering it they had gotten in trouble. The drawing was a mouse, and underneath, there was a name. Gracelyn. Israel touched the name, wondering why anyone would write their name when drawing on the wall wasn’t allowed. When he pulled his hand away from the wall, some of the pink from the drawing was on his fingers. Israel looked closer at the pink stuff and realized that it might have been chalk.

He looked around the room and, sure enough, there was a bucket of chalk on a cart in one of the corners. Israel took the bucket over to the black part of the wall, picked up a yellow piece of chalk, and brought it to the wall. But his hand shook, and he dropped it at his side. What if he really wasn’t supposed to draw on the wall?

Israel touched the mouse, and more pink came off on his hands. He wasn’t going to sign his name, so no one would even know that it was him if he drew something, right? A nodded to himself and then began drawing a sun.

“There you are, Israel, we’ve been looking all over for you,” Mom said, swooping over and giving Israel a big hug and a kiss on his cheek. “Why are you in here alone?”

“I don’t know,” Israel said, putting the piece of chalk he had been holding into his pocket.

“Well, I see you found the chalk wall,” Dad said, smiling at him and putting a hand on his shoulder. Did you draw all this?”

Israel nodded. “Except the mouse.”

“Well, it’s very good,” Dad said, patting his shoulder. “Are you ready to go say goodbye and head home?”

Israel nodded enthusiastically, and Mom and Dad took his hands and led him upstairs. After they said goodbye to all the new people, they left the church and walked back home.

“Did you make any friends before you found the chalk wall?” Dad asked.

“I played freeze tag,” Israel said, and Mom and Dad smiled.

“I’m so glad you got to play with kids your own age,” Mom said. “We were worried that you’d get bored, playing with me and Dad and Meemaw and Papa all the time.”

“You’re not boring,” Israel said, swinging Mom and Dad’s hands happily. “The other kids were a little bit boring.”

“How’s that?” Dad asked.

“They had different rules.”

“Well, that’s okay. You can learn their rules, and then sometime you can teach them the rules you know. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

Israel shrugged. He liked his rules the most, but he didn’t think the other kids would like them. He needed Ross and Dylan, and even Sammy, Icker, and Hailey back so they could play games the right way.

By the end of the day, Israel’s room was finally all put together, with his toys and books in the right places and the pictures of him, Mom, Dad, Meemaw and Papa and him, Ross, and Dylan on his nightstand. Israel played with his train set on the floor after dinner, until Mom came in and told him that it was time for bed.

“I’m not tired,” Israel told her, pushing his super long train over the bridge.

“Israel, honey, you need sleep. I can read you a story, and then Dad will come in and we call all pray together.”

“Two stories?” Israel asked.

“Okay, two stories.”

Israel got up and let Mom help him change into his pajamas and brush his teeth. When they settled down in his bed to read, Mom said, “You know what, we’ve read all of your books so many times. What do you say we go buy one or two new ones tomorrow?”

“Okay,” Israel agreed, grinning. He usually only got new books as presents, or from Meemaw and Papa when they bought them at the library book sale.

“Maybe we can get you a chapter book,” Mom said. “It will be a new challenge, since you’re going into first grade.”

“Will it have pictures?” Israel asked.

“We can find one with pictures,” Mom said, nodding. “There just might not be as many pictures as the books you’re used to, okay?”


“Because there will be more words in a chapter book than there are in your picture books. But don’t worry, the stories will be just as good. They might even be better.”

Israel liked the idea of better stories — not that his books were bad, but Papa and Ross had told cooler stories than some of his books, and Israel thought he would like a book with a cooler story.

“All right,” Mom said, grabbing one of the books that Israel had chosen. She started reading, and Israel snuggled into her.

Halfway through the second book, Dad walked into Israel’s room and sat on the edge of the bed to listen to the rest of the story. When Mom was done, Dad moved the books back to Israel’s bookshelf and then came back over to the bed. “Are we ready to pray?”

Israel nodded eagerly, and Dad held his hands out. Mom took one, and Israel took the other.

“Heavenly Father,” Dad said once Israel’s head was bowed, “we thank you so much for our new home in Missouri and the gift of this new community that you have given us. We thank you that Israel is finally settling in to our new home and our new life, and we ask that you help us all adjust to our new lives smoothly as the changes continue to come. Mom?”

Mom took a breath. “God, thank you for our new church family and for teaching them to have such open hearts for their new pastor and his family. Thank you for instilling generosity into the hearts of Larry and Lindy so that we don’t have to struggle to feed ourselves before I find a job. We just feel so blessed by you, Lord.”

Mom nudged Israel, and he knew that is was his turn. “God,” he said, and then his voice got stuck in his throat. Ever since they had moved, Israel had had a hard time finding things to thank God for. He had thanked him for letting Meemaw and Papa stay here when they had still been here, and then he had thanked God for the playground close to his house and for the playground Mom had driven him to with the huge slide, and then for the playground their house again. Today, though, Israel just wanted to ask God why they couldn’t have stayed in Arizona. He didn’t feel blessed like Mom and Dad did. He felt like God hated him, for making him move and for making him leave all of his friends and for making the kids here have different rules for their games and for painting his room blue instead of yellow.

“Israel, what are you thankful for?” Dad asked.

“God, thank you for the cool chalk wall in the church,” Israel said, relief flooding through him as he found the words. “But God, I just really hope you can help me find friends like Ross and Dylan, because I miss them. And I miss Meemaw and Papa, so I hope you can help them come again soon.”

“In Your name we pray,” Dad said, and then all of them said, “Amen.”

Israel opened his eyes and looked up to find Dad frowning and Mom smiling at Israel, even though her eyes were sad. “You know, Israel,” she said, “I think I should teach you how to write a letter tomorrow. That way, you and Ross and Dylan can stay in touch. Would you like that?”

Israel nodded.

Israel spent most of the rest of the summer in his room and at the playground behind the school. He found that he really liked reading chapter books, and when he told Mom and Dad, they took him to a garage sale in the neighborhood across the street and bought more of them for him.

When Israel wasn’t reading, he sat at the kitchen table, carefully writing letters to Meemaw, Ross, and Dylan in his very best handwriting. He mostly told them about the books he was reading and about the fireflies that he caught in their backyard in the evenings, but sometimes he told them about other things, too. Like how the people at their new church really liked Dad and his sermons, and about how the kids at the church had weird rules for just about every game they played, but at least they started telling Israel instead of just leaving him to figure them out for himself. He told them about how Mom got a job at the bookstore that she had taken Israel to, even though Israel had never seen Mom go to work before now.

With Dad super busy writing his sermons and doing all sorts of other things at the church and Mom working every day at the bookstore, Israel spent a lot of time alone in his room or at the chalk wall in the church. Even though he liked being alone sometimes, other times he sat and cried because he missed his friends and his old life in Arizona so badly.

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