The Sobaks’ house was small. So when Mr. and Mrs. Sobak had grown tired of hearing Nicole complain about sharing her room with Stella, they weren’t sure what to do, because there was no other room that they could put the younger girl in. Finally they had decided to fix the attic up, and that became Stella’s room.
Stella liked her attic-room, though it got messy often. It was bigger than the room she and Nicole had shared before, and she didn’t have to keep her toys in the special closet in the hall downstairs. She could just keep them in her room. Sometimes it was scary, sleeping in such a big, lonely room with no one to whisper to in the darkness, or when there were storms and the branches of the big oak tree brushed against the roof as the walls creaked. But when that happened, Stella would pray to Jesus that everything would be all right.
Stella plopped herself on the purple bedspread that covered her bed and looked around. Maybe I should read, she thought, looking at the small bookshelf beside her bed. Maybe I can play dress-up. She cocked her head, thinking, as she stared at her wardrobe. Or maybe… She looked at a large plastic box in a corner. I can play with Legos!
Stella hopped up, opened the door of her room, and skipped down the stairs. She ran into the hallway and stopped at the farthest door. Then she knocked. No one answered.
Knocking on the door again, she called into the room. “Luke! Hey, Luke!”
No one answered, so Stella decided to open the door.
Inside, as she had expected, her seventeen-year-old brother Luke was playing video games, his gray eyes glued to the screen. He didn’t even notice that someone had entered his room.
“Hey, Luke!” Stella called again, but she was already feeling disappointed. “Do you want to play Legos with me?”
Luke waved his hand at her without even a glance. “Go away,” he said, although he hadn’t even known what Stella had asked for.
“But Luke –”
“You heard what I said. Now, go away!”
Stella closed the door to Luke’s room and turned once again to the stairs. She climbed them slowly, hoping against hope that Luke would come out of his room and call her, telling her that he did want to play with Legos after all. And then he’d apologize for ignoring her so much lately, and for all the times he told her to shut up or go away…
But Stella knew that it wouldn’t happen. Once she was back in her room, she sat back down on her bed and stared out the window. Why don’t Luke and Nicole like me anymore? she wondered. Stella gazed at the tree swing that hung from the big oak tree. The swing swung wildly in the wind. She could see the house across the street where the Mortons lived, and the house next door where Mrs. Grayson lived.
Stella rested her freckled face against the cold window pane. The dark clouds that covered the blue sky that day reflected her mood. “Dear Jesus,” she whispered. “I feel lonely right now.”
Suddenly Stella heard the jingle of dog tags. She had left the door to her room open, and the Sobaks’ pet, Bear, had entered. Bear was a medium-sized poodle with dark, curly fur. He loved to be cuddled by anyone who was willing. Bear trotted up to the bed and hopped onto Stella’s lap.
“Thanks, Jesus,” Stella smiled, wrapping her arms around Bear.