Part 1: Pretty Lies

'Jazzy, you look hot! And I love your hair!” Narissa tapped her friend's arm. 'Let's hang out at the mall after school. My mom will pick us up. Wait for me.”

'Okay, I'll meet you on the steps outside the main entrance.”

Jazzy called her mother on her cell phone and asked if she could go with Narissa and her mom to the mall. 'Thanks, Mom!”

altShe dropped her cell phone into her purse and walked confidently down the hall to her class. I've been at Gregory Middle School only two days, and already I've made a friend who's really popular . . . and she wants to hang out with me!

'Hi, Jazzy,” Cariella said shyly. 'Would you like to come to my house this weekend? We could do our homework together and then go on a picnic with my family.”

Jazzy hesitated. I wonder if Narissa wants to do something this weekend. 'I can't this weekend, Cariella. But thank you very much for inviting me. I would love to get together with you another time.”

After school Jazzy waited excitedly on the steps for Narissa.

'C'mon, there's my mom.” Narissa pointed to a classy-looking car parked across the street.

Narissa opened the back door and tossed her backpack on the seat. 'Get in, Jazzy.”

'Mom, this is my friend Jazzy. I invited her to come with us to the mall.”

'Hi, Jazzy, I'm glad to meet you.”

'Hi, Mrs. Jeffrey,” Jazzy responded as she buckled her seat belt.

Narissa got in the front seat and buckled up.

'So, how was school today?” Crystal Jeffrey asked.

'It was okay. But, Mom,” Narissa said dramatically, 'you should have seen what Cariella was wearing!” Narissa rolled her eyes. 'She must have bought her jeans at a discount store, and her top looked like something that an old lady would wear.”

Narissa and her mom laughed.

alt'Well, you meet all kinds of people,” Crystal commented. 'Not everyone has a sense of style.”

Jazzy felt uncomfortable. Maybe Cariella doesn't wear the latest style, but she dresses okay, and she seems like a nice girl.

'Let's get something to eat,” said Crystal as she drove into the parking lot of a popular restaurant.

'Well hello, Crystal.” An attractive young woman stopped Mrs. Jeffrey as she and the girls were about to enter the restaurant. 'How are you?”

'Hi, Katrina,” Crystal said as she hugged the woman. 'I almost didn't recognize you. You're wearing your hair differently now . . . and it looks gorgeous on you.”

'Thank you. I'd stay and chat, but I have an appointment,” Katrina said as she headed for her car.

As soon as Katrina drove off, Crystal commented, 'She looks like a dog! I've never seen such a hideous hairstyle in my life!”

The three sat down at a table in the middle of the restaurant. A waitress approached to take their order, but Jazzy's friend and her mother didn't seem to notice. They continued to discuss Katrina's appearance. Jazzy sat silently, wishing she could be somewhere else.

'She reminded me of a French poodle!” Narissa giggled.

'And did you notice her suit?” Crystal added, 'She must have picked it up at a thrift store! It looked like one I donated a few years ago.”

'I'll bet it was the same one!” exclaimed Narissa.

While the two laughed and exchanged comments about Katrina, the waitress waited patiently, not wanting to interrupt their conversation. Jazzy felt like crawling under the table.

'Would you like for me to come back in a few minutes?” the waitress finally said politely.

'No, we'll order now.”

After the waitress left with their order, Crystal expressed her disapproval. 'Well, she certainly has an attitude! And she can forget about getting a tip!”

As the three were getting up to leave after their meal, Narissa placed two pennies on the table. 'I think she deserves this!”

Crystal Jeffrey agreed. 'You're absolutely right. That's about what she's worth!”

Jazzy felt sick to her stomach. I remember the stories Mom told me about a few of the customers she had when she worked as a waitress to put herself through college.

'I need to stop in the ladies room, Mrs. Jeffrey. I'll meet you at the car.”

As soon as Narissa and her mother walked out the door, Jazzy counted the money in her purse. All I have is $3.45! She found the waitress, put the money into her hand, and whispered, 'I'm sorry about the way they acted.” Then Jazzy quickly went to the restroom.

I'm never doing this again! Jazzy resolved later as she listened to Narissa and her mother discuss a sales associate's outfit in a department store at the mall.

'She'd probably sell more clothing if she wore a different color,” Crystal commented. 'Red looks atrocious on her.”

'And her hair looks like straw,” Narissa added.

Jazzy pondered the situation. I've been wearing new clothes this week. I wonder what they'd say about me tomorrow if I wore something that I bought a year ago!

'Well, we'd better go home,” Crystal finally announced. 'After all, you girls have school tomorrow.”

At last! Jazzy felt like running to the car, but she forced herself to slow down and walk with Narissa and her mom.

'Did you have a good time, Jasmine?” Mindy asked her daughter when she arrived home.

'No, Mom, it was absolutely terrible! I wish I'd never gone with them!”

'What happened?” Mindy questioned.

'Mrs. Jeffrey and Narissa spent most of the time criticizing everyone else's appearance. They made fun of a nice girl at school just because she doesn't wear the latest fashions.”

'That's too bad,” Mindy commented.

'It gets worse, Mom! They made a scene in the restaurant. I was ashamed to be seen with them. They criticized the waitress and left her a two-cent tip! When they were about to leave, I said I needed to go to the restroom. After they left, I told the waitress I was sorry for the way they had acted, and I gave her all the money I had in my purse. Mom, they are such phonies!”

Jazzy continued, 'You always told me, 'If you can't think of anything nice to say, then don't say anything.'”

'I'm proud of you, Jasmine.” Mindy hugged her daughter. 'When people are miserable inside they often project their misery onto other people. They can become very critical and mean-spirited—especially if they don't know the Lord.”

'You're right, Mom. Mean is exactly what they are!”

'Why don't we pray for them every day,” Mindy suggested. 'You never know how God might work.”

'Oh, all right,” Jazzy said unenthusiastically. 'I know we're supposed to pray even for our enemies.”

For the rest of the week Jazzy had no contact with Narissa. Good! I guess she decided that I don't fit in with her and her friends.

'Are you excited about attending a new church this morning?” Mindy asked during breakfast on Sunday.

'Definitely!” Jazzy replied. 'Especially since our pastor back home told us that he personally knows Pastor Daniels and that the new church has a great program for kids and teens.”

Mindy and Jazzy sang a few worship choruses as they drove to church.

'Good morning,” a friendly young man greeted them as they walked from their car to the church. 'Are you new here? I haven't seen you before. My name's Paul.”

'This is our first visit,” Mindy replied. 'We just moved here. I'm Mindy Patterson and this is Jasmine, my daughter.”

'Hi, Paul,” Jazzy said as she shook hands with him. 'Everybody—except my mom—calls me Jazzy.”

'Nice to meet you, Jazzy. Welcome to our church.”

After holding the door for them, Paul said, 'Let me introduce you to a few people.”

Everyone seemed very friendly and genuinely glad that Mindy and Jazzy were there. Pastor Daniels preached a wonderful message encouraging people to put their trust in God during difficult times.

'We've found our church home!” Mindy whispered to her daughter.

Jazzy agreed. 'Definitely!”

As Mindy and Jazzy were leaving church, someone called, 'Jazzy! Wait up!”

Jazzy turned around . . . Oh no! It can't be!

'Well, you must be Jazzy's mom.” Crystal Jeffrey shook Mindy's hand. 'Welcome to our church!”

(Jazzy and Mindy face some challenging decisions. Be sure to read Part 2 of 'Pretty Lies” for the dramatic conclusion of this story.)

© by Nancy A. Stevens