‘Get off me!’
‘Shhhh, you’ll wake everyone up.’
‘No. Get off me!’
Sienna sighed, not sure if it was her brothers’ muffled words or the sound of them wrestling that had woken her up, but she certainly didn’t need an alarm clock. The paper-thin walls were not enough to keep out the noises coming from the room her young brothers shared. Even though they were in the other room, she knew that Jack was sitting on Theo, trying to wrestle with him and not bang his head on the top bunk at the same time. Jack had always loved wrestling, and Sienna had been grateful when baby Theo had grown big enough to join in, so she didn’t have to!
Opening her eyes, she looked around the little box room, which her mum had painted pink when they moved in. But that was three years ago, and now, at eleven, she was far too old for a pink room. She closed her eyes and imagined what it would look like painted white, with one teal wall, and maybe some fairy lights. But knowing how hard Mum had to work, and how tight money was, she really didn’t want to ask.
Sienna shot out of bed and ran into the boys’ bedroom. Jack and Theo had somehow both ended up on the floor, in a bundle of duvets and cuddly toys. Sienna wanted to giggle, it was such a funny sight, but before she had the chance, she heard Theo start to cry. It wasn’t a quiet little sob, it was a really loud, everyone’s-going-to-hear-this cry.
Pushing seven-year-old Jack out of the bundle of bedding, Sienna untangled her baby brother, who was getting bigger all the time and could hardly be called a baby now he was four.
‘Shhh, Theo. Are you hurt?’ she asked.
‘Theo, shhh, you’ll wake up Mum,’ whispered Jack.
Sienna turned to him and gave him her best big sister stare. It didn’t often work, but today it did. Jack looked a little bit sorry and started to quickly pick up the duvets and pillows and put them back on the beds.
Sienna continued checking over Theo. She very quickly saw that he wasn’t really hurt, but she could also see that he wasn’t going to stop crying until he had woken Mum and everyone else in the street. She helped Jack straighten the duvets, and they had just got everything sorted out when the door opened and Mum walked in, looking like she had just got out of bed.
‘What’s going on in here?’ asked Mum, bending down to pick up Theo.
‘Jack hit me!’
‘It’s fine now,’ said three voices all at once.
Mum looked at her three children and smiled, in a tired way.
‘I guess it’s breakfast time anyway,’ she said. ‘Who wants to help me make scrambled eggs?’
‘Scrambled eggs?’ shouted Jack. ‘Yippee. I forgot it was Sunday.’
‘Of course, it’s Sunday,’ said Sienna, although she had momentarily forgotten in the kerfuffle with her brothers. ‘I love scrambled eggs and Sundays,’ she said as she followed Mum and her brothers out of the bedroom.
Sienna and Jack followed Mum and Theo downstairs. The stairs were quite steep, and Sienna had to keep an eye on Jack. He was always up for an adventure and seemed to think he was indestructible. One time he had fallen off while trying to slide down the bannister, and Mrs Smith, the next–door neighbour, had come to sit with Sienna and Theo while Mum had taken Jack to hospital. Even now, he was trying to jump down the stairs. Sienna pulled the back of his pyjamas to slow him down.
‘Oi!’ Jack shouted, wriggling free.
‘Be careful,’ hissed Sienna, wondering how he had managed to get to this age without actually breaking any bones.
The boys ran into the front room, and Sienna followed Mum into the kitchen. They fell into the familiar rhythm of making breakfast together. Mum got the eggs out of the fridge, while Sienna found four plates and mugs. They didn’t need to talk, they just worked together as a team. Sienna thought Sundays were great. No one had to go to school or work or nursery. They had time to just be together. They usually went to church, then came home and played games together, although sometimes Mum was just too tired, and fell asleep on the sofa after lunch. After tea, they would sit and watch a film together and share some popcorn, snuggled on the sofa. Sundays were the best!
Sienna pulled the ketchup out of the cupboard and grabbed the bread for toast. Hang on! Something’s wrong! She couldn’t think what it was, but she just felt something wasn’t right. She took a deep breath and tried to find out where that feeling came from. It was too quiet – that was it. What were those boys up to? Sienna couldn’t hear the TV or sounds of wrestling. She quickly moved towards the door. Why were the boys so quiet? Sienna noticed that Mum was following her out of the kitchen.
They peered into the front room together. Theo was sat in the corner doing a jigsaw, and Jack had pulled out his favourite activity book. Mum and Sienna looked at each other and laughed. They had thought the boys were getting into mischief, but, no. They were just doing a quiet activity for once.
When the eggs were ready, Mum called the boys. They all sat around the little table in the kitchen and talked about their plans for the day.
‘Will you come to Kids’ Church with us today, Mum?’ asked Jack.
‘Yes, Mum, come to Kids’ Church!’ agreed Theo. Sienna could tell that Theo thought this was the best idea ever.
Mum laughed. ‘No, you boys are big enough to go without me. Besides, Alison will be there!’
‘Alison!’ shouted the boys, bouncing up and down in their seats and clapping. Alison was the boys’ favourite teacher at Kids’ Church. Sienna smiled. She really liked Alison too.
Alison was more than just a person at church; she was a really good friend to Mum and Sienna. They often tried to meet up at the weekend, if they weren’t too busy. Sometimes, if Mum had to work on Saturday, Alison would let Sienna and her brothers hang out at her house, even though it was a bit messy and Alison was always in her pyjamas when they turned up.
Sienna remembered the first time she had met Alison. They had just moved into their new house and didn’t know anyone. Sienna hadn’t wanted to move, but after Dad left, Mum said they needed a new start. Sienna wanted to stay in the old house, so their dad would know where to find them if he came looking for them, but Mum said he wouldn’t come back and that she was too little to understand. Sienna hated it when people said she was too young. She had been really angry with Mum, and then, to make things even worse, Mum had announced that they would start going to church. They had never been to church before, although Sienna had always known that Mum believed in God. They would sometimes pray together, but they didn’t go to church. They weren’t that kind of family.
Sienna thought back to that first Sunday. Mum was trying to juggle the baby and a lively four-year-old Jack. Sienna trailed along behind, slowly and grumpily, hoping Mum would change her mind. They walked up to the big church not far from their house. That’s when they met Alison. She was standing at the door, smiling and saying hello to people. She looked quite friendly, and younger than Sienna had expected people at church to look.
Alison offered to take Jack and Sienna to Kids’ Church. They didn’t know what Kids’ Church was, but it turned out to be really fun. There were other children there, and there were songs and a story about Jesus. Usually there was a craft time too, which Sienna really enjoyed. There were several people who helped out, but she liked it best when Alison was there, because she never treated Sienna like a little kid. The things Sienna had learned at Kids’ Church had really helped her not to be angry with her mum any more. She still felt sad sometimes, and missed her dad, but she was getting on better with Mum now.
Alison had recently asked Sienna and her friend, Mia, if they would help out with the younger children at Kids’ Church, encouraging the little ones to listen to the stories, helping with crafts if they couldn’t do it themselves. Mia had been really kind to Sienna when she’d first come to church; now she was Sienna’s best friend, even though she was only ten and went to a different school. Alison asked them to help her pray with the others at times. Sienna enjoyed helping out, although sometimes her brothers didn’t pay attention to her like they should.
Some Questions for You
As you’ve read the book, you might be asking questions. So here’s an opportunity for you to think a little bit more about the story.
At the start of the book we meet Sienna, her little brothers and their mum. Are you in a family like Sienna’s? Or is it different?
We also find out that Sienna loves Sundays. Do you love Sundays? Why/why not?
Sienna and her brothers go to Kids’ Church where they have a favourite teacher – Alison! Do you have a favourite teacher or leader at church or at school? Why are they your favourite?
Sienna was quite angry when her dad left three years before and she didn’t want to go to church when her mum suggested it. She thought ‘they weren’t that kind of family’. Do you think there is a certain type of family that goes to church? Are you that ‘type’? Would you want to go to a church like Sienna’s?
If your family does go to church, how could you be friendly to a new family coming in, like Sienna’s family?