Michael was on his way home from work when he got a call on his cell phone. “Hello, this is Michael. How can I help you?” – he answered.
“Hello, sir. This is Mrs. Watson from the high school. I called to see how Deborah was doing. Is she all right?” – she asked him.
“My daughter was fine when she left for school today. Did something happen?” – he asked, suddenly worried if Deborah was okay.
“Sir, Deborah hasn’t been to school all this week. It’s Thursday and she still hasn’t come in. I was wondering if she was sick,” Mrs. Watson said.
Michael was stunned, because he had breakfast with Deborah every day before he left for work. He had even asked her how school was going and she always replied that it was going well.
Michael hurried home to talk to his daughter. He went into her bedroom, but found that she wasn’t home yet.
Looking for possible clues as to why she was skipping school, Michael searched her room. Looking under the bed, he was surprised to find her favourite backpack there, and in it, a hidden compartment filled with rolled-up wads of cash in various denominations.
“What is she doing?” – he thought to himself, nervous about the kind of trouble his daughter was getting herself into.
All the worst-case scenarios were keeping Michael busy as he waited for Deborah to come home. When she returned, Michael was waiting for her on the porch. “Where have you been?” – he asked her.
“Sorry, Dad,” Deborah replied. “I got stuck in the library at school,” she lied.
At this point Michael became impatient and demanded answers from her. It made him angry that she was lying to him, but he knew that if he pressed her too hard, she would continue to lie to him. Instead, he decided to follow up with her the next day.
As they ate breakfast together, Michael pretended to believe that Deborah went to school as usual. Before she left, he told her “have a good day.”
Michael followed a few feet behind Deborah as she began to walk. Instead of turning left to go to school, she turned right to the main road.
There she began to settle into the street, placing her cap on the floor and taking her violin out of its case.
“Why is she playing the violin?” asked Michael, talking to himself. Before he could approach her, two police officers appeared outside and approached Deborah.
“Do you have a performer’s license?” – The policemen asked her. Deborah’s eyes widened and she grabbed her things from the ground before running away in fear.
As she ran, she bumped into her father’s chest. When Deborah looked up, there was both relief and fear in her eyes. “Daddy!” – she screamed, hugging him tightly.
“Deborah,” he comforted her, and as soon as she calmed down, he asked, “what were you doing outside? Why are you playing your violin?”
Deborah apologized to her father for lying and for not going to school. “I’m just trying to help, Dad,” she began. “My friends and I were raising money for one of our classmates who needs a spinal surgery,” she finally said.
“So you and your classmates missed school because of this?” asked her Michael. “Why didn’t you just do it after school?”
“Spinal surgery is expensive, Dad. We need all the time we can get to earn it. The sooner we raise the money, the sooner we can go back to school,” Deborah explained.
Michael shook his head. “You need to go back to school, honey. There are other ways to raise money for your friend,” he told his daughter sternly. Before the girl could object, Michael was headed somewhere.
Deborah watched as her father approached the police officers who had detained her for street dealing. “Daddy, what are you doing?” – she asked, trying to catch up with him.
“Don’t fine the kids, officers,” Michael said. “They were just trying to raise money for a friend who’s about to have major surgery,” he explained. “I’m Michael, this girl’s father,” he said, pointing to Deborah, who was hiding behind his back.
The officers decided to let the children go with a warning. Michael gave his business card to one of the police officers and said he would contact them.
When Michael and Deborah returned home, he asked her to return to school the following Monday. “Please, Deborah. Your teachers may give you an unsatisfactory grade if you continue to miss classes. I’ll take you to school myself next week, okay?” – he told her.
Deborah nodded her head, knowing that her father only wished her well.
The next week, when Deborah and her classmates were in first period, Michael and the same two police officers who had confronted her entered the classroom. Along with her teacher, they told her that they had planned a fundraising concert at school for their classmate who needed surgery.
“The fundraising concert will take place this Saturday and Sunday,” their teacher announced. “Tickets will be sold for forty dollars apiece, and all of you will be responsible for the performances. Do you agree?” – she asked the class.
The class readily replied that they intended to make the concert a success. They rehearsed during recess and promised to sell at least fifteen tickets each. They also asked for help from other classes to sell even more tickets.
By Friday, the class had sold enough tickets to fill the entire auditorium, with some choosing to donate not only forty dollars but more. In all, they successfully raised $21,000, enough to cover the cost of their classmate’s surgery.
When the class handed the money to their classmate’s parents, they told them that he had been ready for surgery for weeks, and all they prayed for was the money to pay for it since the tests had already been done.
“I can’t thank you enough,” his mother cried. “You are all just heaven. Thanks to you, my son will be healthy again. Thank you so much,” she said as she hugged each of the students who came to give money.
On the day of surgery, Michael had to pick up his daughter from the hospital on his way home from work. As she walked out of the building, she had a wide smile on her face. “Our classmate had surgery, Daddy! He’s going to be fine soon!”
“That’s great news!” – he said, opening the car door for her.
When Deborah got in the car, the first thing she did was apologize. “I’m sorry I bothered you, Daddy. I was only doing what I thought was right,” she explained.
Michael nodded and kissed her forehead. “Don’t worry about it, Deborah. You’re a great friend, and I’m very proud of you for that.”