The Girl Scout
Melanie Page

I have been a Girl Scout of America for six years. We always meet in the gym of our elementary school, after class gets out. The leader changes every few years, depending on whose mom is available and committed to our goals. We have laws and pledges about these goals. One of the goals is to help me commit to serving the needs of others, including God. The other, the pledge, is about being a caring person who loves the planet and other people in her neighborhood. I have earned lots of badges: Local Lore, Women Today, Pet Care, First Aid, Family Living Skills, Caring for Children, Art to Wear, Frost Fun, Ms. Fix It, Theater, Weather Watch, Exploring Healthy Eating, Healthy Relationships, and My Self-Esteem.

Today’s meeting is on February 14th, Valentine’s Day. The scout leader brings heart shaped cakes that she has already baked at her house. Every girl gets one little cake and a second even smaller cake that goes on top of that to decorate. We decorate them on paper plates. I set my cakes together and start painting the top with pink frosting. I’m excited that when I get home I will get to share the cake with my dad. He picks me up after the meetings, right after he gets out of work.

After I frost the top, I try the sides, but they are more difficult because the little cake keeps moving around on top of the big cake, and I can’t hold the top anymore because I’ve already frosted it. The girl next to me, Sarah, puts her finger right in my frosting, right on top of the cake and smiles like she is helping. We are only friends at Girl Scouts. I finish the sides; Sarah waits, then removes her finger and licks it. She smiles at me, and I see that she’s missing a tooth just a little left of her front teeth.

I get my Girl Scout books out of my bag, I flip through the pages to see if there is anything about baking or cake decoration in them. One of the books is called Badges and Signs and tells me all the stuff I have to do to earn my badges, which I put in a tin can in my room until my mom can sew them on my vest. It is my great hope that I will earn a badge that requires learning to sew, so I can put that badge and all the others on my green vest. The other book is the handbook, and it has lots of things about growing up. Neither of the books has anything about cake decoration, so I put M&Ms all across the top, like students in a row. I try to pick out the red M&Ms. So does everyone else. I imagine the M&Ms are snow balls packed together to make a fort. Winter will be ending soon.

It is 5pm and our meeting is over. We look at each other’s cakes and I think mine is pretty good. Some of the other girls just used the sprinkles, which seems kind of lazy. We sing the “Day is Done” song and fold the flag (half, half, triangles all the way to the end, tuck in the flap) and pack up our jackets, boots, backpacks, and cakes and head outside where all the moms and dads pull up their cars, so we don’t have to walk through the snowy parking lot. Girl after girl gets into her parent’s car, and we wave bye. Sarah and I won’t talk to each other again until next week’s meeting, but I think about inviting her over for my birthday slumber party. I’ll have to tell her what my other friends are like, so she can be more like them. It’s always weird when different types of friends stay over at your house; someone gets upset and starts crying and calls their mom in the middle of the night to come pick them up.

Soon, all the girls are gone except me and the scout leader. Tapping her foot, she glares at me. This happens sometimes; my dad forgets to pick me up. He has lots of other stuff on his mind, though. At 5:20 I see his red truck coming. It seems like he’s going fast. I feel better knowing that he feels bad about forgetting me again, so he’s trying to hurry. He pulls into the driveway of the school, and I jump in without waving goodbye to the leader.

Dad looks over at my cake. This is when he starts laughing. He has a paper bag, and I tell him I’m thirsty, but he won’t share. He beeps the horn and drives like he’s someone pretending to drive. Now, he’s laughing so hard and he can’t quit, so I start laughing, too. Looking over, he pokes at the M&Ms and makes a face saying “Ooooooh, Betty Crocker.”

When we get home, I put the cake in the deep freeze in the garage. The lid is hard to open because it has strong magnets keeping it shut, and little top cake falls off. I forgot to glue the little cake to the big cake with frosting like the scout leader said.

Melanie Page is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Notre Dame. Her fiction has been published in over a dozen magazines, and she enjoys writing book reviews solicited from magazines such as The American Book Review and The Notre Dame Review. She teaches literature at Saint Mary’s College in Indiana.