Eliza Maxwell leaped off the bus and dashed to her house. “I’m home!” she announced, slamming the door behind her and tossing her backpack onto a window-seat.
Eliza’s older brother, Jacob, stepped into the room, his hands greasy. Jacob was studying to be a car mechanic, and practiced on the family van whenever he could. “Hey, Liz!” he called.
Eliza’s younger brother, Sammie, and the family dog, Squash, bounded in together—Squash’s nails clicking on the tile floor. “Hey Liz!” yelled Sammie. Squash barked excitedly. Eliza leaned down to pet him.
“We’re having a class party!” She took off her shoes and flopped down at the kitchen table. “My teacher says we all have to bring something to do or eat, but I can’t think of anything to bring!”
Jacob shrugged. “Well, you could bake those strawberry cupcakes Mom made for your birthday last year.”
Eliza gasped. “That’s perfect! Will you help me?”
Jacob laughed. “I’m not a baker. Ask Mom when she comes home.”
Eliza could hardly wait for her mom to get home. As soon as she walked in, Eliza pounced. “Mom! Will you help me make cupcakes for my class party? It’s tomorrow!”
Eliza’s mother laughed. “Sure, how about right now?”
They worked for a very long time. Eliza’s mother helped her bake the cakes, then they iced each one with frosting and sprinkled them with rainbow sprinkles to make them look like they had confetti all over them.
Eliza and her mother stepped back to look at their handiwork. “They’re great!” cried Eliza. She hugged her mother.
“Right you are Liz! It was hard to make them, but the real trick will be to keep anyone from eating them before your party! They look so good!” They laughed.
“I can’t wait for all the kids in my class to eat them!” Eliza whispered to herself as she headed off to bed.
The next morning, Eliza saw that the sky was sunny out her window, and the mud had almost dried up! It was perfect weather for a party! She looked at her alarm clock. She had woken up early but there was no use going back to bed.
When she went downstairs, she headed into the kitchen expecting to see all her cupcakes neatly lined in the shoebox. Instead she saw the shoebox overturned on the floor, her cupcakes were all smashed, and there was icing splattered everywhere.
Eliza gasped, and then stared, hardly daring to believe what she had worked so hard on was now a pile of mush on the floor. “I’ve got to figure out who did this!” she said to herself.
She bent down to examine the cupcakes. It looked like Squash had messed with the crime scene. There were dog prints everywhere, and icing was smeared in places where he had licked it up. There was also a clear footprint, right in the middle of the icing.
The first step, Eliza realized, was going to be to figure out which Maxwell that footprint belonged to. She headed to the shoe rack by the Maxwell’s front door, and saw Jacob pulling his shoes on.
Jacob looked up, stunned. “Didn’t realize you were getting up this early.”
“Somebody made my cupcakes fall,” Eliza moaned.
“Bad luck Liz. Well, better get going!” Jacob stood and seemed to rush out the door.
Eliza took one of each of her family member’s shoes. She took them back to the crime scene and lined them up with the footprint. The footprint was too big to be Sammie’s shoe, and it couldn’t have been Eliza. So that meant it had to have been her mother, but she also hadn’t examined Jacob’s shoes.
Eliza sighed. She put the shoes back on the rack and went to the board game closet to find something for her class to play. She picked out one of her favorites.
She was just stuffing it into her bag when she noticed something on the cupcake box, a black smudge. Jacob had done it! Why hadn’t he confessed?
The school bus drove up, and Eliza sighed and trudged on.
All day Eliza moped, but right before the party was about to start, Jacob burst into the classroom.
“Eliza! I’m really sorry! Those cupcakes looked so good, I was only going to take one, but the whole box fell over! So I brought these for the class.” He held out a box of strawberry cupcakes that looked just like the ones Eliza and her mom had made.
“Why didn’t you apologize?” asked Eliza.
Jacob looked at his dirty tennis shoes. “I should have, I know, but I was embarrassed because you worked so hard on those cupcakes. I’m sorry.”
Eliza gave him a big hug. “I forgive you! But next time, just tell me.”
Everyone loved the cupcakes, especially Eliza and Jacob! THE END
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