Author's Note: Since the BOM didn't give any specifics, the names and ages of Ishmael's family in this story are figments of my imagination. The people themselves are real though. NEVER FORGET IT!

My imagined list of Ishmael's children is (youngest to oldest): Julin, 14; Esher, 15; Cloa, 17; Amli, 18; Lorel, 19; Ruala, 20; and Gerim, 22.

XIXIX

I wove through the crowds, trying to hear the speech over the clamoring of the skeptical people. I'd heard rumors about Lehi being mad, but I didn't agree. Especially since I met Sam—if Lehi was Sam's father, he couldn't be mad. But this speech would prove if he was or wasn't.

"Esher, what are you doing here?" someone asked.

I turned. It was Ruala.

"I want to listen to him," I said. "I want to know if he's really mad."

"He is!" Ruala said. "He's saying that Jerusalem will be destroyed. Can you believe him?"

I strained my ears to listen. It was no use. "How can we stop that from happening?"

"Oh, great," Ruala said, rubbing her temples like she had a headache. "Has Sam been talking to you?"

"We have to all repent, right?" I asked. "We have to renounce our wicked doings and turn to the Lord."
"No!" Ruala said. "We have to get crazy people like him out of our city!"

"But he's not crazy!" I protested. "His sayings are perfectly valid."

"Right," Ruala said, rolling her eyes. "Like Jerusalem could actually be destroyed."

"No city can last forever," I said. "Maybe he's right."

"He's not right!" Ruala insisted. "He's a crazy old man and he's messing with your brain!"

"He is not!" I protested.

"He is too!" Ruala said back.

"Is not!"

"Is too!"

"Is not!"

"Is too!"

"Is not!"

I tried to push Ruala, but she was older and stronger than me. She grabbed my shoulders.

"Go home," she said. "Father will be waiting for you."

I was defeated. I turned and started walking home, but not before shouting "He's not crazy!" over my shoulder. Ruala just rolled her eyes.

When I got home, Mother was mixing some rice and meat.

"What were you doing out there?" Mother asked.

"I wanted to listen to Lehi," I said.

Mother smiled and shook her head. "That man is messing with people's minds. Take no heed of him."

"But we need to repent," I said. "Otherwise Jerusalem will be destroyed."

"Oh, come now," Mother said. "That's just silly. Jerusalem can't be destroyed."

"It can with the power of God," I said. "If He gets angry."

"And all his talk of—what does he call it?—the Messiah. It's just nonsense," Mother said.

"It is not!" I protested. "You are just like Ruala!"

"Well, that's understandable, seeing how she's my daughter," Mother said.

I groaned. "Well, I think he's right."

Mother turned to me and studied my face.

"You've been talking with Sam, haven't you?"

I smiled sheepishly. "Is that a bad thing?"

Mother scooped up some rice and tasted it. She set the spoon back down. "Julin and Cloa are in the back with the laundry. Go help them."

I sighed and started to walk out the back door when Gerim walked in the front.

"You don't think Lehi's crazy, do you?" I asked Gerim.

He shrugged. "Well, his sayings aren't exactly valid. And Laman doesn't believe him, and Lehi's his father."

"Laman's a jerk."

"Says who?"

"It doesn't matter."

"I bet it's Sam."

"So?"

"So? So, you're totally in love with Sam!"

"I am not!"

"Yes you are!"

Mother put down the spoon. "Esher, go help Julin and Cloa with the laundry! And Gerim, don't tease your sister."

I groaned and headed out the back door. "Nobody understands me!"

True to Mother's words, Julin and Cloa were washing the clothes in the back and asked for my help as I walked by, but I simply stormed past them to the large, gnarled tree a ways away from my home, where I sometimes sat, just to think.

I climbed up my trees thick, sturdy branches to the highest point I had ever gotten. It wasn't the top of the tree, but I could never find a way to ascend higher. Besides, the taller branches weren't nearly as comfortable as the branch I always sat on.

I assumed.

"Knock, knock," said a voice above me.

I looked up. Sam sat nonchalantly on a branch about three feet higher than mine.

"How did you get up there?" I asked.

"I climbed. Same as you."

"I've never found a way to get higher than this branch."

"Maybe you're not looking hard enough." Sam lowered himself down onto my branch. "See over there? There's a branch that juts out that I grabbed onto, and a knot in the wood right there I can use for my foot."

I looked where he was pointing.
"That little bump? I can't even get a secure toe grip on that!" I protested. "How can you get your giant foot on that?"

"My feet aren't that big!"

"Bigger than mine."

Sam took off his sandal and placed it against mine. Sure enough, his was at least twice the size of mine. I laughed.

A rock hitting the tree a little bit below me drew my attention. I looked down and saw one of Sam's brothers, a bunch of pebbles and small stones in his hand.

"Nephi!" Sam called down. "How goes it, little brother?"

"Father needs us home," Nephi hollered up the tree. "He says he has received a vision from God!"

"Better go," Sam said, beginning to climb down the tree. "Until we meet again, my friend!"

I waved at Sam and his brother as they headed towards their house. Once they were out of sight, I leaned back against my tree, thinking. Daily conflicts aside, everything was near perfect.

But I had no knowledge of the drastic turn my life was about to take.