The Prayers Of Agnes Sparrow

Joyce Magnin

Joyce Magnin is the author of The Prayers Of Agnes Sparrow, short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children. Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship. She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups. She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet who can’t seem to keep a name. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania. You can also visit her blog at:

Sometimes It’s Okay To Be A Victim

No one really knows the origin of April Fool’s day. My eleven-year-old son loves this day of pranks and hoaxes. Nobody is safe from his practical jokes. I move through the house with trepidation, carefully opening cabinets for fear a severed hand will reach out and grab me. The peanut butter is likely to be infested with tiny plastic spiders.

I look before I sit ever since the year he placed a circular piece of paper on a kitchen chair (the one I always sit on) and painted a veneer of glue on the paper. I walked around the house and even went to the bank with a large target on my butt. And if you visit me on this day, be very careful at the kitchen sink.

He thinks it’s hysterical to wrap a rubber band around the spray nozzle. So when you turn on the water, the sprayer sprays you in the face! Last year I filled the kettle and set it to boil. When the whistle sounded, I innocently poured the boiling water into my tea cup. Bright neon purple water! Adam had put food coloring into the kettle the night before. I’m so proud. The boy is obviously a genius.

Here’s a good one (be sure to pull this on a coworker). Imagine my surprise when I sat down at my desk, prepared for a good day of writing, only to discover that my mouse had stopped mousing. I moved it back and forth, no cursor. I tapped it lightly on the mouse pad. Still no sign of life. I was starting to get worried until I turned it over and found a small Post-it note stuck over the little sensor light thingy. The note read: I LOVE YOU, MOM.

Adam is, of course, not alone in his love for pranks. Here’s a few that took national attention in the news.

The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
BBC Panorama broadcast a news story about Swiss farmers. It seems that because of exceptional growing conditions, this year’s spaghetti crop was turning out to be one of the most abundant. The program included video of enthusiastic pickers harvesting strands of spaghetti from the trees. Quite a number of the viewing audience called the BBC, seeking information about how to get their own spaghetti trees. To each request, the BBC replied, “Place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”

The Taco Liberty Bell
The Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia, where the bell was housed, to express their anger. Their nerves were calmed only when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.

San Serriffe
The British newspaper The Guardian ran a feature on “San Serriffe, a small republic . . . of several semicolon-shaped islands located in the Indian Ocean.” It described in detail the two main islands Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse, as well as the capital city, Bodoni. Included was information about its leader, General Pica. Though a few readers spotted the printer terms, many others called the newspaper, wanting more information. “The success of this hoax is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April Foolery that gripped the British tabloids in subsequent decades.”

The Case of the Interfering Brassieres
“The Daily Mail reported that a local manufacturer had sold 10,000 ‘rogue bras.’” Fitted with a support wire made from the same copper wired used in fire alarms, the bras created static electricity when they “came into contact with nylon and body heat.” Though the wearers suffered no harm, the static

electricity interfered with television and radio broadcasts. “The chief engineer of British Telecom, upon reading the article, immediately ordered that all his female laboratory employees disclose what type of bra they were wearing.”

So go on, have fun. Pull a prank. We could all use a good joke these days.

As a side note, I recently was asked to teach at a writer’s conference. I arrived at the venue, a large church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The parking lot was dotted with a few cars, and I noticed six nice empty handicap parking spaces right in front of the church. I actually said to my friend next to me, “I think I’ll just park here. How many disabled writers will come to this event?” I am so ashamed. Please do not send me letters berating me for my insensitivity. I learned my lesson, and here’s how.

A couple of hours later I was in dire need of a good cup of coffee. Hey, why is it impossible to get good coffee at writer’s conferences? Anyhoo, I asked this nice woman Joan, who was in a wheelchair, if she knew where I could get coffee. She proceeded to give me directions, stopped, and said, “I’ll just drive you.” I will admit that I had a moment of trepidation, having never ridden in a specially designed van like Joan’s. But I went along. Her van was parked several hundred yards away from the church—not in a handicap space. My heart sank. I said nothing but let her drive me to the coffee place. We arrived back at the church, she dropped me at the front door. As I turned to thank her, I saw my car parked in the handicap space. Oh, the shame. “I am so sorry,” I said. “That’s my car in the handicap space.” She smiled. I said, “I will never, ever assume that no one will need a handicap space again.” Who is the fool now?

She thanked me for having this insight. Sheesh. I felt awful. But Joan and Faith, her beautiful helper dog, are now good friends. And that’s no joke.

Reprinted stories from


The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow has been selected as one of the top five Christian Inspirational titles of 2009 by Library Journal.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow