by Chris Eldin
“Here you go.” Toby plops a glob of grape jelly next to the waffle crumbs. The sticky spoon clangs around the inside of the jar.
Nicky licks the lid, then wipes his hands on his t-shirt. “But what if anyone sees?” He jumps off his chair, putting one hand over his butt and one hand over his front. “There’s too much to cover.”
“You wrap a towel around yourself while you’re getting dressed.” Toby clears the plates. “It ain’t hard, but accidents happen.”
Nicky’s eyes widen. Gym was going to be scary.
“And if anything happens, you gotta choose real fast which part you want to cover.” Toby puts both hands over his front.
“What else about being a fourth-grader?” Nicky’s eyes drip with uncertainty.
Toby pours two glasses of grape juice. “When Miss Simms asks kids to write down all the dirty words they know, it’s a trick. She says she puts them in the trash can. With the other trash talk. But she matches up your handwriting with your homework.”
“Then what happens?”
“You get put on file.”
Nicky’s bottom lip quivers. “File?”
“It’s where teachers trade secrets. And they’re allowed to make up stuff.” Toby makes a five inch space with his thumb and forefinger. “Mine’s this thick.”
Nicky gulps the last sip of grape juice. “I don’t want a file!”
“It’s the only way to get noticed.”
“What about doing good stuff?” Nicky glances at his smiley chart on the refrigerator.
“Doesn’t have the same effect.”