The alarm screeched and Brenden slowly opened his eyes. He looked at the alarm and it was 6:30 AM. He so did not want to get up. He hit the mute button, pulled the blanket over his head and tried to go back to sleep. He could hear noises from downstairs and knew any minute his annoying younger sister was going to come upstairs and bang on his bedroom door.

He was glad he had locked the door last night.  She was not getting in his room again. They did not care that he had a ‘Do Not Enter’ sign on his door. They did not care that he had a ‘No Girls Allowed’ sign on his door. No one cared what he wanted; they all did whatever they wanted and expected him to live by their rules.

Brenden’s parents are still terribly upset with him; he was grounded and could not play his video games until they saw an improvement in his next school report card. Which reminded him, it was supposed to be in the mail today. He knew he will be so dead if he cannot not get that report card before they did. If he could change the scores by writing over the grades with black ink, and then photocopy a new version of the card on his computer, he could trick his parents into thinking he was a model student now.

Brenden lay in his bed figuring out his plan; he would pretend to go to school and then circle back to the house. He would then call the school office and pretend to be his older brother Rodney, and tell them he was sick and would be staying home. That way his parents would not find out he had ditched school, as the school would not call to report him absent.

Brenden thought about what specifically he was going to say. He remembered what Rodney had said one time when called the office for his brother last year, and described the symptoms he was suffering; a harsh cough and a high fever. But then Brenden really had been sick. Brenden had never lied about being sick before, but lately he’d been doing a lot of things he’d never done before. Besides, this was all his parents fault. If they hadn’t grounded him, he’d have no reason to stay home to get the report card.

Middle school was totally different than Elementary School – the tests were much harder and the amount of homework was larger. Just because Brenden had screwed up a few times and made too many errors in his tests, his parents had totally flipped out on him. They would not even listen to him when he tried to defend himself and explain it was not his fault the teachers hated him. They gave him this huge workload of homework and if he did all of the homework, he’d no time to play his online games. Especially League of Legendaries, his favorite game. He needed to play regularly in order to keep his match rankings up, or he’d slip and lose out on his chance to one day join a top team. Worst of all, Brenden knew his brother Rodney was much smarter than he was; many of his teachers had been Rodney’s teachers and they expected him to be as capable as Rodney was. They did not understand that he was not Rodney!

Rodney was seventeen now and in his first year of Junior College. He was an Honor Roll Student and had been all through Middle School and High School, but to do that Rodney did not have a life outside of school and studying. Brenden did; he was social and active with his friends. He was not some nerd like Rodney!

Brenden heard the footsteps coming up the stairs. Any minute now Madison was going to bang on his door. He listened to the footsteps walking down the hall, until they stopped. He knew she had her ear against the door. She was listening to make sure he wasn’t playing a video game or talking to someone online.

Brenden wanted to scream at her to go away, but he lay still. Didn’t she remember their parents took all the games and the computer away a few days ago? Madison was the real reason he was in so much trouble. Her and a couple of her little friends had gone in his room when he was visiting a friend’s house. They had found the tests he had failed and that his parents were supposed to sign to return to the teacher. Madison of course had taken them right down to their dad for him to see. At the least, these tests weren’t signed yet; Brenden had been forging his dads signature and turning them in at school. He hadn’t got around to signing these ones so that at least wasn’t discovered.

A loud knock came at the door. “Brenden, mom told me to come up here and make sure you are awake,” said Madison. “She said to tell you breakfast is almost ready.”

“Okay, you can tell mom, I am not up yet,” said Brenden. “You can also tell her I want Coco Rocks cereal for breakfast!”

That would set her off and Brenden held his breath waiting. His parents had decided that Brenden was eating the wrong types of food. They really thought that all the food he loved – the sugary, sweet kind — was causing him to act out and one of the reasons he was doing poorly in school. So Madison and him were now on a healthy food for children diet his mother had read about on some mommy blog.

“Brenden! You know we cannot have anything like that to eat any more,” said Madison as she rattled the door knob.

“You are not allowed in my room,” said Brenden. “Read the sign, Dumb Dumb Brains!”

“I am telling mom! You are the reason we cannot have Coco Rocks and I am not a girl! I am your sister.”

Brenden laughed out loud. “News flash, a sister is a girl. Mom and dad think I need help for being dumb, but really Madison you’re the one who is stupid. You are how old, oh yea eight isn’t it? And you don’t even know you’re a girl?”

That got Madison shrieking from the other side of the door. Brenden smiled. Mission accomplished.

“Mom!” Madison shrieked. “Brenden said he is not up yet and he wants Coco Rocks for breakfast! He also has the door locked!”

Brenden was laughing until he heard his mother’s voice and it was right outside the door. She whispered for Madison to be quiet, and then the door knob jiggled.

Brenden was already heading for the door. He was trying to unlock it before his mother tried it. No such luck.

“Brenden open the door now! Your father and I have told you not to lock this door. If something happened, we could not get to you in time. Apologize to your sister and get ready for school.”

“Mom, she started it and she is not allowed in my room!”

“Brenden do as your mother said now!” His father appeared behind them in the hall way.

“Sorry, Madison,” said Brenden as turned to walk back into his bedroom.

“Brenden,” his dad was in the doorway. “Get ready for school. I will drop you off this morning after you eat a good breakfast.

“Okay, Dad.”


Brenden rode in silence all the way to school. He looked out the window and acted like he did not hear his father lecturing him. Especially when his dad was talking about tutors and study hall. Why didn’t his father get it? Brenden was not his brother. He had other things to do. Anyway, what was the point in even trying to do well in school when his teachers hated him?

Brenden got out of the car and went into the school, not even saying goodbye to his father. He even went to his locker, where he threw his back pack and the sack lunch his mother had made for him in it. The lunch would be there tomorrow. Maybe he could find someone that wanted to trade. He really doubted it. The power bars and granola, even the peanut butter on whole wheat bread tasted like card board. The worst was the vegetable sticks and plain yogurt. He was not a rabbit and he was not going to eat rabbit food.

Brenden was twelve years old, so he was practically grown up. At least he felt he was old enough to decide what he wanted to eat. He was thinking about this as he circled around through the hallways of the school cautiously, making sure none of his teachers spotted him. He was glad Madison was only eight. She was still in elementary school. That was all he needed, for her to go to the same school as him. She was like Rodney. School was so easy for them.

Brenden made it through the school doors without any issue. Although he was the only kid walking out of the school, no one stopped him. They didn’t even seem to acknowledge him. It was easy to skip class. As per his plan, Brenden took an unusual route home that required him to circle through the housing tract. This was to be sure he would not run into his parents. It would add an extra hour to his walk home, but it would be the safer path. As he walked, Brenden kept a close eye on the car traffic watching for his parents’ cars, just in case they happened to drive by. As he was paying close attention to everything around him, it was then he noticed the large house he was walking by had a huge garage in the front – and the garage door was wide open!

Brenden slowed down as he passed by. There was a refrigerator and shelves of what looked like packaged food against the back wall.

Brenden had an idea. He turned and walked into the open garage. He went up to the closed door that led into the house and knocked loudly. Thinking up a story in case someone answered the door – that he just wanted to let them know the door was wide open – he eyed the shelves. There were bags of cookies, chips, sugary cereals and a lot more. A few minutes went by with Brenden standing there in the garage and still no one answered the door. So he grabbed an empty cardboard box laying on the ground, loaded it with as much as he could carry and then bolted out the garage door. He ran as fast as he could to the end of the block, looked back to see no one was around, and then he hurried home as fast as he could while carrying the box of food. Using the spare key his parents kept in a potted plant in the backyard, he went directly to his room and stuffed the box in his closet.

The next thing that needed to be done was to call the attendance office at his school. He did this and it worked perfectly. The office worker remembered his brother of course, so there were a few awkward minutes while Brenden bluffed his way through remembering her.

Now that the phone call was over, now all Brenden had to do was wait for the mail and be sure to meet Madison’s bus at 4 PM.

‘This will be a piece of cake,’ thought Brenden as he grabbed a bag of barbeque chips out of the box in his closet.

Brenden sat on his bed and ate the whole bag. It was delicious. He was thinking about sneaking into his parent’s room and getting his computer and head phones back for a few hours when he heard a car. It sounded like his mother’s car.

He ran to the window and peaked out. Sure enough, his mother was in the driveway and already heading for the front door. Brenden could not remember if he had locked it. He heard the key in the door and sighed with relief. Then he realized the bedroom door was open. He walked across his bedroom slowly and as quietly as he could, then shut the door and locked it. He then hid in the closet trying to decide what to do.

Brenden then heard footsteps on the stairs and held his breath. She could not possibly know he was there. Maybe someone had seen him walking home and called her. He listened to the footsteps pass his door and go off towards his parents’ room. Then there were a few sounds from their room, followed by more footsteps.

Brenden was still holding his breath when he heard the front door open and close and the car start. ‘Wow! That was close,’ Brenden thought! He looked back out the window, she was gone. Then he dug out a box of Coco puffs opened them and ate them dry. The only milk in the house was soy milk. Silk something and it tasted like barf smelled!

A little while later he heard the mail man. He ran down stairs and waited for the mail to be put through the slot. Brenden grabbed the mail before it hit the ground. He quickly sorted through it. There was Madison’s report card. Miss perfect was probably all A’s. Then he saw the envelope he was looking for. Throwing the mail on the stand by the door he ran upstairs.

He spent the rest of the afternoon online playing games with people out there in the real world. He met Madison’s bus at 4pm. And then walked the pain in the neck home. “Brenden where is your backpack?”

“At home, now hurry up!”

“You already went home? Why?”

“Because I felt like it! Now will you be quiet and come on.”

That night when they were eating dinner his Mother had Madison’s report card showing the rest of the family how well she was doing. Rodney looked over at Brenden and smiled at him. Brenden glared back.

“How did you do this quarter” Rodney asked his brother.

“I don’t know and I don’t care!”

“Loose the attitude at this table now!” their father gave Brenden a stern look. Brenden shrank in his chair. Turning to their mother he asked, “Where is Brenden’s report card?”

“I have no idea; it should have come today. Maybe it is just late. It will probably be here tomorrow.”