The Secret is in the Telling

The Secret is in the Telling

A Story by Kate

The trials and tribulations of a preschooler's conscious


I never much liked cereal. Well, not as a food, at least. Cheerios were life rafts and race car wheels, Chex were ship-wrecked boats. Frosted Flakes were parachutes from sky-divers who had gone on rescue missions in the White Sea. Why would you ever eat those things for breakfast? I look dejectedly at the circus train built from Lucky Charms that chugs across the surface of my milk. I place one finger on top of the engine and drag it around the bowl once, twice.

                “No!” I hear my mother’s scolding, but can’t see her face. Quickly, my hand shoots out of the bowl and settles on my lap, my head dipping down. The police have caught up to the train, and they’re coming after the conductor.

                “Michelle, no!” My mother’s voice rings in my ears. Wait a minute. I peek up from below my eyelids. There’s no Michelle on this train. My sister is not circus material. I tiptoe to the kitchen door and peer around the wooden frame.

                “You can’t feed Sammy your vitamin! You might not like it, but it could hurt him! We would have to take him to the vet.” My mother takes the bunny out of my sister’s arms and places him back in his cage. “I thought you knew better.” My sister sees me standing in the door and sticks her tongue out, then darts upstairs. As a loud wailing starts above, I sneak back into the kitchen and dump my cereal down the drain.


                “Bye, Aaron.” My mother leans over for a quick kiss, then breezes out the nursery school door. I watch as her car zooms past the window like the matchbox race cars I have at home. I hope she won’t crash into my bedroom wall.

                I turn from the front door and hurry to a bright window in the back of our classroom. Beneath it is a metal cage, the home of our class bunny, Fatty. His coat is mostly black, just like Sammy’s at home. He’s always being petted by someone, and right now I can see my friend Jeremy bent over the cage.

                “Hi Jeremy,” I say, reaching my hand in to stroke Fatty. Fatty does not pay attention to me; his face is buried in Jeremy’s hand. “What are you feeding Fatty?”

                Jeremy pulls his hand out of the cage and brandishes a bright yellow crayon. “I was coloring, and he looked really interested, so I let him taste my crayon. It seems like he really likes it.” Jeremy puts the crayon in Fatty’s cage again, and I watch in horror as he nibbles it. What if it’s like Sammy this morning, when Michelle had tried to feed him something he wasn’t supposed to eat? What was it that Mom had said? ‘… it could hurt him!’ Uh oh.

                “Jeremy!” I whisper fiercely, snatching the crayon from Fatty. “You can’t feed Fatty a crayon, it might make him sick!” Jeremy’s lip starts to tremble, and I feel really bad, as well as scared.

                “Don’t tell Ms. Sara,” Jeremy whispers. “I don’t want to get in trouble! Fatty will be okay, I promise he didn’t eat much. Don’t tell or… or I won’t be your friend ever again.” Jeremy crosses his arms and sniffs.

                Jeremy? Not be my friend? The thought stings like that bee at the pool last summer, except worse. Without Jeremy, who would I play dinosaurs with? Who would come over to my house and help me build Lego castles? But if I don’t tell Ms. Sara what Jeremy has done, Fatty might get sick.

                “I… I don’t know…” I stutter.


                I look at Fatty. He seems okay, with his lopsided ears and little pink nose. I make up my mind to watch him carefully, then turn back to Jeremy. “Okay.”


                I swallow. “Promise.”


                Jeremy is my best friend all day. During story time, he lets me sit closer to the teacher. In music, he trades his drum for my maracas. At snack, he gives me one of his Oreo cookies. As I am busy trying to split the two Oreo cookies so I can lick the frosting from the center, I hear a rustle in Fatty’s cage behind me. I startle and turn to look at the bunny, scared. Is he okay? Fatty is poised under his water bottle, tiny pink lips sucking the silver straw sprouting from the bottom. I breathe a sigh of relief, calling myself silly for being so nervous. But my muscles still feel tight; my shoulders are all bunched like something heavy is sitting on top of me.

                A second glance at Fatty makes my throat feel tight again. He is licking his belly. Are bunnies supposed to do that? I shuffle through my memories but can’t seem to think straight. What if he’s getting sick? My foot starts to bump nervously against the leg of the table.

                “Hey, stop it Aaron!” Jeremy complains, watching his cookie bounce across the table. He reaches out and traps it under one fist, trying to keep it from falling to the ground. I try to stop, I really do, but my leg won’t listen to me. “Ms. Sara!” Jeremy calls, getting annoyed. I thought best friends weren’t supposed to tell on each other.

                Ms. Sara is at our table in an instant. “Aaron, can you please stop moving your leg? It’s making it hard for some of your classmates to eat their snacks.” Fatty has stopped licking his belly and is now running around his cage. He must be healthy, if he has this much energy. Slowly, I regain control of my leg and am able to bring it to rest. Ms. Sara smiles at me, and I light up from the inside out. “Thank you, Aaron.” It is nice to make Ms. Sara happy.

                Suddenly, Jeremy jumps out of his chair and begins hopping up and down. “Ms. Sara, I need to go to the bathroom.” When Ms. Sara nods, Jeremy is running around the corner, knocking over a pile of blocks in the process. We worked on that block tower all morning.

                As Ms. Sara starts to leave, I notice Fatty is licking his belly again. I cannot take it anymore. “Ms. Sara?” I whisper loudly. Right now, it seems like Fatty being healthy is a lot more important than being Jeremy’s friend.

                “Yes, Aaron?” Ms. Sara replies. I motion for her to come closer, until my hand is cupped around her ear. I hesitate. Should I really be doing this? “Did you want to tell me something?” Ms. Sara’s dangling earrings press into my palm. My heart beats wildly. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Fatty nibbling at his paws. I think of how much I’d miss Fatty if he was sick, and how long I have until Jeremy came back from the bathroom.

                The truth blurts out of me like the ink from Mom’s broken fountain pen. “Jeremy fed Fatty a yellow crayon this morning,” I whisper. “But I stopped Fatty before he had even eaten the whole tip, I promise!” Promise? Oh no, I had broken my promise to Jeremy! He was going to be really mad… but only if he found out. “Don’t tell Jeremy that I told you,” I plead. “He won’t be my friend anymore.”

                Ms. Sara draws back, her earrings leaving star-shaped tattoos on my palms. She looks at me so hard, I can feel myself shrinking to the size of an ant. I feel as if I have been trapped, like fireflies in a jar. Then she leans forward and hugs me.

                “Thank you for telling me.” She smiles. “You should never feed anything other than bunny food to Fatty. It could really hurt him.” An anvil drops in my chest, anchoring me to my seat. If Fatty was sick, then it was my fault. “Thankfully, we have special crayons here at school that won’t hurt anyone if they are eaten. But that doesn’t mean they taste good.” Ms. Sara laughs, but I don’t quite understand why.

                “Is Fatty going to be okay?”

                “He’ll be just fine,” Ms. Sara reassures me. She stands and walks away, leaving just me and Fatty sitting beneath the large window. I feel as light as air, as if I could rise into the sky like a hot air balloon and fly all the way to Disney World without stopping to rest. Fatty will be okay, and if Ms. Sara doesn’t tell, which she won’t, Jeremy will still be my friend. I reach my hand into Fatty’s cage and run it over his back. His fur seeps between my fingers, and he jumps when I touch his twitchy nose.

                “He’s just fine,” A voice behind me states firmly. Jeremy has returned from the bathroom and is now standing behind me, munching on his cookie. As the crumbs fall onto my shoulder, I smile at Fatty.

                “I know.”

© 2010 Kate

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Another exceptional piece. I really enjoyed "Dark Currents"; however I was flabergasted after reading :The Secret is in the Telling."

Posted 10 Years Ago

This is fantastic. "Jeremy? Not be my friend? The thought stings like that bee at the pool last summer, except worse."

Great story.

Posted 14 Years Ago

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2 Reviews
Added on January 21, 2010
Last Updated on January 21, 2010
Tags: preschool, kid, fear, care



Norwalk, CT

Just a 16 year old girl writing in my spare time. more..

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