A Secret

by Shawn Yeo (P6 2022)
           “Let’s go home!” John exclaimed as he waved at Tom. Grabbing their schoolbags, the brothers rushed out of the school together. Tom, the elder one, was thoughtful and mature. He was also a tall, lean and athletic boy. John was the polar opposite; he was a short, scrawny and bespectacled child. Although slightly immature, he was a sympathetic child. Nevertheless, they were like two peas in a pod. They were finally dismissed after a tiring day at school and the two could not wait to get home.


          To get home more quickly, the siblings decided to take a shortcut through an abandoned warehouse. The shade of trees provided a brief respite from the glare of the ball of fire hanging high in the azure sky. While trudging past the decrepit structure, John and Tim suddenly heard a distant whimper. The younger one turned pallid and his stomach knotted in a tight fist, clenching his intestines as fear swamped him. Could someone be injured? That could not be right – no one was supposed to be there. The mournful whines continued on. Eventually, out of curiosity, they ventured closer towards the dreadful sound which seemed to come from behind a door. With bated breath, they pushed open the door…


          “Bark! Bark!” A startled fur ball protested behind some cardboard boxes. “Wow, a puppy! Where is your owner?” John exclaimed. Before Tom could respond, the critter started poking its tiny nose into John’s schoolbag. “What? Oh! That’s my half-eaten sandwich.” John took out the ham and bread. The puppy gobbled it down in one chomp.


          Tom was in deep thought. He could imagine this puppy was abandoned, and therefore lacked the skill to find food on its own. If the dog was left behind, it might not be able to fend for itself. He could also see the sparkle in his younger brother’s eye – he wanted to keep it without a doubt. Tom was also fully aware that their mother would not welcome a pet in their home.


          John was the smart one this time. He suggested to leave the dog in the warehouse but come back to feed it every day. Thinking it was a brilliant idea, the two agreed to embark on “Project Park” because they would pretend to exercise at the park. As this was their first-time taking care of a pet, this was a new experience and they decided to borrow books from the library to improve their knowledge of dogs. They even patched up its cardboard box with some rags and a cushion, creating a lovely “den”. All this while they felt guilty for not telling the truth, but for now, keeping the dog a secret from their parents seemed to be the only option.


          The brothers were playing with the dog one afternoon when it suddenly stopped and started barking alarmingly. As Tom turned around, what he saw next made trepidation threaten to swallow him whole.


          It was their mother!


          As her children were coming home late recently, and suspiciously, they stopped complaining about her dinner, she decided to follow them after school to see what was happening. In fact, she had been standing there for a while, observing the great companionship of the dog to her sons.


          The two children slouched their shoulders in shame when their mother began to talk. “Looks like this would be our new family member. What’s its name?” Upon hearing this, the brothers erupted into euphoric cheers and thanked their mother profusely.


          The brothers were relieved that the cat was finally out of the bag, although ‘the dog was out of the bag’ would be more precise. They were thankful that their mother was understanding and apologised for keeping it a secret from her. Tom and John pledged to be responsible pet owners and take care of the dog with a lot of effort. This was truly an unforgettable experience.


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