“What happened this time?” the teacher sighs. “You forgot? You dropped it in a puddle? Your sister stole it?”
“My dog ate it,” I state simply.
“Really?” Ms. Reynolds regards me skeptically. “Your dog ate your homework?”
“Can’t you do better than that?”
“Fine, go ahead. Explain.” Ms. Reynolds folds her wrinkled hands neatly on her desk and stares up at me attentively over her wire-rimmed spectacles.
I inhale deeply, collecting my thoughts.
“It all started when I was walking home from school on Friday. It was a sunny afternoon and a gentle breeze stirred the budding leaves on the trees, bringing with it the scent of spring.
“As I was passing the Metropolitan Ville Pet Shop, something in the window caught my eye. I pushed open the door to the shop and went straight to the dog display window. A little beagle pup jumped up and put his paws on the glass, wagging his tail happily. I put my hand up to the invisible wall separating us. The beagle’s big brown eyes were alight with excitement and I could have sworn it was smiling at me. I turned to leave, but it was as though a string had been wrapped around my heart, fastening me to the adorable pup in the window.”
“Uh huh,” Ms. Reynolds hums. “And if the dog was in the window, how exactly did it get at your homework?”
“Well, I bought it of course!” I say, puffing up my chest like a proud parent. “Right then and there, I called over the salesman and-”
“Where’d you get the money from?” Ms. Reynolds cuts me off. “Dogs are expensive.”
I wipe my sweaty hands on my jeans and take a deep breath before continuing. “That’s where things get interesting,” I tell her. “I told the salesman not to sell that puppy to anyone, and then I left. Somehow, I had to get $350! I started looking for a part-time job-”
“You’re thirteen.” Ms. Reynolds purses her lips doubtfully.
“Fourteen, actually,” I correct her. “But anyway, I searched for two whole hours! Then I finally found something. It was a dark, shady building—a warehouse, really. Kinda looked like it was gonna collapse. But a big sign by the door read, “HIRING” in bold letters, so I went for it.
“The door creaked as I opened it, then slammed shut.
Inside, it was dark. There was a dirt floor and a round, concrete platform in the centre. On the platform stood a control panel with more buttons than I could count!”
Ms. Reynolds raises her eyebrows skeptically, but motions for me to continue.
“Most were small, but in the centre of the panel was a huge, glowing red button. A sign beside it said HQ. I reached out to press it, but just as my hand brushed the smooth surface, an alarm went off! “
“ERRR! ERRR! ERRR!” I say, imitating the blaring alarm. “Then an automated voice kept repeating INTRUDER ALERT, INTRUDER ALERT. I ran for the door, but just as I reached it, someone jumped in front of me, blocking my escape!”
“It was a man, dressed all in black! He towered over me, dark and foreboding. His voice was deep and gravelly when he spoke.”
“‘What do you want?’ he said. “I was scared out of my wits, and I think I may have, uh, wet myself,” I admit. “My voice trembled like a leaf in the wind as I explained how I was looking for a job and had seen the sign out front. I tried to leave, but he invited me back to the platform, and I followed hesitantly.”
“And then what?” Ms. Reynolds says dubiously, tucking a strand of thin grey hair behind her ear.
“Well, he pressed the big red button! And-”
“And… what? A secret staircase appeared?”
“No, no! Of course not!” I deny. “Let’s be realistic here—secret staircases are so yesterday. This is the 21st century!”
“So, it was a portal then?” Ms. Reynolds raises an eyebrow.
“Don’t be silly!” I say. “The floor opened up and swallowed us whole!”
“Oh, yes. Right. How stupid of me!” my teacher cries, throwing her hands in the air. “So, what happened next?”
“I fell,” I say. “And I just kept falling, and falling, and falling, and-”
“Okay, I get the point!” as she snaps and takes a deep breath. “Continue.”
“I felt like I would just keep falling, and then WHAM! I slammed into a thick, gel-like substance—it was a giant vat of jell-o!”
Ms. Reynolds mutters something that sounds like, “Good heavens!”
I ignore her and keep telling my story. “After I ate my way out of the jell-o, the dude in black told me he was a spy! And he hired me to help him protect the country! He gave me all these cool gadgets and gizmos, and then we went up this super-fast elevator to the roof. And there was a jet! It had guns and lasers and missiles! And a stealth mode to make it practically invisible! I even got to fly it!”
“I suppose you flew to some foreign country next, to save the President?” my teacher sighs.
“How did you know?” I say. “We went to Russia and saved President Putin from assassins!”
Ms. Reynolds’ head suddenly snaps up, her grey hair whipping with the motion. “Now, wait just one minute! What do spies and assassins have to do with your homework?”
“Or your dog, for that matter!”
“I needed a job to buy the dog, so I became a spy. By Saturday night, I had made $30,000! I went back to the pet shop and rushed inside. I had more than enough to buy the pup now! I brought him home that night and got him settled in!”
“But as I was sitting on the ground next to him, doing my assignments…” I shrugged. “He grabbed my paper, and, well… My dog ate my homework.”