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February 24th, 2017

I looked over hopefully. "Hey, mom. I'm feeling sick. I don't think I'm going to school today."

I waited a moment but she didn't even look up from her phone. She's just looked sad lately. I opened the front door and walked out.

I stopped going into school three days ago. Everybody was ignoring me there too. The teachers wouldn't call on me if I was the only person with their hand up. I've already got a great routine built up too.

First stop is the park. There's a great playground that usually very busy. It turns out that the crowd really thins out during school hours though.

After a couple of hours, I walk into Lolli and Pops and look around. I'm thinking either something really sour or salty today. How about both? I grab a couple of packs of Sour Patch Kids and a bag of Funyuns. Now for the tricky part. As you can imagine, a kid in fourth grade like me doesn't have the budget to pay for snacks like this every day. So I carefully stuff the plastic bags into my coat pockets. I make a beeline straight for the door and hear the owner just as I'm about to pull the door open.

"Why, hello there. Can I help you?"

I almost feel relief that I'm not being ignored, but that quickly passes. I feel my face tingle and I freeze. Should I make a run for it? Maybe I should pretend I didn't hear him. I should choose something. Staying frozen here's not going to help.

A woman I hadn't noticed responds, "No thank you, I'm just looking." He hadn't seen me!

I quickly and quietly open the door and run around the corner. I lean against the brick wall and pant for a minute from just the rush of it all. Okay, snacks secured.

I walk down 4th Street for a couple of blocks to the Bow Tie Theater. This one's easy. The movie theater has morning shows for stay-at-home parents to bring their preschool age kids too. Kids are free so nobody cares if I walk in. I stand next to a light pole and time it so that I walk right next to a mom pushing her stroller in. I even hold open the door for her as we walk in. She ignores me though and doesn't even thank me.

I check my pockets to make sure my snacks are with me, and just walk along to get into any theater. I'd look at the boards and see what was playing but I don't want to get caught being out all alone. My mom used to say, "Beggars can't be choosers." I find a nice seat right in front and pull out my Sour Patch Kids.

About fifteen minutes into the movie, an usher comes up with a small flashlight. He points it right at me. I freeze just like I had in the candy store. The usher stares at me for what feels like a few minutes, but then walks away. I don't know what they're looking for, but it's obviously not me.

An hour and a half later I walk out having gained a good day's education about the secret lives of talking snakes. I start walking home. Not that my mom would notice, but it just doesn't feel right sneaking around if school is out.

As I'm walking past the park, I notice a crowd of people huddled around something on top of a hill. I don't have a watch, but I decide there's enough time to go check it out. As I get closer, I think I see my mom! I quickly run and hide behind a light post. It's not really wide enough to hide me, but I had to do something. I peek past the edge of the pole and plan a route to get closer without being caught. It's definitely her! I get closer and notice she's crying. There's other people around her hugging her. Something must be wrong. Oh no, maybe she's worried because I ran out. I run over to comfort her.

"Mom, it's me. I'm here. I'm fine."

She must not have heard me because she didn't respond. I look over to see what everybody is gathered around and see a tombstone with my name on it.