Charlie was like other coyotes his age. Nothing was more fun than pulling pranks. If he wasn’t pouring glue in the milk jug, he was convincing his little sister that Santa Claus had real claws. His parents shook their heads and did everything they could to get him to stop, but he didn’t. Making Lisa cry at her fourth birthday party was the last straw, so they contacted his teacher for help.
“Do you think that might work?” Mrs. Wolfe looked at Charlie’s teacher and was not convinced.
“I think it will, if we all stick to our guns,” she said, grinning.
“Well, okay,” Mr. Wolfe said, nodding. “We’ll start it tomorrow.”
With a new plan of attack in place, they returned home and froze. In the hour they had been gone, Charlie had thrown toilet paper all over the outside of their den, dug up his mother’s flowers, and tied terrified Lisa to the desert willow.
His mother sighed and clenched her teeth, then screamed, “CHARLES BAXTER WOLFE!”
Charlie’s grin dropped as soon as he saw his mother’s crimson face.
Charlie kicked the ground and stomped to his room, slamming the door behind him.
That night, the Wolfe family, minus Charlie, played games and laughed in the living room. Charlie sulked on his bed. He didn’t like being excluded from fun.
“Good morning,” his father said as Charlie sat down at the table for breakfast.
“Morning,” Charlie mumbled, rubbing his face. He picked up the cereal box and shook it. “Any more?”
“Oh, sorry, hun,” his mother said. “Lisa must have gotten the last bowl.”
Charlie looked at his sister’s empty chair. “Where is she?”
“School.” Mr. Wolfe looked at his watch. “You’re ten minutes late.”
“What!” Charlie dashed from the table, grabbed his bag, and ran out of the house.
Lisa came out of the pantry and giggled.
“So glad you could join us, Charlie,” his teacher said over his classmates’ giggles. “You missed a pop quiz.”
Charlie sank in his seat and opened his backpack only to find Lisa’s things instead of his. He lifted the bag and saw a pink fluffy unicorn staring back at him. The thud of his head hitting his desk echoed around the room. His teacher did her best not to laugh, then she nodded toward Alice.
Alice walked to the front of the room and read from her paper. “Charlie and I researched the moon.”
Charlie’s eyes grew wide and he gulped. How could he have forgotten? It was due next week, wasn’t it? What would his parents say when they find out he missed another assignment? “Um, Mrs. Howard, may I go to the nurse, please?”
Mrs. Howard smiled and nodded. The class giggled as Charlie ran from the room.
Inside the nurse’s office, Nurse Sarah took his temperature. “Here, take this, Charlie.” She handed him a small cup that he happily swallowed in one gulp. He didn’t notice the grin that she tried to hide.
Charlie’s stomach gurgled and he bolted from the office, down the hall, and toward the outhouse.
“Oh, sorry, must have mixed that up,” Nurse Sarah said to an empty office, laughing.
Charlie stayed in the outhouse for the rest of the day. At the end of the school day, he was defeated. Nothing about that day had been fun. Hearing the other kids laugh and play and make fun of him through the outhouse door hurt his feelings.
On the walk home, he wiped the tears from his eyes. Lisa’s tear-soaked face flashed in his mind. He had been a horrible brother.
As soon as he opened the door, he apologized to Lisa, and his parents. He never wanted to be treated like that again, and he would never treat her bad again. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I’ll never play another prank again.”
“Well,” Lisa said, hugging him. “You can if it’s not a mean prank.”