Fred's Thoughts This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Oh great. Here she comes, finally. And could this at last be my dinner? Hallelujah, she has my food! Some celery, some birdseed, and one of those tasty little crunchy things. It's about time, too. You know, the day before yesterday she didn't feed me at all. Of course, she apologized and made kissing noises at me and gave me extra food the next morning, but I really would have preferred to eat at night. Hey, what is this? She's talking to me in that dumb, high-pitched voice again, telling me about how I'm sure a cute little rat and blah de blah blah.... On the one hand, it's annoying when she talks to me like that, but on the other hand it's kind of flattering.

My cuteness is what saved my life, after all. Ah, she's finally decided to put the food in my bowl. Now, if she'd just let me eat in peace.... Oh, not that loud annoying music again! I never knew how much noise people could make until I moved in here. The pet store was always so quiet. Well, there were a few noises I wasn't fond of, actually. Like the noise Benny made when he ate one of my friends. Benny was a big ugly snake they kept in the next room. Every week and a half or so, the big balding man who owned the pet store would come in and grab one of us. Oh, sure we tried to avoid him, but he'd get one of us every time. Then he'd drop the unlucky victim in Benny's cage and we would soon hear a crunching-squishing noise, none too pleasant, especially when it could have been me. It was no better for most of the rats who were sold, we all knew, for most of them became the meals of other Bennys, elsewhere.

Each of us hoped for the same thing,to become an adored pet and never have to see another snake. So when the blond girl came up to the cage with the big bald guy saying how happy she was to be buying a rat, I sat up and acted as cute as possible. I wriggled my nose and stood up on my hind feet and even rolled around. When she saw me next to all my boring, white friends, I guess I stuck out. I have black ears and a black head and tail. So she pointed me out and baldy picked me up by the tail (I hate that) and dropped me in a cardboard box. I was scared because I had no idea where we were going or what being a pet would be like. I was sorry I had to leave my fellows, knowing I would never see them again... but most of all I was happy to be leaving Benny, wherever my destination was to be. She bounced the box around a bit and then there was smooth motion and voices around me. I heard them say that I was in a car, so I assumed I would soon be at my new home. An obnoxious guy with long hair and an earring in his nose kept peeking at me and asking if the girl would be willing to loan me to his cat. She told him to shut up and I decided I was going to like her. The peeker then advised her to name me "Satan" or "Eightball." The blonde girl nixed both, and informed him that my name was Fred. Fred?

As if to confirm what I had just heard, the girl lifted the lid of my box and said, in her cute-little-rat voice, "FRED! Hi, FRED! How's the cyuuuute little rat?" I buried my head in the sawdust and hoped that we would be home soon. We were. I heard a brief, noisy exchange as soon as we entered the house. A self-important male voice said, "If that is a rat, you are not keeping it."

"If Fred goes, I go with him. Case closed." She punctuated her sentence with a door slam. A muffled protest from the other side of the door, then silence. I expected I'd be staying for awhile. And I was right. I've been here three weeks now, and I have no major complaints. I like the food, and I like being scratched behind the ears. Oh, here she comes again. Guess I'll wiggle my nose now and try to get her attention.... n






This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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