KEEP OUT

KEEP OUT

From Chicken Soup for the Child's Soul

Keep Out

The summer I turned ten was one I’ll never forget. It was the summer I crashed my bicycle and got a scar from my knee almost down to my ankle. It was the summer my best friend, Tasha, moved away, and we got our big, slobbery Saint Bernard. It was also the summer I discovered my brother’s diary wedged between the wall and the turtle’s tank.

If my brother had been anywhere in the house—or even in the yard—on the day I discovered it, I would have left it where it was. That day, however, my brother was at his friend’s house, probably swimming in their pool, and I hadn’t been able to find anyone to play with. It seemed so unfair, and I felt my brother was to blame. After all, he could have stayed home and played with me. Looking back, I can see that wasn’t the greatest excuse.

I sat down on my brother’s bed, on top of his Star Wars quilt, and pushed aside his stinky socks. I just held the black book with KEEP OUT scratched into the cover in my hands for a few minutes, watching our turtle, Emma, bask under the red heating lamp.

As Emma slipped off her rock into the murky water, I could no longer help myself, and I quickly flipped open the pages. For the most part, it was pretty disappointing: science homework due, a bad dream about living in a mushroom, the awful sweater he got from my grandma, and stuff like that. My brother didn’t write much and had no real secrets—until I got to June 17.

The words on the page said, “I love Melissa.”

The moment I read that, I knew I shouldn’t have. I quickly shoved the diary back into place, went to my own room, and started reading. I didn’t confront my brother; I just tried to forget all about it.

And I did forget all about the diary—for three weeks and five days. That day was the kind of summer day when you start to wish school was back on again because you have nothing to do.

My brother and I started nagging each other. Who knows what started it, but it got worse and worse until I was in tears. I was the one who always ended up in tears.

After my tears had dried, I knew what I was going to do. I was tired of being the one who lost every fight. I snuck my brother’s diary out of his room and told my mom I was going for a bike ride.

I did go biking—straight over to Melissa’s house. I showed her the diary and even went as far as saying that he wrote her name on everything and had carved a big heart with their initials in our tree house. Then I rushed back home to tell my brother what I had done.

As the color drained from my brother’s face, I added that Melissa had said that my brother was “grody to the max,” which was the worst thing I could think of. I didn’t understand what that meant, but I had heard the big kids say it, and I was out to be the winner this time. I wanted my brother to end up in tears, the way I always did.

I can’t even remember what my brother did to upset me that day, but I do remember the awful feeling I had from betraying a person that—although we fought—I loved. Even though my brother did end up in tears— tears of humiliation and anger—it didn’t feel like I had won. In fact, it felt worse than, say, the embarrassment of having the most private secrets in your diary shared with everyone in the neighborhood.

Esme Sky Mills

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