WEIRD PETS • by Clint Lowe

As soon as Miss Kate left detention class for the toilet, Edelle scrambled over to Leah. “Flippidy books,” Edelle said, and flung Leah’s hardbacks from her desk, spreading them on the ground.

Jaryd sat cowering in his seat, drawing squiggly pictures and offering no help, so Leah shifted her glasses straight and began gathering her books. She glanced at her bag, glad Edelle didn’t kick it. Edelle stood over her, flicked back her blonde hair and watched like a crow spotting a wriggling worm. Leah retrieved her Sherlock Holmes but her Weird Pets book — her favorite — had landed near Edelle’s red shoe.

Leah shut her eyes for a moment and took a quick breath, but then as she ventured to take it, Edelle kicked it away.

Leah retrieved it. When she stood up with her Holmes and Weird Pets in her hand, Edelle shoved her against the wall. “Think your glasses make you smart.” Edelle flicked them crooked.

“No,” Leah said, straightening her glasses once again.

“Why don’t you talk to me then?” Edelle said. “Only Sherlock Holmes good enough?”

“No,” Leah said, hunching into the hardbound copy of Holmes himself.

Leah went to walk away, but Edelle shoved her arm in front of her. “Then what’s your problem?”

Leah shrugged the tiniest of shrugs. “Haven’t got one.”

Edelle’s face crept closer to Leah’s.

“It’s just…” Leah said.

“Just what?” Edelle said, creeping closer still.

Leah swallowed, her knees clunked together. “I never have much to say. I prefer to listen or read… or ask questions.”

Edelle shoved her into the middle of the classroom, knocking Leah back into her desk. Leah was careful not to kick her bag. “Then ask me a question,” Edelle said.

Leah looked at Jaryd for help once more, but Edelle glared at him and he shoved his head back into his little case, pretend-shuffling for a colored pencil, Leah thinking he needs to reach for a yellow to color his stomach. But Leah forgot him and glanced at the clock above the big blackboard. She needed a question to stall this raging girl until Miss Kate returned. But her mind was as blank as the blackboard, until her bag shuffled, reminding her of why she had detention.

“Why did you get detention?” Leah asked, firming her wobbling knees.

“Kissed a boy,” Edelle said, then stuck her finger toward Jaryd, who shuffled in his seat. “That one right there. In class. In front of everyone. Then punched him in the stomach cause he bit my lip.” Edelle flicked Leah’s lip. “You kissed a boy?”


“Kiss a frog? Hoping he’d turn into a prince?” Edelle laughed, a laugh faker than that fairy tale.


Edelle grabbed Leah’s collar, her eyes beading. “Then what bad thing you do, huh?”

Leah knew she wasn’t allowed to get it out again until the bus home, but she dug into her bag and pulled out her ferret; it leaped onto Edelle’s head, with just a little push from Leah.

Edelle screamed, threw it from her hair and ran to the door, smacking into Miss Kate who was returning from the bathroom. Miss Kate fell against the blackboard and Edelle kept running, her screams fading down the hall.

“Where’s she heading?” Miss Kate asked Leah. “Her time’s not up.”

“Um . . .” Leah was about to answer.

“Double detention for her,” Miss Kate said, straightening her cardigan.

Then Leah stayed quiet.

Jaryd quickly stowed her ferret back in the bag, and Leah sat and opened Weird Pets.

This is Leah from detention speaking. Clint Lowe is a writer from Victoria, Australia. He sat in detention with me and wrote this story. It’s just in the story he changed his little-scared name to Jaryd.

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