EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken

EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken by Sally Warner Read Free Book Online

Book: EllRay Jakes Is Not a Chicken by Sally Warner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sally Warner
told me you fell down in class, and she says Jared Matthews might have tripped you on purpose. She wasn’t sure, because her back was turned.”
    I hold my breath and don’t say a word.
    â€œ Did he trip you, son?” Dad asks gently. “Is there something going on at Oak Glen that we should know about?”
    Okay .
    When we moved to Oak Glen three years ago, my mom and dad were a little worried, because there aren’t that many other families in this town who are African-American. Just about ten or eleven of them, something like that. And at first, my parents were on the lookout for any little thing that would tell them people had some problem with us. But so far, so good—except sometimes I wish there were more black kids at our school, just so it would come out even.
    Oh, and Alfie told me once that Suzette at day care keeps wanting to touch her braids. But that’s a secret, we decided, because we don’t want our dad to freak.
    He’s very sensitive about stuff like that.
    â€œNo, nothing,” I mumble. “It’s okay.”
    â€œSpeak up, son,” my dad reminds me. “Be proud of what you have to say.”
    â€œI am proud,” I tell him, even though my heart is thudding so hard you can almost see my T-shirt jump. “But Jared tripped me by accident, Dad. Accidents happen, right? That’s where the expression comes from.”
    Sure, I could get Jared in trouble right now by telling on him.
    Sure, I could even say he’s picking on me because I’m black.
    But it’s not that! Jared would have said something if it was. He is not the type of kid to keep things to himself. That much is obvious.
    Anyway, there are plenty of other things that could be make him want to pick on me. Like, I’m the shortest kid in class, so I’m the easiest to pick on.
    And I get all the laughs, so maybe he’s jealous.
    In fact, I’m better at just about everything at school—except being big—than Jared is.
    Or, like I said before, there could be no reason at all. Just him being bored because Christmas is over.
    â€œAnd you’re really all right?” my dad asks, looking me up and down—which doesn’t take very much time at all, for obvious reasons.
    I nod my head.
    â€œBut—why didn’t you mention it to your mom or me, EllRay?” Dad asks. “I just don’t understand. I certainly think falling flat on your face in class is a worse thing than dropping your sandwich at lunch.”
    â€œBut dropping my sandwich meant I was hungry all afternoon,” I explain, still lying my head off. “And you’re not supposed to argue about another person’s good or bad,” I remind him, even though I probably shouldn’t.
    Dad sighs. “Well, you have a point there,” he finally admits. “But I want you to promise that you’ll tell your mother or me if this problem with Jared continues, okay? Because we want to nip this sort of thing in the bud.”
    I’m not exactly sure what that expression means, but I get the general idea. “I promise,” I tell him, crossing my fingers behind my back.
    I don’t like lying to my dad, but in this case, it’s for his own good.
    Also, it’s for the good of Disneyland.
    I think I’ll go on the pirate ride first.
    â€œCan I leave now?” I ask. “Because I have homework to do, and I don’t want to get behind.”
    My father looks at me for one long minute. Behind his glasses, his brown eyes still look troubled. “All right, son,” he says slowly. “If you’re sure everything is really okay at school.”
    â€œIt is,” I tell him. But I pause with my hand on the doorknob and look back. “Thanks, Dad,” I say, because all of a sudden, for the very first time, it occurs to me that it is probably hard for him to be him, just the way it’s hard for me to be me. He’s so prickly and

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