My assignment: to write a short story using “subject of an interrogation,” “person who steals cats,” “lightning,” and “worst haircut ever.” Here’s the result. It does get a bit ridiculous, but I hope you can enjoy it nonetheless.

I don’t like this room. It’s cold and there’s no color. The top half of the walls are white like old snow and the bottom half dark grey like heavy clouds. The plastic table is the kind of white that screams how unimportant I am. The metal chair that freezes my butt is grey. So is the chair on the other side of the table, but it’s empty. The only light is one of those long skinny lights that belong in basement.

The only color is when I look in the mirror that covers the wall opposite my seat. It doesn’t have color, but I do, so I stare. Normally, my hair is brown, but I let my sister cut it. If anyone reads this, give them this warning from me: never let a girl cut your hair after you’ve pissed her off! It was the worst haircut ever. Some parts are long, others short. Part of the hair on top of my head stands straight up—the right side when I look in the mirror. I run my fingers lightly over it. That part is so spiky I’m surprised I don’t stab my palm. The other side lies down because she didn’t cut it short.

I bend my head down and try to look up to see the bald spot. I can just barely see it and rub it. I shouldn’t have a bald spot. I’m not an old man like my dad. He’s almost forty. He’s supposed to have a bald spot. But my sister made sure I had one to match his. That’s why I went to Jimmy’s house.

Jimmy Baker has a big sister who’s a teenager. My sister will be a teenager next year, that’s probably why she doesn’t know how to really do hair yet. I used to have a crush on Brittany. That’s Jimmy’s sister. She has a boyfriend now, and he’s really big, so I don’t stare at her anymore. I think he’s on the high school football team and I don’t want him to beat me up for staring.

Brittany dyed her hair pink for something at school, and had some leftover dye. Jimmy said he could use it on my hair and mix it with some of his mom’s hair dye. Her hair is black and he said if we mixed the two colors together, I could have purple hair. Then no one would notice my worst haircut ever and would only see the color.

Jimmy told me that even Ava Jackson would notice me then. She’s the prettiest girl in fifth grade and all her homework is perfect. When he said that, I figured he knew what he was talking about, because he kissed a girl in third grade. I was there during recess when he did it. He was dad and Olivia Robinson was mom and Mia Thomas was my sister. Right before the bell rang, he kissed her because he said he was going to work, and Olivia kissed him back. So every boy in our class trusts Jimmy when he says what a girl will like.

I never made it to school, though. I made it here to the police station. It was the cat’s fault. I keep wondering if there’s anyone behind that mirror staring back at me like on cop shows so I start making faces at myself. My purple hair is the only real color in the room except for my pink tongue, so I stick that out a lot. Then I laugh, because any adult who’s watching me must be rolling their eyes.

But then I think of that darn cat. I didn’t take the bus this morning because I wanted to walk to school so everyone could see my purple hair, even if it’s the worst haircut ever. How was I supposed to know the cat belonged to somebody? It didn’t have a collar with a license and was just wandering around. It was sooooo cute, like it belonged on a calendar. All grey with big green eyes and this lightning-shaped white streak on its forehead just like Harry Potter, and it came right up to me, rubbing against my jeans.

When I bent down to stroke its back, it purred as loud as the garbage truck! That’s when I knew I should take it home. My parents don’t like pets, but how could they resist this cat?

I called him Lightning and he purred even louder, so I picked him up to carry him home. Then some huge man charged out of his house yelling at me in some language I didn’t understand. He made Brittany’s football boyfriend look small. It makes sense to you why I ran, doesn’t it? I suppose I should’ve dropped Lightning, but now he was licking my fingers and his fur was sooooo soft, so I kept running until I got home. The man didn’t chase me very far. He was too fat.

I should have gone to school to show off my purple hair to Ava, but I would’ve been tardy, and I needed to take care of Lightning. He had just curled up on my bed, still purring, when the police cars came to my house, tires squealing. Five of them with their lights flashing and sirens screaming. Lightning ran under the bed and I haven’t seen him since. The police all jumped out and hid behind their cars with their guns pointed at my house.

A policeman had one of those electric speaker things that you hold in one hand and yell into.

“Put down any weapons and come out peacefully with your hands where we can see them!” At least, I think that’s what he yelled. My heart was beating pretty loud at that point, because there was no one home but me, and I’m not supposed to talk to strangers.

Lightning meowed rather loudly from under my bed and that’s when I knew I’d committed a horrible crime. I’d stolen the big man’s cat. Unless the principal sent the cops after me. Either way, I was in big trouble. Then I got scared because there was no way my dad wouldn’t find out, so I decided I’d better not pretend to not be home.

I yelled, “Don’t shoot, I’m coming,” out my window, then went downstairs and out the front door. My mom would be proud of me. I remembered to lock the front door and had my house key!

The policemen came out from behind their cars with their guns pointed at me. That’s when I figured my principal must’ve figured out I was skipping school. It’s just the sort of thing she’d ask the police to do to scare a kid who didn’t show up.

So that’s how I ended up in this room at the police station. The “integration room” or something like that, the lady who took me here called it. I think it might’ve been a Russian word, because the policeman who drove me here kept asking me how I knew the Russian, but I don’t know any Russian. Maybe he meant the big man.

The door to the room opened and my heart sank. I’m in real trouble now. My dad just walked in. Maybe I could blame it all on my sister. I mean, she’s the one who cut my hair.


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