“I hated all of it. The smell of cats and anchovies was terrible. The only thing to do was read the magazines they had there. All of them were four-year-old Sports Illustrateds. Everyone there looked like they were 900 years old. They were staring at me like I had three heads.”
The race started. I started running.
“Go faster!” someone yelled.
“He’s too slow!” another voice said.
“He is slower than a turtle!” someone else shouted.
“He is a turtle!”
By the time I was halfway done, everyone else was finished. I cost the Millbury Dragons the win.
My name is Tobias. Most people call me “Turtle.” Not only because a turtle could probably beat me in a race, but also, I love turtles. I live in Millbury, and the track team is the most popular team in the town.
One day, I came home and started my homework. I got bored, so I cut a face into my glue stick with scissors. My parents called me in for dinner.
My mischievous little brother, Billy, did not come for dinner. My mom told me to check on him.
I looked all around the house for him, and there was one room left. Mine. I pushed open the door. I could not believe what I saw…
The little devil had fed my glue stick to my beloved turtle, Rob! I rushed down the stairs, nearly falling down. I told my parents. My dad took me and Rob to the vet.
I hated all of it. The smell of cats and anchovies was terrible. The only thing to do was read the magazines they had there. All of them were four-year-old Sports Illustrateds. Everyone there looked like they were 900 years old. They were staring at me like I had three heads. Maybe it was because I was crying like my mom had just died. My dad pretended like he did not know me.
The vet slowly walked into the dark waiting room. He slumped in my direction. Here it comes, I thought. Suddenly, he lurched to the left and told an old lady her cat had diabetes.
She yelled at him, “My cat is fine,” snatched the cat, and stormed out of the room.
A different vet walked the same walk, and this time, she came to me. She asked me ice breaker questions until I asked if Rob was okay.
She sighed and said, “Sadly, I do not — ’’
She was interrupted by me bursting into tears.
My dad said, “Shut up, Tobias, this is not how sixth graders act in public,” and “It’s just an animal.”
I said, “You’re just an animal too,” and stormed out of the building.
I got Rob when I was two years old. I looked at all the animals in the shop. He was the only one who looked back at me with his sparkling blue eyes. In third grade, I brought him to school and everyone loved him. I instantly became the coolest kid in school for a week. He would make jokes like hiding in his shell and scaring me when I picked him up. In fifth grade, I needed to get one question right to pass. The options were right and left. I asked him, and he moved to the right. He got it right! No pun intended.
I thought about all these things as I walked down Lincoln Drive. It was pitch black and pouring rain. An old man with a Milbury Dragons flag opened his window and started to yell at me. He told me to quit the team. That was it.
I yelled at him, “What is wrong with you!” and took off running. I made it about three feet before I slipped and fell on the concrete, and the old man laughed his head off. I started to cry. I was very wet.
I walked a slow walk home. I took out my phone and saw that it had cracked. My parents are going to be so mad, I thought. I looked at the viral videos. I saw that the old man had taken a video of me running and falling. Oh no, I thought. All the kids at school would see it and make fun of me.
The moment I got home, I fell asleep on the couch. I was awakened by Billy.
“Tobias tutle die?” he asked.
I said, “Yes, Billy, because you’re an idiot.” Then, he started to cry.
The next day I moped through what felt like the longest day of my life. In the morning, my mom and dad talked to me to cheer me up and lecture me. My mom made pancakes in the shape of turtles. I pretended to appreciate their thoughts, even though they made me feel worse. School was not any better.
The whole school had seen the video. It had more likes than “Beep Beep I’m a Sheep,” which had 54,000. Every time I walked into a room, people were holding their laughs. But most people weren’t able to, including Everett, and he was the most popular kid in school. He was also the fastest. I was late for homeroom and was “running’’ to get there. He and his gang tripped me, and I tumbled down the stairs, and they got a video. When the bell rang and school was over, I saw Mr. Munchkin and Principal Noe Boddy watching and laughing at part two.
I walked home instead of taking the bus. How would I survive that? The bus driver had probably seen it. My backpack had started shaking. Probably just my phone, I thought and kept walking.
By the time I was home, it was six o’clock. I started my homework. I had almost finished. There was one thing left. It was a stupid worksheet where we had to glue words onto a sheet. I slowly cracked opened my pencil box. I was about to take out my glue stick when I remembered what had happened to it. Somehow, it was still there. I was a little hesitant to unscrew the cap. I almost passed out when I did.
Standing in front of me was a five-inch-tall glue stick with arms, legs, and a face. I could not believe what was right in front of me.
“Who are you, and what are you?!?!”
“I am Mr. Glue Stickers. I am a magic glue stick. Yes, I am a talking glue stick, and this is not a dream,” it said.
I asked him, “Why are you here?”
And he said, “To help you with your life! Why do think I am here?’’ To be honest, I thought I might need this kind of a miracle to get my life back together.
Mr. Glue Stickers already knew what was happening to me. The next day, which was Saturday, I woke up and was glued into my running clothes and my shoes.
“What, how?” I asked him.
“I have my ways. Didn’t I tell you I was magical? Plus, no magician ever reveals his secrets.’’
I was exhausted when I was done. To make things worse, he made me jog the distance of the neighborhood three times! I guess hard work pays off, because, in four weeks, I could actually beat a first grader in a race!
I still had one thing that still bothered me more than anything else: my turtle. The empty tank on my desk was very depressing.
“I’m a qualified therapist, you know. “
“There is no way that is possible.”
“Check the wrapper.”
There it was. It said, “Qualified Therapist.” Wait a minute! It looked like he wrote it in sharpie!
I doubted that he was telling the truth, but it felt good to finally tell someone how I felt. I might have no more problems! Boy, was I wrong.
The next day at track practice, Coach Caramel Cookie had something to say to me.
“Tobias Trinckleton, you’re off the team.”
“What!?!” I said with disbelief in my voice.
“You’re off the team.”
“What!!!” I said again, about to burst into tears.
“Do you need hearing aids? You’re off the team. Bye-bye! Adios! See you never!”
“Because you are bad at running. Now leave!”
Who knew a cookie could be so mean?
One week later, I was at the tryouts for the Running Cabbages. They had never won a race in their entire existence. I had brought Mr. Glue Stickers with me.
“Are you ready for this?“
“Just relax. Use what we have learned. Okay?”
“All I have learned is running sucks.”
“Really? Wow. Just quit, then.”
“Try your best.”
“We are going to crush that cookie. We are going to dip him in milk and shove him in our mouth.”
He was talking about how the Cabbages race the Dragons once a year.
The tryouts were easy, even for me. Everyone there was horrible at running, though. One kid even tripped on his laces and still made the team. Everyone did. At the end, the coach, Coach Cucumber, had a talk with us.
“You guys are the best! Cabbages on three. Ready? One, two, three.”
No one said a word.
We lost every race. Only parents came to the races, but even they would rather sit in their cars. With every race, I was getting better. Mr. Glue Stickers and I still practiced every day. On the other hand, the Dragons had won every race. It was time for the big race, and we were not ready.
I was the the best runner on the team now. With practice, I could run more and more. The Cabbages never beat the Dragons. If we were going to win, I would have to run the best I had ever run in my whole life.
We arrived at the big race. As soon as we got off of the bus, we could hear the Dragons gossiping about our team. They were talking about our record, our team name, but most importantly, they were talking about me.
“They have the turtle on their team,” said Everett. Everyone laughed at that one, even Coach Cookie.
It was time for my final race, the 100 meters. We needed to win this one to win the competition. My heart was beating faster than ever before. I felt like I had to throw up. We lined up at the start.
Bang! They fired the starting gun. I ran as fast as I could. I was in the back. I almost gave up. That is when Mr. Glue Stickers poked his head out of my pocket.
“Take the glue out of my container and squeeze it,’’ he said. “It will kill me but you will win the race.”
“No!!! I do not want you to die!”
“It is fine, you do not need me any more.”
“It is more than that. You are my best friend. First, my turtle and now you! No way!”
I thought for a second. He really reminded me of my turtle.
“That really touches my heart, but I will have to leave soon anyway. So you leave me with no choice.’’
He jumped out of his container.
“No!!!” I yelled. Everyone stared at me.
I did what he asked. I squeezed him. I instantly started running faster. I passed every one. Now, I was only behind Everett. He did not see me though. He started to slow down and celebrate. That is when I passed him.
“I win, I win, I win!” he yelled.
I was about to pass him.
“Nope, you are wrong. I win!” I yelled, as I passed the finish line.
“What!?! Noooooooo!!!” Everett whined.
My teammates lifted me up with cheers.
“Hip hip hooray!” yelled Coach Cucumber. Everyone stared at him. He is very weird. I started to cry tears of joy and sadness. My dad and brother walked over to me.
“I am sorry for not understanding what that turtle meant to you,” Dad said.
“I’m sorry for killing it,” said Billy.
“Don’t be. I forgive you.”
“Let’s get ice cream,” said Dad.
“Yeah!!!” shouted Billy.
News of the race quickly spread around town. The video of me running was now the new big deal. The old man even bought a Running Cabbages shirt! I was in the newspaper. That still was not the biggest surprise.
“Tobias,” Coach Cookie said to me after school, “I want you on my team next year.”
“Why not?” He sounded surprised and disappointed at the same time.
“You and your team are so rude! You kicked me off the team and were not nice about it. Plus, I like my new team. They actually care about having fun instead of winning!”
“I am sorry, turtle,” he chuckled.
“I am now proud to be a turtle!” I said and walked away.