Rat Boy was taking his baby sister, Cecilia, for a walk in the park. Their mother was at work trying to make ends meet for her family. That was becoming more and more of a chore every pay cheque because prices of goods and rent were increasing every day.
It was a bright summer day. The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
“Do you want me to push you on the swing?” Rat Boy asked Cecilia.
“Yes please,” said Cecilia.
Rat Boy sat Cecilia on the swing and then he pushed her very gently.
“Wee!” shouted Cecilia. “This is fun!”
Rat Boy noticed his friend, Charlie, was watching him. Rat Boy waved at him. Charlie came over to talk to him.
“How come I haven’t seen you in awhile?” asked Charlie.
“I have to babysit my baby sister,” said Rat Boy. “My mom had to get a job.”
“Me and a bunch of other boys are going to raid the dump tonight,” said Charlie. “It would be great if you could come. We need a lookout.”
“I can’t,” said Rat Boy. “I have to look after my sister. My mom is working the afternoon shift.”
“Bring her with us,” said Charlie.
“I can’t do that,” said Rat Boy. “My mother would kill me. The dump is no place for my baby sister.”
“You can’t,” said Charlie. “Or you won’t?”
“Why all the questions?” asked Rat Boy.
“Either you come with us,” said Charlie. “Or we are going to find someone to take your place.”
“Replace me,” said Rat Boy. “I will not put my baby sister in harms way.”
“You are going soft on us,” said Charlie, walking away.
“Rat Boy,” said Cecilia. “Why did Charlie want you to go to the dump? Isn’t the dump stinky?”
“The dump is very stinky,” said Rat Boy. “And Charlie wanted me to help him find stuff at the dump that he could fix up and sell.”
“That sounds like fun,” said Cecilia. “You could have taken me with you.”
“No,” said Rat Boy. “I don’t ever want to ever see you at the dump. That is not a very good place for you.”
“I thought all rats loved the dump,” said Cecilia.
“Just because we are rats,” said Rat Boy. “That doesn’t mean that we have to hang around the dump. Besides, Mother is working hard to provide a better life for us. She would be very upset if she knew you were at the dump.”
“Okay,” said Cecilia. “I don’t want Mother to be upset.”
The next morning, Mother was reading the newspaper. The front page article was very disturbing to her.
“Rat Boy,” said Mother, when Rat Boy came downstairs for breakfast. “A group of boys got into some trouble last night at the dump. Did you know anything about this?”
“It was Charlie and the boys,” said Rat Boy. “He wanted me to go but I told him I couldn’t. I am no longer part of his group.”
“Rat Boy,” said Mother, giving him a big hug. “I am so proud of you. Those boys are in a lot of trouble. I am so glad that you had no part of it. You are a good role model for Cecilia.”
“I want the best for my sister,” said Rat Boy. “I love her.”
“And we love you,” said Mother.