“Thank you for babysitting your sister for me while I am at work,” said Mother one bright summer morning, while eating her breakfast of leftover toast.
“You are welcome,” said Rat Boy. “Cecilia is easy to look after.”
“Yes,” said Mother. “She certainly is a good girl. She takes after her brother.”
“Thank you,” said Rat Boy. “Mother, what is the point of you working so hard when you are still eating people’s trash.”
“Technically this isn’t trash,” said Mother. “It was never in the garbage.”
“I thought the whole reason you went to work was so we could buy food,” said Rat Boy.
“I guess the rat instinct in me still coming out,” said Mother. “An older gentleman ordered this toast last night but never touched it. I just couldn’t stand seeing good food go to waste.”
“I do understand,” said Rat Boy. “I probably would have done the same thing. I guess once a rat, always a rat.”
“True,” said Mother. “However, that almost sounded like you were ashamed of being a rat.”
“Maybe I am ashamed,” said Rat Boy. “We are nothing more than garbage pickers and we carry a lot of diseases.”
“Rat Boy!” exclaimed Mother. “Don’t you dare talk about us like that! We rats have a bad enough reputation as it is.”
“What good are we to society?” asked Rat Boy.
“I admit that we have caused a lot of our bad reputation ourselves,” said Mother. “However, we are also a very compassionate and caring breed of creature. What is the one thing we do value more than anything?”
“Our family,” said Rat Boy.
“That is right,” said Mother. “We have been known to be even more caring to our families than humans. Look at the way you care for Cecilia.”
“True,” said Rat Boy. “I love my sister with all my heart and nothing will ever hurt her.”
“And,” said Mother. “I feel the same way about the two of you. I would do anything to protect you two.”
“I take back what I said earlier about being ashamed of being a rat,” said Rat Boy. “We do have some good qualities.”
“Yes,” said Mother. “And don’t you ever forget that. Being a rat in this day and age is hard enough as it is.”
“I agree,” said Rat Boy.