Monday, February 26, 2018

Trading Places

Trading Places
                                          By Valerie L. Egar

            Matt yawned as he got ready for bed. “Gosh, I wish I didn’t have to go to school tomorrow!” He looked at his Labrador Retriever, Jasper. “You have the life, staying home all day. You ought to go to school!”
            As Matt pulled the covers under his chin, he stared at the full moon glowing outside his window. “I really wish Jasper and I could trade places, just for one day.”
            When Matt awakened, he was surprised to find himself stretched out on the carpet, with paws instead of hands and feet. He shook his head and felt his ears flop back and forth. He looked in his bed. A boy who looked like him was asleep. He nuzzled the boy and woke him up. “Jasper, is that you?”
            Jasper sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Matt?”
            Matt realized his wish had come true. Jasper looked like him and was going to have to go to school. He looked like Jasper and was in for a day of lazing around on the couch. Oh, this was going to be fun!
            “Matt! Breakfast!”
     Jasper fumbled his way through getting dressed, since he’d never worn human clothes before. He was anxious to go downstairs for breakfast. Eggs, bacon, toast. Jasper gulped his breakfast in seconds flat and asked for more.
           “Matt! Where are your manners this morning?”
            “I’m really hungry,” the dog turned human replied.
            The real Matt wagged his tail and circled the table. He was hungry, too.
            “Jasper! Stop begging. Eat your Dog Crunchies.” Matt looked at Jasper’s bowl. Ick. He might look like a dog, but dog food was disgusting. He nudged his best friend who was on second helpings and looked at him with his big brown eyes. He was grateful for the slice of bacon Jasper slipped under the table.
            “I saw that,” said his sister. “You’re not supposed to feed Jasper at the table, Matt!”
Soon the house was empty. Mom and Dad left for work and Jasper and Matt’s sister got on the bus to school. Matt wandered the house. He was still hungry, but he couldn’t open the refrigerator. Mom hadn’t left anything good to eat on the counters. He was thirsty and looked in Jasper’s water bowl. Yuk. He took a few quick laps and reminded himself to wash Jasper’s bowl more often when he turned back into a boy.
            He couldn’t turn the TV on or play video games. Matt looked out the window and watched squirrels.  Squirrels were interesting. He started to think how much fun it might be to chase one. Wait! That’s what Jasper would think. Matt felt confused. He jumped on the couch to nap. Being home all day with nothing to do was boring.

         Meanwhile, Jasper was having a hard time at school. Sitting at a desk for a long time without moving was almost impossible. He’d seen police dogs that could stay in one position patiently, but that wasn’t for him. He stared out the window. A white cat walking across the playground caught his attention. “Look!” he shouted. “A cat! I see a cat!”
            “Matt,” Ms. Bevins said, “What is the matter with you? Quiet, please.”
            The only thing Jasper liked about school was lunch. Sheila ate her sandwich and left the crusts. “Do you mind if I eat those?” he asked. Sheila wrinkled her nose. “If you want them, go ahead.”
            He finished Jana’s yogurt and half of a ham sandwich Jayden didn’t want. He bent to pick up a piece of cookie that had fallen on the floor, but caught himself.  Humans didn’t eat things off the floor. Too bad for them.
            By the time Jasper got back home, he was tired of being human. “Except for the food, going to school is awful.”
Matt wagged his tail. “Being a dog is boring. I can’t wait to go back to school tomorrow.”

            Both of them went to bed early, anxious to change back into boy Matt and dog Jasper.  One day of trading places was enough.
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Copyright 2018 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author. 

Published February 25, 2018, Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME).

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