The Secret

The Secret

The Secret

Unedited Short Story by Jacob Thomas

Did you know that keeping secrets can be super-duper-difficult to keep? And there are such things as psychics?

One morning my pancake syrup stained t-shirt wearing little brother ran out of his room and down the hallway like he was having a one-person race. He was carrying a toy model airplane he called Quincy – like Quincy Battlefoot, the famous fighter pilot that had ever lived. He was Jackson’s favorite hero in the whole world. You could take him to see a superhero movie but he will always say Quincy is his favorite on planet Earth!

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I, however, Rilee, two years older than little Mr. pancake-syrup stain, walked down the stairs (and without falling this time) and to the kitchen where breakfast was waiting.

“Mom! Grandma and Grandpa are not going to like it when they’re here tomorrow,” said Rilee.

“They’re going to think an earthquake is coming through the roof.”

“You know your brother – as long as he’s not breaking anything, you will leave him be,” said Rilee’s mom.

That was her mom’s way of saying she doesn’t have the energy today to chase him around the house. I don’t blame her because I don’t either. And dad has already left for work so there was only us to wrangle him like cattle.

Rilee looked at the clock on the wall; they both only had twenty minutes to be outside and catch the school bus. She scarfed down her pop tart and orange juice before getting her school clothes on. They both took the same bus.

“Jaaaaaccck” she called out from the bottom of the stairs towards his room upstairs.

“We have to leave!”

He didn’t answer back. She quickly climbed the stairs and opened the door to his room where she found him gluing together with another toy model airplane.

“Hey, stink! We have to go now!” Rilee reminded him.

“I know, I know! I’m just trying to get this piece glued before we go” Jackson replied.

Once he was focused on something like a television show or a new craft, it was almost impossible to get him away from it.
Rilee sat down on his bed as she waited for him.


She heard a snap and a pop!

She was sitting on something you wouldn’t normally leave on her bed.

With Jackson’s back turned, she stood up enough to see what she sat on.

OH-NO!! she screamed quietly in her head.

“He’s going to kill me!”

Her worst fears confirmed!

It was everything she hoped it wouldn’t be.

Rilee sat on and broke ace fighter pilot – the man, the legend, Quincy Battlefoot in his now also busted-to-pieces Bell P-39 fighter plane.

Rilee & Jackson both step off the bus at Lake Pleasant Elementary. She walks Jackson to his first classroom before going to her homeroom – lucky number 7. But it had an “A” next to it, too, so it had to stand for “Awesome”. Rilee didn’t feel so awesome, though. She felt like the biggest, evilest villain in the world. Like the nasty old Red Baron from Jackson’s favorite book. Only she didn’t have a weird, thin curly mustache. She even thought about drawing one on with her marker.

Mr. Cranberry, Rilee’s teacher, took attendance like always. Talked about some kind of fun fact which was not always “fun” to her as Mr. C likes to put it. He started talking about chipmunks. Rilee never cared too much for the chipmunks in the tree outside her home.

“Every fall, chipmunks store up on acorns and other foods to prepare for the winter,” her teacher said to his classroom. Rilee couldn’t hear a word he was saying as every other word was interrupted by the thought of accidentally breaking her brother’s favorite toy in the whole wide world.

“Chipmunks like to slowly break acorns down so they are easier to eat,” her teacher went on.

Rilee quickly sat up straight in her chair and focused on her teacher.

Her leg shook up and down as if she was nervous.

No! This was the beginning of a panic attack.

Of course, Rilee felt super-duper terrible about breaking her little brother’s favorite toy in the whole wide world. But she didn’t know what to do. Should she tell him? It was an accident, after all.

Suddenly, Henry, the usually quiet kid asked a silly question. Henry knew it was a silly question because almost the whole class began laughing at it.

“Silly question, but if a chipmunk breaks an acorn, could it be put together again with silly glue?” asked Henry.

“Now, now, class, settle down,” Mr. Cranberry said to all the kids laughing.

“There is no such thing as a silly question, Henry – remember that” he assured him.

Mr. Cranberry was usually good like that.

Rilee thought about asking her teacher for advice on what to do but felt uneasy.

This is the kind of stuff you keep in your head she thought.

The final bell rang and both Rilee and Jackson were on their way home from school.

“Why is the bus going so slow today?” she asked her best friend Sam.

“It’s going the same rate of speed like always, you goof,” said the wisest, glasses-wearing kid in her neighborhood.

Rilee leaned her head on the window and watched the trees, then the cars, shops, and other houses pass by. A not-so-happy feeling built up in her stomach the closer the driver came to their house.

When they both made it home, Jackson, like always, ran as fast as he could into the house and up the stairs to his bedroom to play pretend with Quincy.

Before she could even get to the front door, she heard him screaming so loud it made the neighborhood dogs bark.

Rilee felt like she was about to be sick to her stomach.

Jackson ran down the stairs sobbing, snot hanging out of his nose.

“M-my p-p-puh-P39 b-broke,” he said while fighting back the tears.

She couldn’t let him find out it was her who sat on it and broke it into several pieces.

“What did you do, Jacks?!” she yelled trying to hide her guilt.

“It was on m-m-my bed just fine before we left for s-s-school,” he continued crying.

Rilee’s heart felt like it was sinking to the bottom of the ocean. She didn’t know what to do or how to break it to him that it was she who broke it. She quickly began thinking of as many ways as possible to keep it from him. After all, it’s not like she could hide away like how chipmunks do.

Or could she?

Rilee didn’t like the cold but she knew how to build herself a campfire. Her best friend Sam taught her at summer camp last year. She would do anything to get out of telling him it was her. And that meant hiding away in the forest forever.

Later that night, Rilee and Jackson sat at the family table for dinner. Jackson carried the broken pieces of Battlefoot’s airplane with him from his room. He kept his head down, barely eating his favorite dinner: macaroni stroganoff. Mom always made that for him every time he was really upset. And tonight he was super-duper upset.

The next day, Sam & Rilee sat next to each other on the school bus. Sam could read her like a book. That’s one of those fancy things adults say when they know another adult is upset without saying it. And Rilee had a lot to be upset about.

“Promise me you’ll keep it a secret?” she asked Sam.

“Like, a double pinky swear!”

Sam (by the way is short for Samantha – probably should have said that earlier), knew it was something super-duper serious if she was asked to double pinky swear.

“Spill” she whispered as she double pinky swore.

Rilee told her everything. The break, the crying, the butterfly’s wrestling inside her stomach.

“Just tell him the truth; it was an accident.” Sam said.

“Accident or not, Sam, I’ll be, like, grounded to Antarctica until I’m old and grey!” said Rilee.

“You know I hate the cold!”

“Yeah, every year you ask Mr. Grouch to turn on the heat when everyone else is still in a t-shirt and shorts,” Sam laughed.
Sam was of no use.

She had to find some clue as to how to get out of being grounded to Antarctica.

A lightbulb went off above Rilee’s head!

“I’ll talk to Ms. Penny!” she yelled. Almost all of the kids on the bus stared back at her and Sam.

Ms. Penny loves crafts and toy houses. Every year she builds a huge miniature village in the computer lab. She could ask her for some clues & ideas.

It was lunchtime at Lake Pleasant Elementary. She and Jackson had the same time for lunch on Wednesdays. His friends were showing their toy planes but not Jackson. She busted his favorite plane in the whole wide world. Remember?

Rilee needed to do something and quickly. She hated seeing him upset but she also didn’t want to tell him it was her.

Lunch was over and class after class came and went.

Rilee held her arm up, waving it around for Mr. Cranberry to notice her.

“Yes, Rilee?” asked Mr. C.

“I accidentally left an assignment in the computer lab when I was at lunch.” She was not an expert liar whatsoever. She just needed to get a reason to go see Ms. Penny who could possibly solve all of her problems.

“Make it quick.” Mr. C replied.

Did it work? She thought to herself.

She didn’t wait one more second before dashing out of the classroom like how Jackson does almost every morning coming out of his bedroom and down the stairs.


Ms. Penny answered the computer lab door. Ms. Penny is a stout old lady with thick glasses and curly white hair. She always smelled of fresh-baked cookies, too, which always made her stomach rumble.

Rilee gave Ms. Penny a second-by-second account of what happened. And how terrible she felt about keeping it a secret from her brother. He may be a snot-nosed brat sometimes but he was her brother. She hated seeing him upset.

“Well, my dear, just ask your parents to take ya to Mr. Wooly’s on 8th street,” Ms. Penny said. “They have all sorts of toy model airplanes.”

Rilee began feeling a little better.

“They even might have Quincy Battlefoot’s famous P39 airplane.”

Now Rilee began feeling excited.

The final school bell rang – Rilee, Sam, and Jackson rode the bus back to their neighborhood together. But Jackson was still looking gloomy. He caught Rilee smiling a bit, though. She was trying to contain her excitement that she just might not get in trouble after all.

Her smile didn’t last long because she forgot one BIG detail.

How was she going to ask her parents to take her to the craft shop, Mr. Wooly’s without seeming suspicious? Where was she going to get the money for a new airplane?

They must cost like….hundreds of dollars I bet she thought to herself.

“Mooooom?” Rilee called out to her mom like usual to let her know they made it home from school each day.

“Can we go to Mr. Wooly’s?” asked Rilee.

“I want to go there to get brat-face a new airplane”

“Well that’s mighty nice of you sweetheart.” said her mom, acting surprised.

YES! It’s working! Her plan was coming together smoothly.

“It’s nice of you to get him a new airplane after you sat on and broke little Battlefoot.”



Rilee stood in the kitchen, silent. Her jaw nearly touched the floor.


“Us moms know all and see all,” her mom continued.

“But….how?!” Rilee asked.

Rilee and her mom were talking in a real low and hush tone because they didn’t want Jackson to hear what really happened.

“If you came to us sooner, you wouldn’t be in as much trouble as you are in now,” said her mom.

Rilee didn’t like how that sounded. She was already beginning to imagine packing up all of her stuff in her bedroom to move to Antarctica and stay there till she was old and gray.

“Antarctica can’t be too bad, right?” she thought to herself.

It has penguins. Maybe she could make friends with the penguins and become their new queen.

“We’ll take you to Mr. Wooly’s but only after you do YOUR entire list of chores and your brother’s, too.”

Being the frozen queen of all penguins in Antarctica was starting to sound better and better.

One by one, Rilee completed all the chores off her list and his, too. She became sourer and mean with each one she completed.

Rilee fell asleep in the car ride to Mr. Wooly’s Crazy Crafts store.

When she woke up, she saw her grape jelly stained t-shirt wearing brother smiling, holding a brand stinking new P39 airplane for his super-duper and most favorite hero in the world – Quincy Battlefoot.



Ridgeline – Part 1

Short Story Written by Jacob Thomas

Eoin sat alone along the ridge at the turn-around point of the Sunset Trail. He stared out across the valley towards the setting sun, silently wishing his year-old daughter was doing well with her mother. Looking back, he couldn’t help but wonder what else he could have done to make things work with her mother.

The sound of laughter from two young kids with their parents coming up on the turn-around point broke his train of thoughts. A moment later, Eoin began making his way down the mountain with tourists and locals alike.

Behind the courteous yet half-hearted smiles flashed as he passed by, he couldn’t help but wonder whether their lives were as trifling as his own. 

A beautiful woman a short distance ahead lead the way. Quietly, Eoin hoped to find any excuse to strike up a conversation. Would he find any relevance from her as compared to his own life?

After all, Eoin was not looking for a woman to replace his daughters’ mother, but perhaps to find a sense of belonging once more.

Well, that was a waste, he thought to himself – now only a few steps away from his car.

Before he left the mountain in a cloud of dust behind him, he put a playlist on labeled “Depression”.

“Maybe next week,” he whispered as the music began to play.

Maybe not.

Eoin’s daughter, only a little over a year old now, is soon being dropped off at his place for the weekend.

And he couldn’t be happier.

The Traveler

The Traveler

The Traveler

Short Story Written by Jacob Thomas

Twelve years ago, I decided to step into a journey around Europe. I was but a youthful and reckless boy and I didn’t care much for my father’s legacy as a mill worker in Aberdeen. I wanted to see the world and I was sure it was within my grasp. That day I was sitting on a bright, freshly painted white bench with an embedded green placard that bore a tribute to a man of which I had never heard. It was with little musings I entertained myself as I waited for my train ride to the coast. There wasn’t much else to occupy my time for all the loud hustle and bustle of the train station.

“Train 36 to the coast will be delayed by one hour. Apologies for the inconvenience,” came the booming voice over the public announcement system.

“You’ve got to be joking” I muttered.

“Well, no sense in taking a nap now,” I thought to myself. I remembered the station being known for pickpockets and unscrupulous characters.

I decided to stroll around the mini-market that was all the station had to offer to pass the time. As I made my way down the red brick arch like hallway, I noticed a large bright red banner that read “Book Fair” inside a small rounded book store.

“Now this is where I belong,” I thought to myself.

The decadent vanilla scent of the paper of hundreds of books begging to be held and read through began to rush through my nostrils sending my heart into a state of excited palpitations.

The lonesome familiarity was suddenly interrupted by a couple of overly excited young women dressed in sundresses rushing through the forest-green trimmed doors leading into the small bookstore.

As I approached, a young stout African-American boy stepped outside seemingly on a mission.

“Book Fair today, one day only!” he shouted repeatedly, attempting to draw in new customers.

The sweet scent was already enough to grab my attention and pull me in.

Inside the store, the shelves and tables were beautifully laid out making for easy browsing. Out of the corner of my eye, my dearest genre caught my attention. A brown yet dusty shelf boar to my left, studded with a brown marker displaying the title “Science Fiction/Mystery”.

I ran my fingers along the bounds of each book as I moved from left to right eyeing each title. I couldn’t choose. Some bindings were inlaid with gold lettering and some inlaid with softer tones slowly succumbing to age. However, among my weary browsing my eyes came across a peculiar book with no lettering on the binding nor covers. I quickly noticed the book had not been touched by age nor was the book new. It was small, visibly stressed and read by others. Something had urged me to pick up the book.

“Find everything you are looking for sir?” asked the gentle store keeper.

“Hmm, yes thank you. However, might I inquire about this book? The bound and covers are bare.” I pointed out.

She took the mysterious book from my hands and rested it in hers. Quickly, I noticed her skin and the lack of lining on her hands. I became captivated with her glowing yet fair complexion comparing it to that of smooth silk. Her bright red hair suggested Celtic descent. Instantaneously, her beauty possessed my soul. And during that possession I realized her expression of keen knowledge of the book in question.

“Sir?” she questioned softly.

“Oh, yes….uh…thank you very much.” I replied flustered, attempting to regain any composure I had left.

During my stir, I noticed she had quickly become aware of my flustering. Her body language spoke of a familiar experience on several occasions yet left hints of a slight mutual attraction. Her seemingly soft lips added to attraction behind her smile making my heart feel as though it was melting.

This feeling was absolutely foreign to me. Experiences like this are a luxury being raised behind high brick walls and strict school rules. Father would burn my hands for straying like this; a small-minded man he is.

“Let me know if there is anything else you need help with.” she suggested softly as she moved to other customers.

“Train 36 will be arriving in 30 minutes. Please prepare to show your ticket upon boarding. Thank you for your patience,” the booming voice called out over the PA.

“Bollocks!” I thought to myself.

I had wanted to continue to browse through this one-day-only book fair yet my attention had seemed to be all but wasted basking in the store keeper’s beauty.

I quickly placed the mysterious book in my brown leather messenger bag and began to make haste towards the cashier.

“Have a wonderful day sir!” the cashier called out as I rushed through the green doors.

The young African-American boy was still outside chanting his repeat message, a job well done attracting new folks.

“Oi, you sir! Smitten over Lady Maggie are you?” the boy inquired with earnest.

“Excuse me young fellow?” I responded, quickly turning to face him.

“Believe in fate sir? Chance encounters? I saw the look in your eyes,” he gleefully revealed in amusement.

“What is it to you?” I asked.

“With what you carry sir,” the boy riddled.

I looked upon the boy with confusion and yet I was intrigued by his words. I was at a loss of words myself and no matter how much I tried, still I was unable to speak. A rush of thoughts and sentences flew through my mind baring a small headache above my left eye irking me to find the nearest pharmacist and quickly.

As I walked away from the boy and the small book-fair taking place, the boy continued his familiar chants like a broken record. And like a broken record, I grew tired of the noise from the crowds plaguing my head. Luckily, the oddly shaped town-center was nearby with a square map resting on a pillar on a corner pointing the way to the nearest pharmacist.

“With what you carry sir,” filled my mind. The pounding in my head felt like a rail worker laying a new track hammering in the nail to keep it in place.

With the medicine acquired I returned to the train station. I had lost enough time.

The train began to make its way from the station. What I saw next shook me to the core.

The small boy was standing at the south end of the train station resting against the wall. As I passed, he tipped his grey English racing cap as if not to say goodbye but as if to implicate he will be seeing me again.

Such lost mannerisms.