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Something to Think About
- What theme or themes did “The Backpack” have?
- Describe a time in your life when someone was in your house that you didn’t invite. How did you handle the situation?
- What famous story or character does Ben remind you of? How about Mark?
- What questions did you ask yourself as you read “The Backpack”?
“The Backpack” by Aimer Boyz
Benjamin was more interested in his fish tank than the adults having coffee with his parents. He didn’t know them, or their son, Josh and he wasn’t good with strangers. It took him a bit of time to warm up to people. He wasn’t like Mark. His brother would talk to anyone.
Ben didn’t pay much attention as Mark and Josh exchanged vital statistics like age, grade, and video game scores. He watched his aquatic frogs race each other up the side of the glass tank, only turning from their underwater competition when his brother tore out of the room. Seconds later, Mark was back, his new backpack slung over one shoulder.
“It’s got eleven pockets,” Mark said, dropping his backpack to the floor, and squatting down in front of it. “See, two on each side,” he said, turning the bag to display the silver mesh pockets.
Ben had already seen Mark’s bag, they’d picked out new backpacks together on a getting-ready-for-school shopping trip that morning, but he wandered over to watch the show & tell.
“One in front,” Mark said, sliding the technicoloured zipper on the front pocket open, “and one in back.” He slipped a hand into the envelope-style pocket on the backside of the bag. It was empty. All the pockets were empty, as was the backpack. School didn’t start for another week.
“Five inside.” Mark continued his demonstration, unzipping the backpack so that Josh could see the interior. “That’s eleven. Ben’s has nine.” Mark looked up at Josh, a big smile on his face.
Ben’s backpack was black with a blue shark on the front. Lots of scary white teeth. He thought about getting it from his room and showing it to Josh, but Josh wasn’t smiling. He was smirking. Ben stayed right where he was.
Josh laughed and pointed at Mark’s bag. “You have a girl’s bag.”
Mark’s smile fell off his face, a chipped and broken thing. His eyes as empty as his backpack, Mark zipped the bag closed and stood, his prized bag cradled in his arms.
“That’s so gay,” Josh added, still laughing.
Ben examined the bag in his brother’s arms. It was white with gold and silver stars all over it. The metal zipper on the front shimmered in a rainbow of metallic colours. Ben didn’t see what made it a girl’s bag. He liked stars too, but he liked sharks better. And bags couldn’t be gay. He might only be six years old, but Ben knew that things weren’t gay, people were. Like his aunt Lena and her wife, Carol. They were gay.
Ben turned his attention to the jeering Josh. Older than Ben, older even than Mark, Josh had never been in their house before. He wasn’t a friend of theirs and Ben decided he didn’t want him to be. “That’s not nice,” he said, moving to stand at Mark’s side.
His brother could be annoying sometimes. Most of the time. He thought he knew everything, and when their mom wasn’t around, he called Ben stupid. He poked at Ben’s arm in the car and stole his French fries when he wasn’t looking. Plus, he was way faster on his rollerblades than Ben was. But Mark helped Ben with his reading. He drew pictures of Ben’s favourite fish for Ben to tape to his bedroom wall. He helped Ben tie blankets to their bunkbeds to turn them into a fort.
Mark was his brother and Josh didn’t get to laugh at him.
Ben stepped between the two older boys—and yelled, “MOM!”
Contact Aimer Boyz
- Website: https://aimerboyz.com/2022/05/21/too-far/
- Twitter: @boyzbooks.
Please take some time to check out Aimer’s link.