Hello, all! It's Water Balloon here, with my second story! I'm sure there are tons of grammatical errors, so please feel free to mention that in a review or a private message. And if you would like to make any suggestions, please do so! Thank you :)

The Problem With Secrets

"What?" I call downstairs as I switch off my CD player that's playing some Jack Johnson.

"I said can you help me make a sandwich?" Max yells.

"Sure," I say and I walk downstairs. I see Max sitting at the kitchen table with his face in his hands and dark brown curly hair flying every which way. He's only nine but has a lot more knowledge on the world than I do. But he can't make himself a sandwich. I know.

"Had a long day?" I ask as I take out some Wonder bread and peanut butter. He nods and launches into a story about some bully in his class.

"I mean, tell me Macy, who says something so heartless like that? It's so hateful. I can't help it if I have glasses!"

I bring his sandwich on a plate and set it next to him. I kneel down so that my face and his are on the same level. "Remember, Max. 'Be who you are and say what you feel, because the people who mind don't matter and the people who matter don't mind,'" I say, using one of my favorite quotes from Dr. Suess.

He smiles faintly and looks at me. "Thank you, Macy. I really appreciate it." After a pause, he asks how my day was.

"Ahh… I guess the same old-same old. Nothing new, nothing important." But that is far from the truth. Mrs. Harvey, my math teacher, gave us back our first quarter exams and I passed with a D. I'm not too eager to let anyone know about that, especially Dad who is strict on school-matters.

"Oh… so do you have any homework?" Max inquires.

"Yes… Just some math stuff. What about you?" I ask mostly to change the direction of the topic. In truth, I've got more than "just some math stuff."

"Well, no homework. But I have some extra credit to do."

"Yeah, right. I'm sure you don't need any extra credit!" I exclaim as I give him a quick kiss on the cheek and run up the stairs to start my homework.

Once I'm in my room, I start my Jack Johnson CD again and am suddenly calmed down when I hear his calm, sweet voice sing out "But you don't… Always… Have to hold your head… Higher than your heart! You better hope you're not alone…"

Not many people have heard of Jack Johnson before, but he is hands down my favorite singer.

I look at myself in the mirror and grab an elastic to put my red curls up into a bun. "Okay," I say to myself. "Let's start history homework!"

History homework consists of explaining my thoughts on why Switzerland is considered a neutral country. It's not too much of work, but I really hate history. Actually, I hate school. I understand, we are supposed to learn so that we can "excel in life" (this comes straight from my principal), but the career I'm choosing doesn't need any variables or verbs in it. I want to be an abstract artist.

In fact, I painted my room and Max's. Yes, the walls look a little messy (but very unique), and the only reason Dad agreed to let me is because we're a little tight on money. So now, my walls are the lightest green you can find, and covered in bottle caps. Yes, bottle caps. I'm working on covering all of the walls, but I only have one of four done. The bottle caps on that one wall are arranged in swirly patters and other shapes.

Now, Max likes things to be in order. He asked me to paint his room baby blue. I of course obeyed his request, but I also added my own little touch by swirling some leftover paint from my room with his blue at the bottom of his walls. They look amazing. See? I'm a natural at art.

But anyway… back to history.

"Hey, Daddy," I say as he walks through the garage door. He pushes his glasses to the top of his head and rubs his eyes and sighs.

"Hi, Macy. I had a horrible day at work today."

My dad works as a dental assistant at Dental 101. He makes me and Max floss each night, and he always brings back really cool breath mints and whitening gum from work. This is why we Taylors have the best teeth.

"Oh, what happened?" I ask.

"Some stupid lady decided to bring her three year old in for braces."

"What? Dad, that's insane!"

"Yes, I know. So I told her 'Ma'am, we can't do that. You should wait another seven years.' So she got really mad and went to my boss, Michael. Michael tried to get her through logic, but she just would not back down. Then she started crying, saying that she only wanted the best life for her child. Eventually, we got her out of the place. But God, that lady gave me a headache."

"Wow," is all I manage to say.

"Yeah. So how was your day?"

"Fine." Why is everyone interested in my day?

"Any homework?"

"A little, but it's all done."

"Good, then. Where's little Max?"

"I think upstairs. I'll go get him so we can have dinner."

I find Max in his room, reading a book on astronomy. Yes, Max is in love with astronomy. For his birthday, I made all the planets from clay and let them dangle from his ceiling. He, of course, made me rearrange them in the right order and put them the right distance apart, but he loved it.

"Hey, Max. Dinner," I say.

"Oh," he says, looking up from his book. Max gets up and walks out of his room. The phone rings and I'm about to go answer it, but it stops ringing which probably means that Dad answered it.

Downstairs, we find Dad filling up three plates with leftover take-out pasta from yesterday while simultaneously talking on the phone. "Yes, yes I'll tell her," he says into the phone and then hangs up. "Macy?"


"Mrs. Harvey called saying that there are some extra credit opportunities to pull up any low grades so far."

I choke on some pasta. "What? She called? Okay… so what else did she say?"

"She said to get these extra credit assignments tomorrow in homeroom."

I cross my fingers, hoping that Mrs. Harvey didn't say anything about a certain low grade.

"Well, naturally, I asked Mrs. Harvey why she was calling us, because before this school year started, you promised me that you would try your hardest to keep your math grade up," Dad says.

Oh, no! Here it comes…

"So she answered saying that she was calling everyone in your grade."

That was obviously a lie. She wouldn't call all 300 students in the tenth grade. So I guess Mrs. Harvey was saving me. Well, I definitely owe her a thank you plus some good grades.

Math homework. You and I are finally alone. And only one comes out alive…

So now, I must define a bunch of geometry terms.

Aha! I know what an acute angle is. An angle that is less than ninety degrees. Acute triangle. I know what that is, too.

I finish up the A's, B's, and half of the C's before I get stuck. Concave. What does that mean?

And then it becomes clear to me. I must get a tutor.

Dad is a fun person, and he can really entertain you with funny stories from Dental 101. But there are two things you don't want to get him started on: dental hygiene and school.

So if I go up to him and tell him that I've fallen behind in math and that I really need some help, the first thing he would do is scold me for having fallen behind in the first place. The next thing he would do is act like I'm really dumb and explain everything to me very slowly. And if I still didn't get it, he would lose his patience and scold me again for being in this situation.

This is why I decide to Google up some tutors in the Charlotte area. I punch in the number for a guy named Krishan Patel. Apparently, he's the same age as me and is in AP classes. That's the whole reason I settled on him. People my age tend to explain stuff better.

The phone rings twice before it's picked up.

"Hello?" a deep, male voice asks.

"Umm… Hello. Am I speaking to Krishan Patel?" I inquire. I pronounce his name Kri-shawn Patt-ell, because that's the way it looks to me.


Shoot. "Oh, I'm sorry. I must have dialed the wrong num-"

"You are speaking to Kri-shin Putt-ale," he interrupts.

Oh. I pronounced his name wrong. Couldn't he just have corrected me nicely instead of making a big show of my mispronunciation?

I feel my face burn. "Oh, sorry, Krishan," I say, making sure I said his name correctly. "I'm Macy Taylor, and I go to Bluefield High School. I'm calling to see if…"

Suddenly, I'm ashamed to ask for his help. I barely know him, and yet he has made me feel below him.

"Actually, never mind. Have a good night. Goodbye." I'm about to hang up, but his voice stops me. It's as blank as ever.

"Macy. Would you like me to tutor you in the math area?"

I have to actually pull the phone from my ear, stare at it, and then move it back. "Umm… yes?"

"Great. We start tomorrow. Bring your work. Here's the address…"

Krishan gives me an address that I jot down on a sticky note. "What time should I meet you there?"

He considers a moment, then responds: "Six thirty. Six thirty to seven thirty. Okay?"

I say it sounds good.

"Wonderful. We can talk about the money then, too. Good night."

I politely say good night and then hang up, but inside I'm panicking. MONEY! How had I forgotten about money? I can't simply ask Dad for money; he'll want to know what I need it for. And I don't have any money myself; I lent it all to my best friend, Georgia.

Quick as I can, I dial Georgia's number and ask if she is ready to pay me back.

"Sorry, Macy. I only have five dollars I can give you right now."


"I really am sorry."

"I know, I know," I sigh.

"Okay, how about I pick you up at six fifteen, since his place is only about fifteen minutes from here. You can tell your dad that you'll be out with me or something," Georgia says after a pause.

Yes, I don't have my driver's license. I've taken the test three times, and failed each and every one. This is why if I ever have to go somewhere, I call upon Georgia.

"Really? Thank you so much! This means a lot to me," I say into the phone.

Georgia laughs and we say good night and hang up.

Krishan Patel and Mrs. Harvey, here I come.

So that's it for now... I'll see where this goes, and hopefully I'll have the second chapter posted up soon. Thanks for reading and please leave a review!