The Rat was not good at all. When the children at Grayson Lake Elementary reached in to feed him, he snapped at their fingers. When they had a little trouble with fractions, he sneered. And he often made cutting remarks in a low voice when the teacher was just out of earshot.
Emmy was the only one who heard him. And even she wondered sometimes if she were just imagining things.
One Wednesday in May, when not one person had seemed to notice her all morning, Emmy asked to stay indoors for recess. “I have spelling to study,” she explained to Mr. Herbifore.
The teacher, hurrying out after his class, didn’t look at her as he nodded permission. At least Emmy thought he had nodded…
“Thank you,” said Emmy. And then she heard something that sounded—oddly—like a snort. She looked at the Rat, and he snorted again. He was scowling, as usual.
“Why are you always so mean?” Emmy wondered aloud.
She didn’t expect the Rat to answer. She had tried to speak to him before, and he had always pretended not to hear.
But this time he curled his upper lip. “Why are you always so good?”
Emmy was too startled to respond.
The Rat shrugged one furry shoulder. “It doesn’t get you anywhere. Just look at you—missing recess to study words you could spell in your sleep—and the only thing that happens is, you get ignored.”
Emmy looked away. It was true. She didn’t want to tell the Rat, but she didn’t mind missing recess at all. For Emmy, recess was a time when she felt more alone than ever.
“The bad ones get all the attention,” said the Rat. “Try being bad for once. You might like it.”