Brussel sprouts were not tiny cabbages. Mommy had tried to fool her, but Zoe knew better. It made her feel angry that her mommy had tried to trick her and angrier still that her mommy had made her eat three of them anyway.
That was why Zoe decided to run away.
In the middle of dinner, she announced her plans so Mommy would know how serious she was about never eating brussel sprouts again.
“Well,” said Mommy, “it sounds like you’ve got your mind made up. We’d better go pack.”
Zoe led the way down the narrow hallway into her room, where she began to fill her favorite red backpack with all her toys.
“You’ll need more than toys when you go out on your own,” Mommy said.
“What do you mean?” asked Zoe.
Mommy pulled out Zoe’s favorite soft, white sweater from the closet. “It might get cold at night,” she said.
Zoe took the sweater from her mommy and stuffed it into her backpack.
“I’ll pack you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, too,” said Mommy,” in case you get hungry while you’re out there.”
Zoe removed all her toys from her backpack one by one, realizing she had to make room for the necessesities. It made her sad to think she had to leave Layla, her prettiest doll with the polka dot dress. She would miss her fire truck, so shiny and new, but it was too heavy to carry with her. And her marbles with their brilliant swirls of color made too much noise when they clinked together. They’d have to stay behind, too.
“At least keep Teddy,” said Mommy. “It’s important to have a friend with you, especially when you’re on your own.”
Teddy took up a lot of space in her backpack, so Zoe would only have room for him, the sandwich and her sweater. She zipped up her backpack, and her mommy gave her a kiss.
“Good luck out there,” said Mommy with a wink and a smile. “Your room will be waiting when you want to come home.”
Zoe took one last look around. Her walls glowed a warm yellow that made her think of sunshine. Her bed looked messy, just like she liked it, fluffy covers everywhere. Her drawings that she had made in school, of her mommy and her daddy and herself, stared back at her from her desk in the corner. She would miss her room. She would miss home.
“I think I’ll finish dinner before I go,” said Zoe.
She finished everything on her plate, even the two lonely brussel sprouts left behind from before. Zoe had to admit that even with brussel sprouts, home was a nice place to be. So after dinner, instead of running away, Zoe went to her room and put Teddy back on her bed, right where he belonged.
A girl discovers there’s no place like home.