Dirty Socks… or Dirty Secrets?

Ugh! I wish he would clean his room more often! thought Maddie as she followed Anthony into the disheveled bedroom. It smells.

She desperately wanted to hold her nose, to block out whatever that smell was. But she didn’t want to offend her friend – or was he an acquaintance? Strange. For the past three years, they had shared most of the same classes at high school, and yet neither label seemed appropriate. Anthony was, well… Anthony; in a league of his own.

“So, why have you brought me here?” she asked.

“Shh!” Anthony hissed. “Mum’ll hear you a mile off. Besides, I already told you: I’ve got something you might be interested in.”

“Okay, let’s see it then,” she whispered eagerly. Anything that might help her figure out who stole her father’s medals was worth every moment spent in that smelly room.

“Close the door and I’ll get it for you.”

Maddie couldn’t figure out why he was so worried about secrecy, but she did as she was told. Then she turned around to see Anthony crawl underneath his bed. She could hear him shifting things so that he could get to whatever he was looking for.

I’m glad I won’t be going down there. It’s dusty enough out here in the open.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Loud knocking on the door startled Maddie.

“Anthony Peters!” Mrs Peters shouted through the door. “What are you up to?”

Covered in dust, Anthony scrambled out from under the bed empty-handed. “I’m cleaning my room!” he yelled back.

Without saying another word, he grabbed Maddie by the arm and pulled her toward the bed. She knew what he meant by this, but she stalled. Why should she have to hide?

Laughter filled the air. Maddie shivered. She sounds like Cruella de Vil. 

“Cleaning your room? I can’t believe it! Show me your progress.”

“Just let me fix up a couple of things,” said Anthony, glaring at Maddie, “then I’ll show you.”

There was nothing for it. Cringing, she got down on all fours and crawled underneath the bed. She lay there on her stomach, trying to breathe. Ugh! It stinks even worse down here. It didn’t take long for her to find the source of the stench. Among the random items pushed against the wall, there was a cardboard box stuffed with dirty socks. Well, that’s just great. 

Maddie could hear him rustling and rummaging around. A moment later, she could see his bare feet as he approached the bed.


She craned her neck so she could look up at the bed. Through the metal bars of the bed frame, she watched as Anthony’s hands tucked the ends of his blue sheets underneath the mattress. I’ve never watched a bed being made from this angle before.

“You can come in now!”

She heard the door open. “Well,” Mrs Peters remarked, “you’ve made your bed. That’s a start, I suppose. But what have you really been doing in here?”

“I told you; I was cleaning.”

“Nonsense! I can’t remember the last time you cleaned anything. And the only time you ever close your door quietly is when you don’t want me to know what you’re doing. So spit it out!”

Anthony didn’t make any reply.

Mrs Peters seemed to change her tack, for she spoke softly now. “Ever since that man had his medals stolen, you’ve been acting stranger. More secretive.” There was a pause. “Tell me the truth. Did you take them?”

“What? No, of course not!” he retorted.

Something in his tone rang untrue in Maddie’s ears. But why should I suspect him? He said he had something down here that could help me. Why would he say that if he were the thief? No, thought Maddie with a shake of her head, it doesn’t make sense.

“Then what are you hiding from me?”

“Nothing, I swear.” Anthony’s voice quivered.

Anthony? Afraid? Her heart pounded. I wonder what Mrs Peters will do if she finds me here. I may never get another chance to find out what Anthony was going to show me. She decided to have a look for herself… quietly.

She heard Mrs Peters make a sound of exasperation. “I wish you would stop getting yourself into trouble.”

Maddie wriggled closer to the stuff along the wall. There was a pocket knife, a stack of letters bound with a rubber band, a money-box, and a packet of cigarettes. Not many cigarettes left. Yuck! I hate the smell of cigarettes. Speaking of smells. The sock box was the only thing left to search. Holding her nose with one hand, she started removing the stinky objects from the box.

“Look! You’ve been on my back everyday, trying to get me to clean my room. And now that I’ve made a start, all you’ve done is accuse me of stuff. I’d appreciate it if you’d leave me in peace!”

“Fine, I will. But don’t talk to me like that ever again. You hear?”

Bang! The door was slammed shut.

When the last sock was laid on the carpet, Maddie looked into the box and gasped. There, in the very bottom, lay all three of her father’s stolen medals!

He did steal them! But why would he want to show them to me?

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