Paul had a terrible nightmare.
He woke up late. His alarm hadn’t gone off. He got dressed, but he was trying to hurry and so his arms kept getting caught in his sleeves and his socks didn’t really match. He couldn’t find his shoes.
The stairs creaked as he raced downstairs. “Mom, I’m late! Where’re my shoes?”
John, Paul’s younger brother, was sitting at the table eating pancakes that were dripping with syrup. “You missed out. There aren’t any pancakes left.”
Paul looked around. “Ha ha. Where’s my plate?”
“This was your plate, but I was still hungry.” John ate the last bite and stood to put the plate in the sink. “You’ll have to have cereal. Mom doesn’t have time to make more.”
But, when Paul opened the cupboard, the only cereal box left was the healthy kind that no one wanted to eat because it tasted strange. He closed the cupboard door with a sigh and turned to check the fridge. His socks stuck to the floor. He’d stepped in a puddle of syrup.
“Argh! Where are my shoes?” Paul yelled.
John peeked around the edge of the door. “I fed them to the llama.”
“The one in the front yard.”
Paul raced to the window and looked out. There was a llama in the front yard, eating his shoes.
“Mom! Mom! Momomomommomomomom!”
Mom came down the stairs, putting her hair into a ponytail with a frown. “What is wrong, Paul?”
“John ate my breakfast and fed my shoes to a llama,” Paul said.
Mom laughed. “How silly. We don’t have a llama. We also don’t have time to go look for your shoes. You’ll have to go to school in your socks. John! It’s time to go!”
John appeared next to Paul with a grin. “I’m ready, but Paul isn’t. I packed his lunch for him.”
Mom smiled. “That was a nice thing to do.” Paul was fairly sure that his lunchbox was now full of spiders and earthworms.
At school, John zoomed through the doors and disappeared. Paul couldn’t seem to get through the crowds. Just as he finally walked through the door, the bell rang. He was late. He hurried to his classroom, which was much farther away than he’d remembered, and his socks kept sticking to the floor and making squishing noises with every step.
Inside the classroom, the desks were all full. “Where’s my desk?” he asked.
“We thought you weren’t coming,” the teacher said. “Just go stand in the back of the room for now.”
The class laughed, and Paul hurried to the back of the room, ducking his head to avoid the staring. When he finally looked up, he realized that everyone was dressed in wetsuits and scuba gear.
“Why is everyone dressed like that?” he asked a nearby student in a whisper.
The student whispered back. “Today’s the field trip. Did you forget? We’re going to search for treasure in sunken ships.”
“What?” Paul asked loudly, forgetting all about whispering. “I didn’t know about that! I want to go too!”
“Paul, as you don’t have a field trip form or a wetsuit, you’ll be spending the day in the library copying the dictionary. Why don’t you go there now?”
Paul left the room, chased away by his classmates’ laughter. He trudged down the hall to the library. Halfway there, he pulled off his squishy sticky socks and shoved them in his backpack. His feet started sticking to the floor and making squishy sounds.
Once he finally arrived in at the library, he found a dictionary next to a stack of blank papers. He opened the dictionary and started flipping through the pages. It was blank.
He raised his hand, and the librarian came over. “I’m supposed to copy the dictionary, but there’s nothing on any of the pages,” he said.
“You lost all the words?” the librarian asked angrily. “Well, you’d better put them all back. Here’s a pen. I expect them to be in alphabetical order.”
But Paul couldn’t think of anything that started with the letter a. He kept thinking of words like yak and zebra and zoo and zen. “Can I start at the back?”
“Write them in order,” the librarian said.
He put his backpack on the table with a thump. Maybe he somehow had a dictionary inside that he could copy from. As he dug around in his backpack, his lunchbox popped open. Something dark and covered in eyes and legs flew at his face.
He woke up and sat up with a gasp. Then he looked at the clock. He was late and his alarm hadn’t gone off. He got dressed in a hurry, fighting with his sleeves and socks. He couldn’t find his shoes.
He raced down the stairs. His mom was in the kitchen making pancakes. “Mom! I’m late for school, I can’t find my shoes, and I think I might have a field trip today!”
“It’s summer vacation,” Mom said. “You don’t have school today.”
Paul rushed to the window and looked outside. There was no llama. It had all been just a terrible nightmare.