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Tracey's Temper

Children's Story
Tracey was afraid. They were all playing Truth or Dare, and Tracey didn't know which was worst. The dares were becoming more and more scary, and Tracey didn't want to be part of them. On the other hand, she was terrified of being required to reveal her innermost secrets, for she knew perfectly well all the others would laugh themselves silly.

"Your go, Tracey," announced James. "Truth or dare?"

Tracey hesitated. "Oh come on, Tracey!" cried the others. "What, you scared or something?"

Tracey shook her head. She was even more terrified of being thought afraid than she was of the outcome. "Dare," she said firmly.

"I know," said James, his eyes gleaming. "I dare you to go into the supermarket and get one of those big bars of chocolate."

Tracey frowned. "I haven't any money, you know I haven't."

James shouted with laughter, and all the others joined him. "You don't buy it, you wimp," James explained impatiently. "Unless you don't dare," he added.

Tracey swallowed. She knew it was wrong. She didn't want to steal, she didn't even want to play the game, but these were the only friends she had, and at times they'd all been nice to her. If she refused, they'd just leave her alone, and she'd find herself with no friends at all. Perhaps it wouldn't matter just this once. But what if she got caught? She thought of being arrested, and how her family would feel. She pictured her mother's tears and her father's fury, and she felt very miserable.

On the other hand, everyone did it, and none of them had been caught yet. Tracey had shared some of the spoils herself, racing off to the playing field with the others as soon as the goods had been nicked, and sitting giggling in a corner surreptitiously nibbling stolen chocolate and biscuits. It had been good fun, and felt really exciting, like an adventure. Although even then Tracey had felt deep inside herself that what they were doing was wrong.

But now it was her turn. She felt under a lot of pressure from the others, who were all eyeing her expectantly. But she also felt under a lot of pressure inside herself, from her own conscience. And she felt under even more pressure from her family, almost as though her parents were right there watching her. Suddenly, Tracey snapped. "This is wrong," she shouted angrily. "I'm not going to do it. And I'm never going to join in again."

There was a stunned silence. Then James sneered, "Scaredy-cat, scaredy-cat! You're just a frightened baby, too scared to be one of the gang. Why don't you clear off?"

To her surprise, Tracey faced him. She was still angry. "You're right, James, I am scared. But I still know it's wrong. And if that's the price of being one of the gang, then I'll just have to stay alone. I don't want to, 'cos I like you guys, but I can't steal, even for you. I wouldn't be able to live with myself."

She turned on her heel, and made to walk away, certain she had ruined everything. None of them would ever want to speak to her again, and they'd probably make her life a misery. But to her astonishment, some of the gang moved across to her and stood with her. "We'll go with you, Tracey," they said. "Bye James, see you later," they added.

And deep inside herself, Tracey knew it was going to be all right. Even if she did lose some friends, she'd make new ones. And she knew all the friendships that mattered would survive her anger and her outspokenness. She smiled at her new friends, and they went off together.
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