Ten years ago, I was a spy.
Secret identities, awesome spy gadgets and undercover operations consumed my imagination. This was serious business and l took training seriously.
My brother was Public Enemy No.1. He’d come home and I’d use Mission Impossible stealth moves to follow him everywhere. I’d pick his bedroom door with a nail file and steal his allowance. I’d climb the tree outside his window and take reconnaissance photos.
The proudest moment of my young espionage career was Operation Secret Crate. One Saturday afternoon, Mom drove up with my brother and his friends, who were coming over to play Grand Theft Auto, make stupid jokes and eat junk food. My mission: eavesdrop.
My high-tech tool was a plastic moving crate, two and a half feet square, forgotten behind the living room couch. It had eye-holes big enough for an intrepid spy.
I was small and flexible, but fitting inside that crate was a stretch. Still, the mission was on. Quick jumping jacks and toe touches to loosen the limbs. Squat, knees to chest, crate over head...
Slam! The boys banged through the front door and swarmed onto the couch. Peering out I saw tennis shoes and hairy ankles. My heart thumped so loud I worried it would overpower their excited voices and the hum of the X-Box. The smell of Pizza Hut cheese sticks was in the air.
The moment of truth. Would they notice the girl crouched in the crate inches away?
One minute. Five minutes. Ten minutes. They didn’t notice! Fifteen minutes. Twenty minutes. Still safe. Thirty minutes. I realized the flaw in my plan. l might learn their secrets, but my body was so contorted and aching that soon I might never walk again.
Something had to be done. Something bold, drastic, unthinkable.
I shouted at the top of my lungs, flung the crate off me and jumped onto the couch. They all screamed. The cheese sticks went flying. The coke spilled. My brother, for once, had nothing to say....