The little boy slipped into his idolized older brother's room.
"I'll just fly it once," he said to himself. "Just once, that's all." After all, there was no harm in flying a model plane just once, was there?
Five minutes later, the model airplane his brother had spent weeks putting together lay on the sidewalk, wrecked. Even if he could fix it, it would be too late for him to enter the contest, and next year, he'd be too old.
The boy was sure that his brother would never speak to him again.
"And when Dad finds out what I did, I'll be grounded for the rest of my life," he thought. " Well,there's just one thing for me to do now."
The older boy came home about two hours later, and headed for his bedroom. He wanted to look at that model airplane he was going to enter in the contest; he wasn't sure he liked the way he had painted it. But the airplane wasn't on the shelf where he had left it; it was on his desk, smashed. There was a note next to the wreck.
The boy unfolded and read the note.
"I'm running away because I broke your airplane. I'm sorry. I'll send you the money for a new one as soon as I can. Please don't hate me."
"That little idiot," the boy muttered. "Thinks he can just run away? Just wait until I get my hands on him."
The little boy just kept walking, walking, walking. He had taken his money with him; he knew he would need it for carfare. Or should he hitch-hike? Of course, he wasn't allowed to hitchhike, but when you are running away, the rules don't matter any more.
Then again, what if he thumbed an unmarked police car?
"That would be just my luck," he thought. "If I got taken home by the police, I'd really be in trouble."
But as the boy kept walking, he passed a hobby shop. A sign announced that their model airplane kits were on sale at a special discount.
"Maybe I have enough money to get one right now. Maybe I don't have to run away."
He hurried inside, and went to the "Model Airplane Kit" section, but he didn't have nearly enough money to buy a kit, even with the discount.
"I'll never have enough," the little boy thought despairingly.
And then, he had an idea. He knew it was wrong, but, just this once... A few minutes later, the child was heading towards the exit, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.
The older boy was just about to go look for his little brother when the phone rang. He picked up the receiver.
"Hello," he said.
"This is Mr. Fiske from Fiske's Model Shop," said the man on the other end. "Is your father in?"
"I'm sorry, Mr. Fiske, but he isn't," the boy said. "Can I help you?"
"Well," said Mr. Fiske, "I'm afraid we have a problem."
The boy asked, "What's wrong?"
"It's your younger brother. We caught him shoplifting."
"You caught him doing what?"
"He tried to walk out with a model airplane kit; the same one you bought last month for the contest."
"Mr. Fiske, is it all right if I come and get him?" the boy asked.
"Ordinarily, I'd rather let your father handle it, but since you are one of my best customers, I guess it'll be all right."
A half-hour later, the brothers were back home.
"I'm really sorry," said the younger boy.
"You should be," his brother said. "Of all the dumb stunts to pull!"
"I didn't mean to break your airplane, honest I didn't."
"That's not what I'm talking about," his brother said. "Sure, you shouldn't have touched it, but that was no reason for you to do that other stuff."
"You mean running away and," the little boy hesitated, "trying to steal that kit?"
"Yeah, and leaving me that stupid note. Do you think I could ever hate you?"
"But I ruined your chance to win the contest."
"To heck with the contest," said his big brother. "Do you really think a contest matters more to me than you do?"
"Are you going to tell Dad what I did?" the little boy asked anxiously.
"No," said his brother. "This will be our secret. Just promise me you won't ever do anything like this again."
"I promise," said the little boy, "and thanks for getting me out of trouble."
"I'll always get you out of trouble," the older brother promised, "and I'll always look out for you."
"No matter what?" asked the younger boy.
"No matter what," the older one said solemnly. "After all, you're the only brother I've got, and I love you."
The little boy threw his arms around his brother's neck and said, "I love you too, Grant."