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"Crime And Punishment"

There's something about a dark rainy day. 
Ordinary lamplight can make the drabbest room seem cozy, 
by contrast to the glowering world outside. 

Nearly forgotten ghosts of the past crowd in to get out of the weather, 
and talk over old times. 

Miss Scoltic, your sixth grade teacher, brushes by 
on her tour of inspection, 
leaving the scent of her perfume behind. 
She sits at her desk now, facing the class. 
Her all-seeing eyes study you from behind slightly tinted spectacles. 
Somehow she knows you haven't done your homework, 
but she asks just the same. 
Adrenaline streaks through your veins as you mumble your futile lie: 
"I left my paper at home." 

"Go home and get it", she says with no expression. 
You glance from the lighted schoolroom to the dark rain 
outside the big windows, 
and then cast a pleading look at the teacher. 
She's busy writing on a paper. 

Outside now, 
the rain slapping against your hooded slick raincoat 
and running down your face, 
you are in big trouble! 
You can't go home and tell your mother or you'll be in a deeper jam! 
Besides, there's no homework paper there. 
And you can't return to school without one, that's for sure! 

Sheets of rain blow down and hurry along the overflowing gutters. 
You notice your feet are wet. 
Oh, No! Your good shoes! 
Your rubbers are back in the cloakroom at school. 

Rain and steam cover your glasses 
as you re-enter the classroom a while later. 
Water drips from your nose and chin, 
and your spongy footwear leaves a trail of wet mud. 
You've decided to plead guilty 
and throw yourself upon the mercy of the court, 
but when Miss Scoltic looks up from her desk and says, "Yes? 
you panic and another lie rushes out: 
"I couldn't find it?" 
With a question mark. 

You are sentenced to two thousand years 
of listening to the big clock punctuate the silence 
of the principal's outer office. 
The principal looks up from her work and sees you waiting. 
She ignores you 
and turns her attention back to those endless papers on her desk. 
A couple of eons later, she says: "Come in, please., 
which is probably what the Indians said to Custer. 

Fighting desperately to keep from going to pieces, 
you cling to your stupid story. 
The principal knows, the teacher knows. and you know. 
Still, you insist upon running like some kind of a dumb rabbit 
into the oncoming headlights. 

They let you off, probably thinking you've suffered enough, 
but it must be still bothering you. 
Why else would it come up now? 

Anyway, the shades of yesteryear are gathered here in your room 
on this stormy afternoon, 
so maybe it's time to come clean. 
Okay. This is it: 
I spent the whole day down at the depot watching the trains, 
and didn't even pick up a book. I'm sorry I lied. 
2. I'm sorry I lied. 
3. I'm sorry I lied. 
4. I'm sorry I lied. 
5. I'm ................. 

Copyright  June 23, 2001 by Jack Blanchard. All rights reserved.

 

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