Six Year Old Sin


Hannah L. '21

The day was show and tell. All of the first graders brought in their most-prized possessions to show off to the class. It’s funny: I have no recollection of what I brought, but boy do I remember Berta’s object.

It was a heart-shaped homemade rainbow eraser, gifted to her by one of her friends named like Sarah or whatever: it was smaller than a penny. When I, an unsuspecting six year old, came across this show and tell piece, it was masquerading as trash. Lying on the linoleum floor, covered in dirt in after being stepped on by someone’s sparkly Skechers, the eraser had fallen multiple feet onto the floor below from the fake wooden table that carried the prized possessions of the other children in Mrs. Gilreath’s first grade class.

Ever since I was a young girl, I cared about the environment. In fact, I was so caring that every year out of my two whole years at Pomelo Elementary School I was awarded with the Caring certificate and a matching green pencil. So, I put into place my award-winning value and picked up this extremely small eraser. And then I ripped it into thirteen pieces, picking it apart as I stood next to the door and let the eraser shreds fall into the trash can below me.

In my defense, if you bring something that small to school, you should probably put it in something bigger and labeled. Otherwise, you risk property damage. Why I ripped it apart, I don’t know, but even six year olds can have pent-up aggression.

All was well and good until later that day. I had been enjoying whatever the heck you do in class as a first grader until it was ten minutes before show and tell. That’s when the murmurs erupted as Berta started sobbing. Her eraser was missing.

This was the biggest scandal we had seen all year – the gravity of the situation sunk in when we heard they had canceled show and tell. Mrs. Gilreath commanded us all to open our backpacks as a sobbing Berta stood at the front of the room. As I unzipped my purple rolling backpack with trembling hands, my friend Maya told me that she hoped the person who took Berta’s eraser would get in trouble. I agreed with her. Apparently, so did Mrs. Gilreath: when the search failed to yield results, and the eraser was still missing, she brought in the big guns: the vice principal.

Even through my internal panic I could not help but notice the vice principal’s obvious exasperation with this whole situation. He was merely brought in from his important duties to echo Mrs. Gilreath: he said that whoever took it should give it back, and if they were caught after tomorrow they would be suspended. My heart was beating a hundred miles a minute: I felt like a dirty criminal. 

To be honest, I don’t know why they thought somebody had stolen it: it seems entirely plausible to assume that Berta had just lost it? However, nobody but me seemed to remember that her item looked like a little piece of trash, and I didn’t dare remind them.

Later that night, my father asked me how my day was. I lied and said that I was good, when really I was being crushed by the weight of my unspoken truth and the guilt of a crime I had sort-of committed.

Mrs. Gilreath and the vice principal had alerted the cleaning staff, and the next morning I remember Berta and her friend Kayla asking the janitor if he had seen it. Much to their chagrin but not to my surprise, the janitor told them he had also returned empty-handed. Berta mourned with Kayla over the loss of Berta’s most beloved possession, a piece of trash she would never erase with again. As far as I know, neither Berta nor Pomelo Elementary ever found the culprit: legend has it they still walk free.