I love Mama Kat's Writing Assignments and then blending it with Thousand Word Thursdays. It really gets me thinking. The week the prompt that got my brain to percolating was:
#4. You can go back to your childhood for one day. What day and age do you choose?
I instantly jumped back to a fall day in 1976. I was 12 years old. We had moved from Oklahoma City to a tiny little town here in Kansas. I believe it had about 200 people. I became the paper girl that fall and had over 80 papers to deliver.
This little town had a beautiful old schoolhouse that had been closed a couple of years before. All the small towns were closing down and consolidating districts. Our bus driver, Mr. Jennings, was caretaker for this building and lived just next door.
One day, the 'gang', pretty much all the kids that lived in town, were playing over by the schoolhouse when we noticed that the back door was open that led into the gymnasium. We peeked in and were just so tempted to play in it. I wandered off a bit from the rest of the group when I found myself face to face with a man I hadn't ever seen before. He told me that he was staying over at the Jennings's house and it was fine if we wanted to go in and play for awhile.
I happily scampered back to the gang and let everyone know the good news! Off we went. We played basketball and dodge ball. We checked out the kitchen, which still had pots and pans in it! The classrooms still had desks and chalk and erasers. It was like a dream come true. This was the best way to play school ever! In a full stocked actual school house.
A couple of hours into this perfect play day, Mr. Jennings stopped by and was not very happy at all! He made all of us leave the school house, scolded us big time for making a mess and wanted to know WHO had said they could play in there. The kids parted as if they were the Red Sea and I was left facing Mr. Jennings.
I quickly told him about the man that had given us permission and he wanted to know more. What did he look like? Where exactly was he? Where had he gone? My brain just froze, I didn't know what he looked like, he was just a shadowy kinda guy. I was marched over to my house and my parents were then updated on the situation.
I was a good kid. I took care of my little sisters. I did what I was told. I was well-mannered. I told them about this man I had seen and talked to. I told them that he was a black man and I didn't know where he had gone after he talked to me. He had been standing in the shadows of the trees and so I really hadn't seen him that well, plus he had a hat on.
My dad drove around the small town looking for anyone out of place. No one had seen anyone unusual and certainly not a black man. (For a small town of 200 white people, he would have been noticed.) They came back to me and I could see confusion, uncertainty and skepticism in their eyes. They were beginning to doubt my story. They talked to me.
Mom: "Shawn, tell us again EXACTLY who you saw and what he said."
Mom: "He was standing where?"
Mom: "And you didn't get a good look at him because he was in the shadows and had a hat on hmm?"
Finally, I broke and all my words came out in a tearful rush.
Mom: "So, no black man?"
Me: "No. Idon'tknowwhyIsaidthatI'msosorryI'msosorry."
I was so ashamed of myself. It was the first time I had told a lie of this magnitude. The entire town knew I told a lie. My parents were embarrassed as well. To this day, I can't believe that I made up some mystery man and then turned him into a black man to take the fall.
If I could go back in time, I'd go back and NOT tell this lie.
(Later on, I'll have tell you about how I got really good at sneaking out and lying as a teenager though! hehe)