When I saw the picture for this week’s FANDANGO’S FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE, I thought of a real life experience from my past. The picture reminds me so much of my brother’s bedroom. I remember committing an act of theft and to make matters worse, I followed that with an outright dishonest lie of denial. I was only around five years of age at the time. I still remember it thirty years later!
It all started when I went into my brother’s bedroom. Now I was very aware of the rule that my parents had set. We were not allowed to go into my brother’s room without his permission (a rule that had been made after previous invasions). But I broke this rule and crept into my brother’s room.
I was fascinated by my brother’s belongings. He was eight years older than me. He was a very good artist. He had these little bottles of ink and tubes of gouache on his desk. I could not resist playing with them. I also found his magnifying glass and played with that until I was bored. Then I noticed next to the lamp on his desk there was some money. I took it. It was not a huge amount, perhaps £2 or £3. I slipped out of my brother’s room before I was discovered, thinking that I had got away with it.
Some time later, I heard a sound that always made me and my sisters excited. I rushed to my parents and asked them of we could have an ice-cream from the ice-cream van which was playing it’s song in the street outside. My parents said not this time. Then I asked if I could go and buy one for myself with my own money. They asked where my money had come from.
I lied, “I found it.”
“Where did you find it Mel?” they asked.
“It was on the floor outside.”
“How much did you find Mel?”
I told them how much I had and I could see my brother shooting looks at my parents. They did not react. They started to ask me if I had been painting that day. Well, I did not have any paints. There were paints at school, but we did not have any for us little ones at home. So I told them it was my felt-tips. I should have known right then that I had been caught out.
“Mel…have you been into your brother’s room?”
“Noooooo!” I fibbed again! My brother looked so cheesed off. But he waited for my parents.
“It’s just that when your brother went into his room a while ago some of his inks for painting had been spilt on his desk and chair and on the carpet. There was also paint on the handle of his magnifying glass. Is there any possibility that you might have been there – just for five minutes?”
Then came my denial, “It wasn’t me. I didn’t go in.”
“There was some money missing from his room as well.”
…well, I couldn’t bear it much longer. I came clean. I admitted that I had been in my brother’s room and took the money. It took me longer to admit that I played with his inks though.
I remember vividly how my parents tried to reach my heart in their effort to help me understand why what I had done was wrong. I remember their patient way of sitting down and asking questions to determine how much we understood our own actions and whether we appreciated why what we had done was wrong.
I am so glad that my parents did help me to reason as a very small child on what was right and wrong. When I had done something that was wrong, they helped me to understand why it was wrong. They helped me to see that I had a choice: would I repeat my action? or next time I had the opportunity, would I choose to shun the wrong thought that had come into my head? They helped me to see I could learn to control any wrong thoughts or desires, and that there is a special happiness from choosing to do the right thing. I learnt that life is so much happier with a good conscience. An inner judge that says “Well done Caramel, good girl!”
Even though it is not fiction on this occasion, this was my response to FANDANGO’S FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE:
Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #48