What is life without trials and tribulations?
I can still remember Miss Claire Babin’s face way back when I was six and in the first grade. She was one of those important people in my life. She showed me that it was not the end of the world to covet your neighbor’s goods – even though according to my brothers I had broken one of the Big Ten!
It all started with the color brown. Our uniforms were brown skirts, white blouses, brown beanies, and of course my mother got me a brown sweater, brown shoes and socks and a brown book sack to match. To this day, I shun the earth colors!
Anyway, first graders are not renowned for their memories, so the “lost and found” box in the class room was always full of erasers, pencils, bags, and various articles of clothing left over from “accidents.” On Fridays, Miss Claire would hold up each article to be claimed by its owner. On the particular Friday in question, after an unusually long parade of pencils and erasers, she held up the most beautiful pink sweater and asked, “Whose is this?”
Well, a quick glance around the room told me the owner wasn’t present or wasn’t paying attention. I looked down at my brown desk and slightly raised my left forefinger. Of course, Bryce Moreland saw me and yelled out, “It’s Pat’s sweater!” There was no turning back now. The deed was done. I thought for sure Miss Claire would know from my pounding heart that it wasn’t mine.
I stuffed the ill-gotten goods into my book sack and headed for the bus. Guilt and fear rode home with me as I tried to figure out what to do with the sweater.
Once home, I raced into my room and threw the beautiful thing behind my dresser. I prayed that no one had seen me do the foul deed.
But I was wrong. Chach, my oldest brother, knew his colors, and he certainly knew mine. He told.
Daddy said I had to tell Miss Claire the sweater wasn’t mine.
The trip back to school and the walk up the steps to the class room were hollow ones that echo in my memory. I can still see Miss Claire’s face when she opened the door. And because of her, pink is still my favorite color.