The color days started out brightly enough, but they ended darkly for me.
Each student was assigned a color — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, brown, white, gray and pink — and on his or her appointed day brought in a monochromatic show-and-tell display.
Mrs. Gelde culminated the lesson with rainbow day, during which she brought in a collection of rainbow-colored items, including a wind chime, a potholder, a toddler’s set of stackable rings and a roll of Life Savers. After we oohed and awed over her display, it was time for lunch.
The next sequence of events is a little fuzzy for me. For whatever reason, I found myself alone in the classroom. I was getting my lunchbox from the shelf when I heard rustling and crunching noises coming from the show-and-tell table.
There, at Mrs. Gelde’s rainbow display, stood Cammy. Cammy was in Mrs. Wilson’s class, which was adjacent to Mrs. Gelde’s. Cammy wasn’t a bully per se, but she was known for slapping and pulling hair. The official word from the teachers was to stay out of her way and let them keep an eye on her.
But here she was, away from her handlers and eating my teacher’s display.
“Hey, Cammy, I don’t think you should be doing that,” I said.
Cammy looked at me and popped another candy into her mouth.
I decided not to push the matter, so I fled to the cafeteria.
When my class returned from our post-lunch recess, we found Mrs. Gelde on a rampage.
“Who ate my Life Savers? Who did this?” she howled.
I raised my hand.
“Carrie! Those Life Savers did not belong to you!”
“I didn’t eat them, ma’am.”
“Oh, then what did you do with them?”
“Nothing, ma’am. Cammy from Mrs. Wilson’s class did.”
“You are saying Cammy snuck through that door when nobody was looking ate ate my Life Savers?”
“I don’t believe you.”
“But I’m telling the truth!”
Mrs. Gelde grabbed me by the arm, yanked me from my seat and dragged me through the door into Mrs. Wilson’s classroom.
The lights were off and everyone was watching a Disney movie. Crouching beside Cammy, Mrs. Gelde said in a voice so sweet it almost couldn’t have belonged to her, “Cammy, dear, did you come into my classroom and eat my candy?”
Cammy shook her head.
What an outrage. She smelled of artificial fruit flavoring, and there were colorful jewels of crunched up sugar stuck to the fibers of her sweater.
“Carrie said you did. Is Carrie a liar?”
Cammy glared at me and nodded.
“Carrie, do you know what happens to little girls who lie?”
“I didn’t lie, ma’am.”
“There it is again. Another lie. Let me show you what happens to little girls who lie,” she said, yanking me up by my arm and dragging me into the hallway.
I still don’t know what happens to little girls who lie, but I do know that little girls who cross Mrs. Gelde get the spanking of a lifetime. The truth doesn’t always set you free. Sometimes it just hurts.