“Don’t cry, Sarah.” said Mattie. “I know you didn’t do it.”
“Yeah, but Miss Stone and everyone in the class thinks I did.”
“The class was snickering and rolling their eyes, and you should have seen Mindy. She had this smirk on her face!”
I couldn’t stop sobbing.
We walked in silence the rest of the way home.
Gramma was fixing dinner in the kitchen. Between sobs, I tried to tell her what happened. Ebony, the cat, gave me a quizzical look and scooted under the table.
Gramma listened, then wiped her hands on her apron and gave me a hug.
“Sarah,” she said, “when you are wrongly accused, you have to take a stand. Teachers can make mistakes sometimes.”
After dinner, I washed my swollen face and got ready for bed. I climbed into bed and pulled the quilt over my head. I was not looking forward to Monday.
I tried to go to sleep, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the book.
“Now I know how someone feels when no one believes them,” I said to myself.
I remembered the time Danny Simms punched Jimmy Myers in the nose because he wrongly accused him of taking his bike. But I sure couldn’t punch Miss Stone in the nose! For some reason, when I pictured that, I started to giggle and couldn’t stop. I guess it was nerves. Finally, I fell asleep.
Monday morning I waited for Mattie on the porch. I spotted her red backpack about a block away.
“Hi,” she said, “Do you feel better?”
“Yes, I do,” I replied.
We walked the two blocks to school and I told her what I had decided.
“Cool!” she said. The bell was ringing as we ran up the steps. Mattie went to her class, and I went to mine.
I walked into the classroom and Miss Stone was already at her desk. All the kids were in their seats. My heart was beating so loud, I was sure everyone could hear it. My face was beet red, but I didn’t care. I knew what I had to do. I marched up to Miss Stone’s desk and looked her straight in the eye.
“Miss Stone, I did not take that book!”
She gave me a surprised look.
“Sarah, I know,” she said gently. “The book mysteriously appeared on my desk this morning. I owe you an enormous apology. I think I know who is responsible, and I hope they come forward. You know, teachers make mistakes sometimes, too.”
As I walked to my desk, I glanced over at Mindy, but she wouldn’t look at me. I could see that now her face was beet red!
The class got real quiet.
“Is there someone who would like to say something to Sarah?” said Miss Stone.
Slowly, Mindy got out of her seat and went up to Miss Stone’s desk.
“Miss Stone, I took the book because I was mad that Sarah didn’t choose me to be on the science project. I’m sorry.”
“Tell Sarah!” said Miss Stone. Mindy looked at me and I could see a tear dribble down her cheek.
“I’m sorry, Sarah.” she said.
I knew it was hard for her to face the whole class and admit what she had done. I guess that was punishment enough.
“O.K., Mindy,” I said.
I couldn’t wait for the last bell. I had to tell Mattie.
“Cool!” she said.
We skipped all the way home.