I felt sick to my stomach ever since recess. The boys had been teasing Carrie and throwing her Smurf thermos. Playing keep-away. Danny catapulted it to me.
But dads didn’t usually teach girls to throw or catch in 1982.
I could not catch it.
Carrie, sobbing, mad, said I did it on purpose. And ‘boy will there be trouble when you get home. My mom is gonna call your mom.’
The irony being that if I actually could have caught her precious blue thermos—I would have given it back to a crying Carrie.
That afternoon, I hid out of sight to grownups in a little crook made by the breakfront, listening. The phone rang a lot. The first time, my heart pounding, I sussed out it was my grandma from the way my mom talked.
Pain deep in my belly as the phone rang again. Wait, it sounds like her friend. Pam?
I worked on what I would say when the call came. ‘Carrie always gets me confused with the other kids’? Or ‘It couldn’t have been me, I was reading my new Cam Jansen book by the swings’?
The third call, my stomach in my mouth, mom with that super-polite voice she puts on for strangers. This was it. Carrie’s mom was a stranger. I peered around the corner.
It was just the dentist’s office.
Carrie’s mother never called. But I had my answer figured out.
‘I never even touched Carrie’s Smurf thermos.’
It was true.
Susan Hatters Friedman is a psychiatrist. Her recent creative writing can be read in Hobart, JMWW, and 100 Word Story.