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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Drama · #2077966
Story about being accountable for your actions
Abigale swept the last of the shattered fragments into a dustpan and drew a heavy sigh. She checked the wall clock, and then shifted her attention to the boy wedged into the far left corner of the living room with his back to her. His brown curly hair looked like a rats nest gone wrong and the part of his orange shirt tail hung out from the hem of his grey ill-fitting trackpants.

“Three minutes,” she announced sternly. “Sixty seconds to go.”

“Feels more like five,” the child grouched “I’ve been here like forever.”

“Well it’s only been three. You should think yourself lucky you’re only getting a timeout.”

“It was already broken when I got here.”

“There is no talking during timeout, Fenton. You’ve had more than enough of them to know the routine by now: back straight, arms by your sides, feet together, nose touching the wall and nil by mouth from start to finish. Three minutes gone sixty seconds to go. Time restarts now.”

“That’s not fair,”

“No talking during timeout. Three minutes gone sixty seconds to go. Time restarts now.”

Abigale’s resolve weakened slightly as she heard her nephew starting to cry. Instincts urged her to comfort him in his distress but the more rational part of her mind warned her from such a mistake, at least until he had completed his timeout, taken responsibility for the breakage and shown genuine contrition.

She hated having to be strict with Fenton yet she knew it was for the best. Lenience would only lead to the disappearance of more and more ornaments. He needed to learn that when she told him not to touch something that she meant it and to expect unpleasant consequences if he chose to disobey her instructions.

“Thirty seconds,” she affirmed, hoping to calm him slightly. “Fifteen…ten…five, four, three, two, one. Okay your timeout is over sweetheart.”

“That w-was a long f-four minutes.”

“Come here.”

Abigale carefully placed the dustpan and half brush down on the carpet and watched stolidly as he approached and stopped short of her.

“I didn’t do it, Aunt Abby.” he stated sheepishly, staring down at his blue slippers. “Honest I didn’t.”

“Then how did it get broken?”

“It fell off the shelf.”

“And how did it fall off?”

“I dunno…it just fell.”

Crouching down to his level, she placed two fingers under his chin and lifted his head up until his misty green eyes were parallel with hers.

“It’s never okay to tell lies, sweetheart. Lying only makes things worse…look, I’m not going to spank you or anything. I just want you to tell me the truth.”

“Kitty jumped onto the mantelpiece and knocked it onto the floor and it broke…sorry Aunty, I just didn’t want to get it into trouble.”

“Gadget was in the kitchen with me when I heard the crash…try again honey, and this time the truth.”


“Don’t be silly…last chance to tell the truth without fear of punishment.”

“Bogeyman pushed it off the shelf.”

Another sigh made its way out into the open. She felt disappointed with Fenton’s lack of accountability. Was she really that much of an ogre that he should feel it necessary to avoid admitting that he’d transgressed?

“Do you know what crystal is made of?” she asked, trying a different approach.

“No,” he replied, absently shrugging his shoulders.

“Normal glass is made from sand, soda-ash and limestone, but crystal is slightly different because it contains a special ingredient…do you know what that ingredient is?”

“I dunno. Chris-antha-mans?”

“No, not Chrysanthemums. It has dust…but not the ordinary dust you see around the place but Pixie Dust.”

“Pixie dust?”

“Pixie dust is what makes it sparkle in the light and holds it together, like a sort of glue. Once anything made of crystal gets broken dust particles fly into the air.”

“And is that dust bad for you?”

“Not really, but once released it make its way to a secret place called Naughtinia and reports the accident to Queen Tanya Gudenard who in turn releases the Batterflies to deal with the person that was responsible for the breakage.”

“What are Batterflies?”

“Batterflies are large butterfly-type creatures, with long leathery wings; similar to those of bats. They choose a time when the person who broke the crystal object is least expecting then attack. They swarm about in all directions, swatting the culprit with their wings again and again until they have gotten a confession and apology.”

“And they’re going to get me are they?”

“Unless you own up to the ornament’s breakage before they reach Naughtinia, Tanya only releases them on those who refuse to take responsibility. If you own up to breaking the ornament I’ll give her a ring and tell her to call off the Batterflies, if not then you’ve only got yourself to blame.”

“That’s not fair. If I tell you I broke it you’ll punish me for sure and if I don’t the Batterflies will give me a hiding. You’ve already made up your mind that I did it and won’t allow me to tell you otherwise. You don’t trust me do you? I’m a naughty. lying clumsy little brat.”

Abigale’s heart melted at the sight of a lonely tear trickling down Fenton’s left cheek. This was not the response she had planned or factored into. She had only wanted to encourage his honesty and in by doing so had inadvertently implied that he was guilty until begrudgingly excused from a well-deserved reprimand by an orchestrated litany of lies. Taking innocence out of the equation seemed, as the boy had said “unfair”.

“You are none of those things sweetheart. I do trust you and love you very much and I was wrong to doubt your innocence. The truth is I never actually saw you drop or knock over the ornament. If you say you didn’t do it then I believe you.”

“You really mean that?”

“Even murderers get the benefit of the doubt. Only you, God, the Pixie Dust and Batterflies know what really happened and if you are innocent then you’ve got nothing to worry about…now it’s getting late dear, go brush your teeth and get ready for bed. I’ll be up soon to tuck you in.”

‘It’s too early to go to bed. I’m not even tired.”

“It’s almost seven fourty five and I promised your parents I’d have you in bed by eight thirty at the latest. Time you started getting ready for bed, Master Fenton.”

“But I’m not tired; can’t I stay up just a little bit longer? Please.”

“To do what?”

“Read the bible,”

“You could read the part about honouring your mother and father. Disobeying their bedtime rules is hardly honouring them, is it Fenton?”

“They’re out of town. How are they going to know what time I went to bed?”

“Because I’ll tell them,”

“Go ahead. It’ll be your fault.”

“My fault?”

“They’ll think you have no control over me.”

“No control? I’ll show you control if you don’t start getting to bed.”

“You cannot control me.”

“Don't be cheeky, Fenton."

“No control.”


“Still no control.”


“Still no control.”


“I laugh at your pitiful attempts to control me.”

Abigale abruptly removed her fingers from his chin. She stood upright and snatched Fenton’s upper left arm, then marched him back to the timeout area.

“You can laugh here to your hearts content,” she grumbled as she ushered him into the corner. “Four minutes Fenton. Time starts now!"

Next - Fenton and the Dusty Particles Part 2

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