Who hasn’t ratted a sibling out at some point or another (you might not even know that you’ve done it)? You probably don’t even think about it. What’s the psychology behind it, really? To curry favor? Or do we just enjoy getting people in trouble? That feeling of control in a chaotic world. Anyway you look at it, it happens. Tattle Tale is a story about just such an event. It doesn’t have the answers but it’s a story not a Wikipedia entry. Did I just snitch a little?
Tattle Tale by Amanda Rothbauer
We crept up the stairs, making sure not to walk on the creaky floorboards that would make some noise and lead Slate’s parents to believe that we were up to no good. We weren’t going into Mary’s room with the purpose of messing things up or stealing anything; we were just two six-year-olds with the belief that anything Slate’s older sister touched was something we wanted to touch too.
Slate led the way in shimmying by the chair where his nanny was snoring. When he army crawled passed his dad’s bedroom, I did the same. I let slip a little giggle when he pranced like a ballerina to cross the arch that led into his mother’s busy office/“temporary bedroom”. He shushed me quickly, with a fear of waking his babysitter, or disturbing his mother hard at work, or interrupting his father’s business call. But I could tell he was just joking by the smile on his face when we finally reached her door.
The door. Ah! that 10-foot-tall, vanilla ice-cream colored door. The knob turned without a sound, but I was worried about that little click when the door opened, and the squeak of the hinges too. I still thought we’d get caught. Slate was not afraid like I was; he barged in. He ran into the clutter, jumped on the canopy bed, shuffled through the letters on her desk, fumbled with the trinkets on her shelf, and slipped on her dirty laundry.
He stopped. We stood. He crouched down. We looked. He grabbed. We contemplated. He examined those black panties, with lace around the edges, which wouldn’t cover much. They looked just like the ones that my mom had hidden from me. Once I found them, she told me that they were only for women with husbands.
He took. I watched. He sprinted. I followed. He told. I gaped.
Their parents were furious. Mary hadn’t done her sole job of being innocent (and hiding everything else).
They spoke. They questioned. They yelled.
Lyle Rosdahl, a writer living in San Antonio, edits the flash fiction blog & best of in print for the Current. He created, facilitates and participates in Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a monthly flash fiction response to a photo. You can see more of his work, including photos, paintings and writing, at lylerosdahl.com.
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