Never Ever, or an Alarming Gap in Memory – Valerie Hunter

Charlotte sits on the bottom stair,
small legs swinging, as her sister
sets the box of crayons beside her,
right within reach, all those tempting
rainbow points. Ella’s face, close
in hers, insists: “You must never
ever crayon on the walls.”
Charlotte nods seriously.
Never ever.

Afterwards, Charlotte sits on the couch,
small legs swinging, as her sister
helps their mother scrub the scribbles
from the wall. “Charlotte was a bad, bad
girl,” Ella insists, and Mom just sighs
and scrubs, while Charlotte quietly panics.
What has she done? Surely it hadn’t
been her who scribbled on the wall,
never ever, never ever.

Years later, whenever this family anecdote
is mentioned, Charlotte simmers in silence,
suspecting she was framed. At the very least
she knows she was tempted into it,
given the crayons and the idea.
She never completely trusts Ella again,
but never quite fully trusts herself, either,
because of that gap in her memory
filled with nothing but a rainbow of scribbles.

Valerie Hunter worked at her college library as an undergrad, where she occasionally read the new acquisitions when she should have been shelving. She now teaches high school English and maintains a classroom library with a sadly low circulation rate. Her poems have appeared in publications including Wizards in Space, Room Magazine, and Last Girls Club.

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