When I saw lipstick all over The Hippie's footboard, I realized one of the three dozen children is a criminal. All the fun stories left my mind, and I lusted for answers--turning into the ultimate detective! I needed to figure out who'd vandalized, but how could I do it? Each one of them looked more innocent than love.
As the children left, I studied each one. Their pigtails bounced and bobbed. The children hugged me and laughed.
One girl held an advance copy of my fantasy book under her arm. "I'm reading it for the second time," she said. "It makes me wish I was a mermaid." I deemed her innocent at once! Of course a book lover wouldn't vandalize--and even if she had, that's the only child I'd forgive.
So, all the girls left and Cade came home shortly after. "What in the heck? Who did this? Who wrote "sky" everywhere?" he barked after seeing The Lipstick Bandit's work.
I cluttered into the room with my husband and four children. The Zombie Elf smiled. Doctor Jones cooed. The only two people who looked uncomfortable were The Hippie and The Scribe.
"I think one of our girls did it," Cade said.
Not them. Not my darlings.
The Scribe piped in, "But there were a lot of people here. It's not likely it was one of us. Plus, do you know who that lipstick belongs to?"
"Who?" I asked.
The Hippie raised her hand. "It's mine. I traded for it. I just got it yesterday."
"Maybe it was The Hippie," The Scribe said.
"Maybe it was The Hippie," The Scribe said.
"Who'd you trade with?" I asked The Hippie, happy to be the lead detective on such an important case. I finally had my first clue and I wouldn't blow a thing!
"Sophie," she said. "It was Sophie's lipstick."
"Was it new when you got it, or used?"
"It was used. She traded it for my silly bandz collection. Those are really out of style now."
"Very interesting." I thought hard.
So little Sophie. She sure pulled off the innocent routine, but that kid doesn't like reading, and most felons don't. Sure she's five, but it still meant something for my case. Heck, I went to visit someone in prison once and when I asked him about Jane Eyre, he said, "Who's that? Who's Jane . . . Air?"
I nodded to The Hippie. "Thanks for your cooperation. You've been really helpful."
Cade gave me "the eye" and that rookie grabbed a notepad from the shelf. "No. Don't think you're getting off that easy." He passed a paper to each of our girls. "I want you to both write the word 'sky' on your paper, then we'll see where to go from here."
I watched the girls. They wrote exactly the same as each other AND the writing on the footboard. I paled, then glared at Cade. That rookie! Why is it, when you're the lead on the case, someone is always rooting for your job? I've seen it a million times in books and on TV. I just never expected my own, sweet husband to try stealing my thunder.
"One of you girls is the culprit," I suddenly said, stepping in front of Cade. "It's a good thing this rookie did what I've been thinking about doing all afternoon. We'll get to the bottom of this."
They went to bed and I turned to Cade. "Nice try, Pacha." Because that's what I call him when I'm mad.
"What did I do?" he asked.
"You tried to take the lead. You tried to figure out the case?"
He laughed. "You crack me up. But what did you expect me to do? You didn't even think it was one of our kids." He jumped into bed. "What I don't understand is why they'd do it. Plus, they're writing is the same. How are we going to figure this out?"
So he'd admitted it. That graphologist! He needed me to take up where he'd left off. I smiled at him since he'd pronounced himself a rookie. I guess I couldn't judge him for helping with the case. After all, even Sherlock needed a second pair of eyes sometimes.
"Leave that to me. I know where to go from here," I said.
The next day, I woke up and made the best breakfast ever. While the girls both had huge mouthfuls of eggs and pancakes, I dumped some falsehoods on them.
"I didn't want it to come to this, but there's something I need to tell you."
They stopped chewing and just stared.
"Daddy installed cameras in every room of this house. They record all your actions, everything you do. He has the videos from yesterday, and he'll watch them tonight after work."
Both girls swallowed. "We want to know who The Lipstick Bandit is. This has gotten serious, really serious. Now, if the bandit confesses, and admits to everything before Daddy watches those videos, then the bandit won't get walloped. But if they wait and Daddy has to see it on a video . . . well, they might be in trouble for a very long time."
I sat there, studying my oldest girls.
They looked at each other, their little siblings, then me. I thought it wouldn't go anywhere, until The Scribe suddenly screamed out, "Fine! It was me!"
My heart dropped into my butt. So it was one of my children, and I'd accused poor Sophie. I tried harnessing my anger, and I turned politely. "But why did your handwriting look just like The Hippie's."
The Scribe adjusted her fork and looked at me. "I made her write the word 'sky' earlier. Then, later when she'd forgotten about it, I took her lipstick and wrote on her footboard."
"Why? Why did you want her to get in trouble?" I asked because good detectives and mothers always need to know the motive.
"Because she got me in trouble earlier yesterday. Do you remember when she fell on the ground and said I kicked her?"
"Yeah." Of course I remembered. The Hippie had been screaming in pain.
"Well, I didn't kick her, and you didn't believe me. So I paid her back. The only problem was, you never blamed her. You thought it was someone else."
The case was closed, but it didn't feel as good as I'd hoped. It sucked convicting my own child.
Plus, another one of my brilliant theories went down the drain. I found The Lipstick Bandit, and she loves to read. Some of my theories really are crap.
But on another note, how do I deal with this? Have your kids ever blamed each other for things?
At least my girls think we have hidden cameras everywhere. They've been playing detectives, searching for cameras, and getting along as they go. They're a bit freaked out, but a little excited as well.
There's only one problem now; The Hippie just lost her favorite toy and The Scribe said, "Don't worry. Daddy can watch the video and see where you lost it. Right, Mom," she asked. "Right?"