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When I was in the first grade, I would sometimes do mischievous things. They were little things like blaming my older sister for things that I did or messing up my mom’s photos by smudging them (yeah, she was pissed). Yet, there is one specific thing that almost cost lives of others and could have resulted in extreme consequences.
I almost burned down a school.
It was 2005, and the elementary school I was attending was brand new. It opened up in 2005 so we were the first, first-grade class that Mrs. Thompson had at this elementary.
Throughout the school year, I would always hang out in the corner where all the books were. I would be reading with this other kid named TJ since we loved to hang out on the bean bags. It was a time where boys had cooties so being in a corner with a guy full of books was totally okay.
Also, in this corner, there was Mrs. Thompson’s tall plastic plant. It had cool leaves and I starting yanking them. I yanked one. Then another. Then TJ yanked one and gave me an idea.
“This is so cool, I wonder how it’ll look burnt!” he said.
“Oh, that would be cool!” I say as I place one of the leaves on top of a burning hot lightbulb in a lamp nearby.
We waited by reading and started to smell combustion. Pretty much the whole classroom smelled like burnt plastic. TJ and I checked the leaves and it was starting to light up but it was also really black. I started getting nervous and the moment I saw smoke and red (OMG fire), I blew on the black leaf, grabbed it (I burned my two fingers), and threw it away in the nearby trash can. No one noticed.
TJ didn’t say anything and went straight to his desk. I went to my cubby and was starting to tear up.
“What’s wrong?” Brooke asked. She was another girl in my class that I thought was being a good friend at the moment.
“Nothing. I can’t tell you.”
“Yes, you can. I won’t tell anyone I promise.”
I reached out my pinky and tightly hugged it around Brooke’s. I felt like I could really trust her and it was cool to talk to her since she was popular in our class.
I tell Brooke everything about what I did with the plastic leaf that almost burned down the whole new school. She didn’t say anything because we were interrupted.
“Okay class, clean up your area! We line up for lunch in 5 minutes!” Mrs. Thompson says.
As I leave Brooke and head to my desk, I notice TJ was so calm about this whole situation. I knew nothing happened but something would have happened.
I line up to lunch, but from the corner of my eye, I see Brooke whispering to Mrs. Thompson.
So maybe I shouldn’t have trusted Brooke.
“No wonder the classroom smelt like something was burning!” Mrs. Thompson told me in private after she took me out of the lunch line.
“Ericka, the school is brand new! Something could’ve happened!”
I didn’t know what to say because my throat was filled with tears.
“I’m sorry, Miss, it was an accident,” I tell her.
“You’re lucky, but you are going to sit aside today at lunch. When we get back you are going to put your head down,” she demands.
At lunch, everyone was staring at me, even kids that were not in my grade. Maybe because it was weird that I was sitting alone.
TJ was all happily smiling with his friends. Part of it was his fault. I didn’t mention TJ’s name to Brooke nor to Mrs. Thompson. The situation was kind of my fault.
Anyways, I learned that creativity could cause damage but I also learned that Brooke is a backstabber. This was definitely was of the first time I was betrayed by someone I thought was my friend.
I also learned that if I would’ve remained calm and not be nervous, NO ONE would’ve known. Brooke wouldn't have to ask me anything, but knowing me, I tend to get tense in these kinds of situations.
I did not start a big fire or anything but it could’ve gone far. Especially at a new school.