The (Fortunately) Disappearing Pencil Sharpener
Once upon a time, it was a bright, cheerful morning in math class.
“Attention, class!” snapped Miss Milont, the Gnorbu teacher, glaring around at each and every student. “I have an important announcement to make, and it is imperative that you listen closely. Remember, to listen is the one hundred and forty-second rule in our class rule book.”
She went on like this for a few minutes while all of us were wondering what she wanted to tell us.
“Since you have all been such brilliant students, I have brought from home, for all of you to use this year, a classroom pencil sharpener!” Miss Milont almost shrieked, holding a bright pink pencil sharpener with dull red flowers all over high above her head. Wow. I’d wanted a pink pencil sharpener for years.
“I’d rather use our old broken black one,” Calvin, a red Jetsam, complained loudly.
Only one person liked the present. “I think it’s cute, especially the flowers. Aren’t they roses? You guys are mean to say stuff like that,” Jenna squealed. She was a pink Uni—surprise, surprise.
“Excuse me!” Miss Milont cried, clapping her hands loudly. “I’m glad you all like my present, but it is now time to turn to more important matters. Rosa,” she added, nodding at me, “has asked a question about the relationship between the Fyorean Theorem and the Slothic Formula. As you all know...”
The next day, as the bell rang for the beginning of math class, Miss Milont stumbled into the room. “Attention, class!” she cried tearfully. “I have an important announcement to make, so it is imperative that...” Blah, blah, blah. “...Someone has stolen the new pencil sharpener!” She was crying outright now. I had never seen the strict teacher like this before. It was sort of scary.
The room erupted into cheers. Everyone looked cheerful now except Miss Milont, who had retired to her desk, and Jenna, who looked worried and strained. She adored the piece of pink plastic, going up to sharpen her pencil four times yesterday. I wasn’t too worried about the sharpener. It would turn up somewhere.
However, two weeks later, it was nowhere to be found. Jenna was looking more and more distressed, the other “brilliant students” were bouncing off the walls, and Miss Milont was often seen to be gazing distractedly around the room, murmuring, “It was a wedding present from my husband. How could someone just take it?”
I finally decided that, for the sake of my teacher, something would have to be done, and by a certain electric Lupe—me. I began looking around the room for clues. None there, none there, no, and—none. What clues could be left after two weeks?
None. I would have to ask people what they had seen, beginning with the least likely to have taken the pencil sharpener: Jenna and Mrs. Milont. They were the only people who wanted the pencil sharpener in the classroom, and I didn’t want to ask whoever had taken it because they could be dangerous—I guess.
On Monday at school, I walked up to Mrs. Milont at her desk while everyone was doing their warm-ups and asked to speak with her about the pencil sharpener. She looked at me sharply, and then agreed to see me in the hall.
“I didn’t take the pencil sharpener,” I said quickly, seeing that Mrs. Milont was about to open her mouth, “but I am trying to find out who did, and I would appreciate it if you would answer some questions. All right?”
Miss Milont nodded, obviously surprised.
“First, at what time did you last see the pencil sharpener? Who was nearest to it then?”
“Well,” the teacher said, pausing to remember, “I believe that the last time I saw the pencil sharpener, it was near the end of class, and Todd was sharpening his pencil. There was nothing unusual about it.”
I made a note in my “Investigations Notebook” and replied, “Thank you. Could someone else have taken the pencil sharpener—someone from another class, maybe?”
Miss Milont sighed. “No, this is my only class, and I noticed that the pencil sharpener had disappeared right after the room emptied of bratty students.” She glanced into the open doorway and saw a raised hand. “I have to leave now. Good luck in your investigations.”
After class, I went to the bathroom to wash up for lunch. I turned on the tap to the sink and stuck my hands into the water. Suddenly, the sink began to make strange gurgling sounds. I smashed the tap to the off position and backed away from the sink, afraid that some kind of mutant Hissi was coming up the drain. The noises quieted and stopped as the water slowly drained away. I experimentally turned the tap on the other sink and jumped back. It was perfectly normal and nothing happened, except that the water drained away more quickly. I washed my hands in the second sink and went to the Yurble janitor’s room to report a case of stuck-up sink.
During lunch, I barely tasted my delicious toffee ice cream. I just kept wondering what was in the sink. Although the sinks at Neoschool often stuck up, I wanted this to be a clue to the case, perhaps the pencil sharpener itself!
However, when I asked the janitor about it, he replied that there had only been some jewelry in the sink, and Jenna Uni had claimed it instantly. There had been no pencil sharpener, and no clues.
I wasn’t doing very well. I sighed dejectedly. I only had one clue left, and that was what Miss Milont had said about Todd, but it wasn’t nearly enough to prove that he had taken the pencil sharpener. I would need more proof.
In my next hour, English, Jenna was in my class again. I headed towards the desk where she sat all alone and whispered, “I have to talk to you. Please.” She stared at me suspiciously and finally nodded. We both relocated ourselves to the private corner next to the bookshelf.
“I would like to ask you some questions about the robbery of Miss Milont’s pink pencil sharpener. Is this all right with you?”
I think Jenna turned red, although it was hard to tell over her usual pink. “If you think I took it, you’ve got another think coming!” she yelled. “Why would I take it? It was Todd! I saw him!” I was shocked by the sudden outburst. She was getting awfully defensive.
“Calm down, Jenna,” I sighed, glaring at all the curious faces, attracted by the noise, around us. "Take a deep breath. I never thought that you would take it. You’ve been too honest and nice for that. I just wanted to know who you think did it and if you had seen any clues.”
“Too honest?” Jenna whispered to herself. “Thanks, Rosa.” She seemed to have zoned out, so I poked her. “Oh, yeah. I saw Todd put the pencil sharpener in his pocket after sharpening his pencil. It was right after the hour had ended. I have to go now. Goodbye.”
I sighed and glared at the bookshelf. I was sure Todd had taken the pencil, after hearing what Jenna and Miss Milont had said about him, but I couldn’t prove it to myself. Todd had seemed so nice. I didn’t want to question him, but I had to. I got up slowly and wandered over to the door, ready to sprint to my next class, which Todd was in, as soon as the bell rang. Unfortunately, when I looked at the clock, there were still twenty minutes left until Faerie Studies. I ran out the door anyway, with my English teacher’s cries echoing behind me.
I tiptoed to Todd’s science class, avoiding any teachers walking around and feeling guilty, as if I was the criminal. I stopped in front of the open door and reminded myself to look normal. Walking to the teacher’s desk, I told her, “I need to speak to Todd for a moment, out in the hall. Will that be all right with you? Oh, yes,” I lied. “I have permission from my teacher.”
She nodded and motioned Todd out into the hall.
“Todd, I would like to ask you some questions about the robbery of Miss Milont’s pencil sharpener.”
Todd hesitated. “I really need to get back to class. We’re doing a project, and it’s fun. Please?”
“No,” I replied, instantly suspicious of a suspected criminal who wouldn’t answer questions. “This is important. Miss Milont is becoming seriously depressed at the loss of her pencil sharpener, and I have received information from a reliable source that you have taken it. Is this so?”
“No!” cried Todd indignantly. “I don’t know who did, but I didn’t do it! Maybe it was Charlie, or Jenna, or Roy, or Elzia, or anyone, but it wasn’t me!”
I stared at him suspiciously. “You’re getting awfully defensive, Todd.”
He sighed. “Anyone would be if they had just been unjustly accused by a baby Lupe playing detective. I’ve got to go. Goodbye.”
Yes, Todd was certainly guilty. He was about as innocent as a five-year old boy with cookie crumbs all over his face sitting next to an empty cookie jar. Besides, I wasn’t a baby, I was painted electric! I would have to tell Miss Milont soon, before he took anything else.
The next day, at the beginning of math class, I raised my hand. When Miss Milont called on me, I announced, “After working on the difficult case of the missing pencil sharpener, I have come to a conclusion. I know who the criminal is!”
Everyone, including Todd, leaned forward eagerly, waiting for my next words. No, not everyone. Miss Milont was looking as if this wasn’t really necessary, but she was too curious to stop me, and Jenna was biting her lip and looking really stressed. She was probably feeling guilty for telling on Todd. After I had revealed the criminal’s name, I would reassure her that she had done the right thing.
Scanning Todd’s curious face, I was surprised not to see any guilt or worry. He knew I had found out that he had taken the pencil sharpener and was about to accuse him. Why did he seem as eager as anyone to find out who had taken it?
I had to accuse him, prove he was guilty, and have him take his just punishment. I took a deep breath and pointed my paw to where he sat next to Jenna. “The criminal who took the pencil sharpener is—”
Jenna screamed, “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to! I was looking at the pencil sharpener while I washed my hands, and it fell down the drain! It was just so pretty, and I didn’t know what to do when you asked me about it, so I just told you that Todd had taken it. Do whatever you want to me, but don’t accuse me! I’ve confessed! I’ve confessed!”
One week later, everything was back to normal. Nobody had known that I had been about to accuse Todd, and everyone thought I was a brilliant detective. The Yurble janitor had found the pencil sharpener in the sink drain, below where Jenna had stuffed her jewelry to hide the fact that the pencil sharpener was down there. Miss Milont had decided it was too valuable to keep in the classroom, and she had taken it home. I had persuaded my assistant principal not to give me a detention for running out of English class early. After all, it was for a good cause!
So, did I learn a lesson from this experience? Of course I did! The lesson was this: never look at a pencil sharpener while washing your hands; you might never see it again.
Yippee, my first short story! Neomail me with comments pleasepleaseplease!