Sandy Steinman

I stand trembling in class as Miss Shreiber shakes  her finger at me.

"Juliet, you are a liar and cheat."

The class sits stone-faced. I'm holding in tears. The cheat part isn't true.       

Yes, I lie. But not today. I lied yesterday, saying John Barrymore is my father.

"But, Miss Shreiber, I did dot the "i"."

Miss Shreiber encloses the other papers into a folder and points to mine. "You sneaked in that dot after Sydelle took off credit."

Now my spelling record is broken. No spelling prize.

Sydelle never wins. That's why she took a point off.

"Look, Sydelle, " I say, "See the dot? "

"You sneaked it in."  Sydelle whirls around. Her fat braid smacks my face.

I'm nervous. Old fat face Shreiber doesn't believe me. "A liar and a cheat!" she yells.

I start crying and run home with my spelling paper.

"Miss Shreiber called me cheat," I tell Mother.

"So, you left school?" Mother asks.

The telephone rings. It's Mr. Beisham, the principal.  Mother grabs her coat and my hand.

"Come Juliet." Ten minutes later we're in his office with Miss Shreiber.

"I never called her that," says Miss Shreiber.

Boy. I think, what a liar.

"One minute," Mr. Beisham holds my paper. "Juliet didn't dot the "j" in justice."

Now all are smiling.  I get the point back for "deceit" and lose it for "justice."

I'm not smiling.

I head back to class with Miss Shreiber, the liar, wondering about "justice."

First published: November, 2011
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