She's caught. Red-handed and with no way out. No excuse, she knows, will be good enough to dispute her undeniable guilt. But what, she wonders, gave her away?
The action was clean, wasn't it? There were no immediate witnesses, and the theft was quick and silent. The merchandise was left out in the open with no guard, no lock, and no key.
Then it comes to her. As her accuser towers above, scold and indictment readying themselves on lips, she sees it all. A sudden awareness empowers her and she scans the surrounding area. There was too much evidence left behind.
There are small pieces of bread - minute, even - scattered upon the kitchen counter. The result, no doubt, of a clumsy grab and a hasty retreat into the living room. There is cinnamon powder shaken into the air, settling in barely visible blotches on the floor and in the carpet, and still wafting through all-too-visible mists in the reflections of invasive sunbeams.
She was told to wait until after dinner, but she just couldn't. No, she couldn't... those muffins just looked too delicious to insult by waiting to eat them.
Her mother stands before her, eyes glaring, spatula in hand (clearly about to become an improvised paddle). "What do you have to say for yourself, young lady?"
Guilt overwhelms her. Less for the crime and more for the fear of any ensuing spanking. But then, a moment of clarity. Of significance. Perhaps her young mind is on to something.
"I got you a muffin," she says innocently, handing the muffin in her left hand - the one she had yet to take a bite from - out to her mother.
Laughter erupts, and wink and smile assure her that she'll not be punished today. It is a monumental victory for a 5-year-old, and she revels in it.
Still, she got caught. This fact disturbs her developing imagination. She is not yet, it seems, quite clever enough.
She'll have to rectify that.
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