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A Cardless Valentine's Day
Mysteries by Kids 17: February/March 2000
by Juliet

My class had made valentines for a project. We were about to hand them out, but we couldn't-- they'd been stolen! We had just returned from recess, and a triumphant game against the sixth graders where we'd jauntily taken back or title as "Kickball Kings" of the playground. The nice winners' glow had disappeared from almost everyone's faces and a few of the kids looked like they might burst any moment. What was Valentine's Day without valentines?
It didn't take much to tell that our teacher, Ms. Crawford, was extremely mad. Her lips were pursed in a thin red line and she kept drawing gulps of fresh air into her small mouth. No one likes it when teachers get mad, and its especially awful when Ms. Crawford does. I glanced around the room, wondering which of the kids might have taken our bag of valentines. I knew that anyone who'd been in the kickball game was innocent, because no one had left the field. That left Jay Simpson, Andrea Johnson, and Joe Bennetfield. A nerd, a bully, and one of my closest friends.
I absent-mindedly grabbed a pencil and a memo pad, and headed over to Joe's desk. A guy with a short term memory, he'd had to bail on the kickball game to finish up his science homework.
"Awful about the valentines, isn't it?" I asked, resting on his desk.
"Yeah! Talk about awful! I thought this Valentine's Day would be fun and all... but without valentines? I mean, that's sort of weird, don't you think?"
I smiled. Innocence was written all over my bud's face and I seriously doubted he'd stole the valentines.
As Joe returned to his work, I crossed the room to where Andrea was clicking away on the class computer. Labeled a nerd, she didn't often deny her love of knowledge and all kinds of homework. A school-obsessed-girl is what I would call her, but hey, that's me!
"Andrea... how are you?" I asked, plastering a large grin on my face. She turned towards me.
"Fine, and you are well I presume?" I nodded, hoping I knew what I was talking about. Big words tend to confuse me.
"Well, it's a real bummer about those stolen valentines!" She peered uneasily at me, but smiled none the less.
"Why yes! I didn't think anyone would be able to get them out of Ms. Crawford's drawer!"
"Uh-huh." I said, trying to hide the joy that was rapidly spreading across my face. Running from Andrea, and back to Ms.Crawford I hastily pulled her aside and whispered one word in her ear, "Jay."
It hadn't been a hard "mystery" to figure out, but I did owe quite a lot of recognition to Andrea and I's little talk. She'd reminded me that Ms. Crawford had locked our batch of valentines in her "secret drawer." The only one with the key to the drawer, other than her, was our custodian, Bob Witterman. Since Jay had been particularly annoying in class this week, Ms. Crawford had sentenced him to three days of custodian duty, an ugly, messy job every kid hates. When he'd stayed during recess to help Bob, he must have stolen the key and the valentines.
Ms. Crawford pulled Jay aside, questioned him about the wrong-doings, and got a simple, guilty, "yes ma'am."
I was quite proud of my hard work, and all of the kids in our class were as well. Jay returned our valentines, and one month was added to his custodian duty. Needless to say, I was the new, official, class detective!
Congratulations, Juliet!
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