He did not want her to know about the black splotch, and yet he wished she did know. When the worst was over he could stop dreading it. (from Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder)
This story of Almanzo’s guilty conscience regarding the black splotch on his mother’s parlor wall had me groaning in sympathy for him. I know the exact feeling. I remember so vividly when I was in the fifth grade taking my mother’s razor and shaving my legs when she wasn’t home. I carefully washed it and put it back in the exact spot in her shower. When I ran my finger over my newly smooth legs, I felt so grown up, but so incredibly guilty I didn’t dare wear shorts or skirts. Then when the hair started to grow back, darker and coarser, I just knew she would notice. Finally, one day I couldn’t stand it any more and I blurted out my confession through many sobs and begged for forgiveness. I remember I was sitting in the back seat of her car as she drove. I have to wonder now if she had to hide a hint of a smile at my dramatic confession of what Ray Bradbury might call “gnat sins sizzling.” I don’t know. But I do know that my mom is the best. The Christmas following the summer of the sneaky shaved legs, I found an electric razor in my stocking.