Yesterday morning Elf noticed a big scratch on her antique bureau. Maybe it's an escritoire. A desky thing. She was given it for her 18th birthday, but she has never liked it much. She has hauled it around out of duty.
Someone had scrawled on it what looked like a large figure 4 and a small M. The boys both denied involvement. Elf was furious enough to cancel Christmas and ban TV until someone owned up. No-one did. The day continued grimly. We promised that punishment would be reasonable if the confession came soon, but the longer we waited the harsher we were planning to be. Elf decided that enough is enough, and called a local dealer to come and give us a valuation, to get rid of the blessed thing. By now she was furious about having to stay furious.
We were both pretty sure it was Michael, but in the face of his flat denials we started to wonder if the neighbourhood kids (occasional visitors) should be called in for questioning. Lana dropped in, but didn't stay long after being lightly interrogated. When Michael started floating theories about how the dog could have done it, he started to look very, very guilty. I was getting sick of the whole thing by then, so I said to the boys generally "You don't seem to have taken on board that it is school holidays now, and you have days and days stretching ahead, at home, with no TV".
Michael said "OK - I did it". He had just been bored, and scratched it with a metal screw. His punishment is to pick up all the dog poo in the yard. If it ever stops raining.