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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Crime and Punishment (not about the book) (07/21/11)

TITLE: The Red Train
By Helen Clancy


Eight year-old Sally tossed and turned; she’d been trying to get to sleep for over an hour now, but kept seeing that toy train every time she closed her eyes. Oh, if only she hadn’t taken it. It had happened so quickly, a stupid mistake. How she wished it had never happened. Three years had gone by and she still couldn’t forget that train. She wished she could tell Mummy, but was frightened that she would get into trouble.

She’d been at her friend Billy’s house, somewhere in the country; she couldn’t quite remember where. They’d been playing with this train, just a small red one, but when you pushed it along the ground it kept going for a while, making this great ‘chuff, chuff’ noise. She hadn’t wanted to leave it behind so when no-one was looking, she’d quickly put it in her Disney Princess backpack. The problem was, when she got home, she hadn’t wanted to play with the train any more. She had been worried that someone would see it and ask her where it came from.

So the train had stayed hidden in a carrier bag at the bottom of the toy chest, in her bedroom, where she’d hoped that no-one would ever find it. She had tried so very hard to forget about it – but somehow she had not been able to put it out of her mind.

Now three years later she still kept thinking about that toy train.

It was a bright December morning, when Sally came downstairs. She sat down at the pine table in the small kitchen, where her mum was preparing breakfast.

“Did you sleep well?’ her mum smiled at her. “We’ll have a clear out today, Sally; sort out your toys before Christmas.”

Sally’s heart sank. “Oh, Mum, do we have to?” she asked.

“Yes, dear, it’s long overdue. We can take the things you no longer need to the Oxfam shop this afternoon”.

After breakfast, Sally rushed upstairs, to try and remove the offending toy, before her Mum found it. But just as she had found it, and was holding it in her hand, her Mum came in the room.

“Oh, I see you have made a start – good! What’s that you’ve got there? I haven’t seen that toy before? Where did that come from?”

Sally could take it no more; she burst into tears and told her mother the whole story. She was trembling by the time she had finished and expected her mother to be very cross with her, and give her some terrible punishment.

“Oh, Sally, you silly, silly girl! Why didn’t you tell me before? And you’ve been worried about it for three years?”

“I was so worried; I thought you would be so cross with me!”

“I’m not cross – I think you have learned a very hard lesson.”

“But … but, what happens now?”

“We will write to Billy’s mother, and send the train back, with an apology, and that will be the end of it.”


“Yes, I think you have been punished enough, worrying about it for all this time! But in future, I hope you will have learnt that it is better to tell me what you have done, because even if I am cross, you can be forgiven and put it behind you. That would be much better than worrying and feeling guilty about it until someone finds out.”

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This article has been read 357 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 07/29/11
This was an adorable story, fresh and sweet. Good perspective from the "little girl's mind" - and the mother was kind and gracious in reasuring her child after the confession. I enjoyed it...Thanks for sharing. God bless you~
Leola Ogle 07/29/11
As a child, I was so much like the little girl in your story - when I did something wrong, it would just torment me. Good story from a child's perspective and I love how the mother handled it. God bless!
Noel Mitaxa 08/02/11
This reminds me of Cecil B De Mille's comment when he was making The Ten Commandments movie: "We don't break any of these commandments; we only break ourlseves against them."
Great characterising here. Well done.
Joyce Samuel08/03/11
Sweet. Quite an irony that sin covered looms larger than life; but sin uncovered is covered by the blood. Well done.
Linda Goergen08/03/11
So well told - I could almost feel the weight being lifted off of little Sally’s heart at the end – great read and great message!
diana kay08/04/11
good story i loved it.... very true to life i think maybe we all had those red train moments as children... i am sure i did!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 08/06/11
Congratulations for ranking 6th in level 3.