Guilt by Association

My brother threw the peanut butter sandwich up and it stuck to the ceiling. I’d watched him do it. That made me an accomplice. Jack was used to getting in trouble. He was always in trouble. Not me. I was scared to death of even the threat of the belt.

He looked up at it. I looked up at it. Yup, it was stuck.

“What are you looking at . . . oh, my God! You guys are in BIG trouble!” said my sister Becky as she entered the kitchen. I started crying. Jack didn’t flinch. The fact that Becky didn’t immediately tell on Jack made her an accomplice too. Why hadn’t she told mom? I began to wonder if Becky thought I had done it.

No one else noticed the slice of bread on the ceiling when we sat down to the table for dinner that night. As the potatoes were passed, the bread began to pull away and hang, right above my sister Sheila’s head.  
Jack's missing because he took
the picture.

Then it fell, splat, on her freshly washed hair. Sheila went insane screaming something about having a date with her boyfriend. I started crying again. Over the sound of my sister’s shrieks and my own sobbing, I heard everyone laughing, even my dad.

“Why did you do that?” my mom asked me. I just kept rubbing my eyes and whimpering, looking very guilty. Jack said nothing.  Later, he volunteered to get the step ladder and clean the peanut butter spot.

And no one got the belt.


  1. Except for your sobbing, that was a great story -- and a great family memory. I had this vision of that sandwich falling down, but I thought it would fall on your brother's head (as some sort of justice in the world).

  2. I love the first line of this piece! Of course I want to now the rest of the story after reading that first line. It made me think of a scenario I would see on a family sitcom ... mission accomplished: a moment exploded! :)

  3. Funny story, I was snickering as I read. You've put the reader there and made us an accomplice too. Great word choice! Glad no one got the belt.

  4. Diana,
    The title alone is a great hook, and by the end of the first three lines I am immersed in this short story. I like the sentence variety as well as the blend of dialogue and prose.
    Thanks for writing,

  5. I really connected to your story because I was the cause of my younger sister always getting in trouble. To this day(over 30 years), she still reminds me of how I would set her up.

  6. It's such a wonderful story, full of tension, just as peanut butter & a belt would do to it. Your lines make us quiver with either delight from seeing who would 'get' the belt, or nervousness from knowing that the one who was not guilty would be the punished one. And then, you surprised. Thanks a bunch; I enjoyed every bit!

  7. I can sympathize with the little scared girl. The overall situation is funny. The beginning sentence is just unbelievable. I was hooked with the first line. I was relieved when I read the last sentence.

  8. What a great story! Hopefully you can laugh about it now. I'm so glad that your family was able to appreciate the humor, except your sister of course!

  9. You did a nice job of showing relationship with this story - your sibs, your parents. I love the unforgettable image of the bread slipping from the ceiling.

  10. Once again you capture a memory that sparks the reader's attention. The short, 3 sentence paragraph is a favorite. What emphasis on your writing. Thanks for sharing. I love the picture that you added. This post reminds me of Jon Scieszka's book Knucklehead. Kids will love it! :)MaryHelen

  11. Ohh, I felt your pain, having been guilty by association many times. I so enjoyed your story. I do feel that the belt comment at the end leaves us waiting - is there a sequel? ;)

  12. Love the old photo! It is even more precious because of your story. Thanks for unfolding it bit by bit and letting us live it with you.

  13. Great story! And great first lines. I will add it to my collection!

  14. What a funny and touching story! I can just see that bread slowly dropping down onto your sister's head. What a lovely memory.

  15. Ah, brothers! I love a story that you can put yourself into. The first sentence sounded like something that could have happened at our house.
    Did your father ever find out who threw the sandwich up there? Very fun slice today!

  16. I have a brother like that- Jeff. He's the mayor of our town today, but he's still the devil and one who made us all laugh even when we tried hard not to.
    I don't have the photos that I wish I had.
    Loved your Slice Diane.

  17. This was a great act of storytelling. I love funny stories! Your tears must have seemed punishment enough to your parents.


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