The eraser belonged to me; it was saved by my mother and returned along with many other
childhood items when I became middle aged. I was curious as to why she would save a
stubby old eraser from the primary grades, so she reminded me of its’ one and only use. My
faded memory of that time suddenly became crystal clear, as my mother recounted for me a
watershed episode from my formative years.
I had, as they say these days “acted out in school once again,” this time by writing
unspeakable words in a textbook. Without any hesitation or forethought, I chose as my
repository the teachers’ edition of our English composition book. Quite frankly, at the time, I
thought they were literary gems worthy of publication. That’s why I knowingly inscribed them
there for all to see. Upon further review by more knowledgeable minds, it was determined
corrective guidance and a phone call home was in order.
I was to spend several hours after school that day sweating in contemplative silence as I
erased the teachers’ edition and many other similarly defaced books. It was during this time
of reflection that I ground that eraser down to the stub as it remains today. The last visible
vestiges of my bad expositions disappeared forever that hot afternoon, along with more than
half of the eraser.
Mother then reminded me of what she overheard the Superintendent tell me, as she sat
mortally ashamed and waiting for hours in the hallway outside that sweltering classroom. I
can still visualize her ample adult size, trying in vain to get comfortable, in a sticky one
armed desk made for a 5th grader.
“ John, I want you to try and remember this:
WHAT YOU SAY to others might last with them until THEY DIE.
But regretful WORDS YOU WRITE, the residue of which, will last long after YOU DIE.
So you keep what’s left of this eraser and I hope you never need to use it again.”
*For the "Rub it out" contest, i still have the eraser.