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Lessons in toilet paper This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

It was a cold late October night, and there was a familiar sense of excitement in the air. The streets were filled with the whispering of trees as the wind tickled their spines. Children filled front doorsteps and collected the candy that had been starring in their dreams for weeks. Halloween had come once again. For weeks I had been looking forward to trick-or-treating, watching a scary movie, and staying up late with my best friend.

But a change in plans was heading my way. My friend's cousin had come to visit unexpectedly, and my friend was being forced to hang out with him. I was left alone. I feared I would not be doing anything fun this Halloween. Fortunately, another friend wanted to hang out, but he had plans in mind that did not involve gathering sweets.

He called his friend, who also lives in our neighborhood, and the three of us came up with a plan. We were going to do something huge; something memorable; something only the big kids do – we were going to toilet-paper a house! It was our first time, but we had heard legendary stories about houses draped in white blankets of TP. We wanted to top them all. Luckily, we knew someone who could help.

Friend number one had an uncle who was a professional in the art of toilet paper throwing. He gave us some pointers. Tip one: make the house your piece of art – think of it as a canvas for your mind's wildest creations. Tip two: only decorate, never destroy. Tip three: if you're going to do it, do it big.

We knew what we had to do and how to do it; now we needed to gather our resources. We went to each of our houses and skillfully got 50 rolls of toilet paper without anyone noticing. On our way out, we grabbed a bottle of ketchup. Our supplies obtained, we settled in to mentally prepare, for we had only a few hours before it was time.

At 12 o'clock, we went to our target house. They were a nice family with a young son. We had nothing against them, but we liked everyone else in the neighborhood too much to prank their houses, so by process of elimination, we found our prey. Blood was pumping in our ears and adrenaline rushed through our veins. We had spent the entire night planning for this moment, and now it was time.

We pulled out the first rolls and began the dirty deed. We decided to start with something easy like the trees. I grinned gleefully as I covered tree after tree with lines of white snow. We lobbed the rolls over the house, careful to catch each other's rolls so they wouldn't make noise on impact with the cold, hard ground.

Our mission was almost done, but we still had the ketchup. The only thing not decorated was the driveway. It was our paper, the ketchup our paint, and we artistically created a masterpiece.

Though we had draped TP over the house and trees and decorated the driveway, there was still something missing. I had an idea. There was an endless supply of pumpkins around us and I thought that we should not overlook this blessing. As a finishing touch, we smashed pumpkins all over the driveway and yard. As we ran from the crime scene, a feeling rose up in me, not remorse or guilt but a sense of accomplishment. I knew this prank was going to make history.

The next day was Sunday, and I couldn't wait to get to church and hear everyone talking about the house in the neighborhood that had been hit. I prepared to act surprised. I was also excited to see the family's reaction to the disaster on their front lawn. Unfortunately, only one of my desires came true. I heard lots of buzz about our prank, but the family never came to church.

At the time, I didn't think much of it. Sometimes people don't come and there's no special reason. Later in the week, I heard that the family had spent the entire morning cleaning up our mess. To top it off, it had rained, and the whole family had caught a terrible cold. I felt so awful.

But instead of making amends, I was more concerned with my image and with not getting in trouble. So I wimped out and hid in shame. I never apologized to that family, and when I think about it now, I still feel guilty. I learned a lesson that day that takes some people years to learn: only toilet-paper the houses of people you don't know.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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