The Little Time Thief
By Stuart Baum, with illustration by Camilla Baum
happened just how you would pluck a shiny berry from
a bush as you walked by.
Allina was in school, walking through the hallway on her
way to the bathroom. Down the empty hall, Gerry was sitting
on a bench outside of the principal’s office, yet again, loudly
tapping his foot on the ground. He had been bad, Allina knew,
and had been given a ‘time-out.’ Probably for talking in class
or for teasing one of the girls. He did both of those. A lot.
The punishment was fifteen minutes on the bench in the hallway,
in full view of the Parent Monitor.
“Hi, Tizzy,” Gerry teased as he saw her walking toward
him. The nickname was a short story (but not this one) and Allina
She ignored Gerry and, holding her hallway pass up for the
Parent Monitor to see, she continued on her way to the bathroom.
Then it happened.
Gerry, to himself, but loudly enough for Allina to hear,
said, “I wish the fifteen minutes would just disappear.”
And just how you would pluck a shiny berry from a bush as
you walked by, she grabbed the fifteen minutes from Gerry.
Gerry must have somehow felt the time pass, since he quickly
looked up at the clock on the wall. His eyes brightened. The
fifteen minutes had gone by, just like that! He lept from the
bench and returned to the classroom.
Now it was nearly bedtime.
Allina was coloring a picture on the kitchen table while
her father cleaned the stove.
“Okay, sweetie,” he said, “go upstairs, brush your teeth
and get ready for stories. I will be up in five minutes.”
Though she really wanted to finish coloring her picture,
she put her crayons back in the box, folded a corner in the
coloring book to keep her place, and carried the book and crayon
She put on her pajamas, brushed her teeth, and washed her
face. Then she looked at the clock on her bureau.
8:27. Story time was
She took out Gerry’s fifteen minutes and unfolded it, just
how you would unfold a full sheet of paper that had been carefully
folded to the size of a postage stamp. Except that there was
The time was now 8:28.
Allina sat down on her rug and opened up her coloring book.
She took out her crayons and began coloring.
Every few minutes she would glance up at the clock to see
the time. It remained 8:28.
She finished coloring the picture and was proud of the job.
In a few places she had gone outside of the lines, but only
where she had planned. She put the book and the crayons in the
drawer under her bed.
Allina heard her father’s footsteps coming up the stairs.
It was now 8:29.
He came in the room and smiled to see Allina sitting up in
bed, her back to the wall, green and yellow patched quilt pulled
up to her chin, waiting for him to read her a story. He looked
at the clock. It was exactly 8:30.
“No book?” he asked with a grin. “Are we making up a story
“Yes,” she said.
“About what?” he asked.
“About a little girl named Allina-”
“Of course,” interjected her father.
“-who can steal time,” she finished.
He gave her a curious look. Then he sat on her bed and leaned
against the wall.
Her father pretended to grab something small from the air.
He opened his hand to reveal that there was nothing inside it.
“Just how you would pluck a shiny berry from a bush as you
Copyright 2005 Stuart B Baum