When I returned home from junior high school one March afternoon, I had no inkling that my minder would assume I had broken the law. She should have known that I would never have done anything of the sort, yet she scolded me as if I was guilty.
As I took my coat off, Mrs. Boyle noticed a stain on my left thumb and index finger. "What's that on your fingers?" she demanded. Before I could answer, she grabbed my wrist and asked, "Have you been smoking?" When I denied that I had, she lectured, "Don't you know smoking is bad for you? Look at your fingers. They're all yellow. Don't tell me you haven't been smoking."
"But I haven't been smoking," I explained. "We did a science experiment in school and I got some tar on my fingers. I described how we placed bits of wood into a test tube and put a Bunsen burner under it. The tar dripped into a flask beside the test tube and the flammable gas went upward through another tube. Mr. Quigg, our science teacher, instructed us to light the gas escaping through the glass tube to show that it was indeed flammable. The experiment was designed to show how charcoal was made.
Mrs Boyle didn't seem convinced by my explanation. Even so, she told me to go wash my hands. I had done so at the school but the tar refused to come off. Even after scrubbing for a half hour in her bathroom sink, the stains persisted. They eventually faded but I don't believe Mrs. Boyle completely believed my explanation. She must not have told my mom either since I never was rep remanded when I went home on the following weekend.
Though I didn't like boarding at Mrs. Boyle's house during the week so I could go to public school, it was far better than being sent to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind in Vancouver for months at a time. My parent's home in fort Saskatchewan was only twenty miles from Edmonton, making it easy to visit each weekend. McDougal Junior High had counselors who were tasked with helping us sight-impaired students with reading assignments and filling out tests.
I touched on my experiences at Mrs. Boyle's house in my recently-published book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book version while Virtual Bookworm distributes the paperback edition.