Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)
TITLE: The Drawing
By JJ Jones
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“Lookit, Daddy, Lookit! It’s you!”
The cold, gray tile of the kitchen floor offered him no comfort, no warmth. The nearby wooden stool was a better place to sit, but John couldn’t make it that far. He had to sit down when he saw the drawing, even if it was on the cold floor.
He sat cross-legged and hunched over as he stared at a sheet of orange construction paper clutched in his left hand. John didn’t remember what happened to the little black magnet that held the drawing in place, or how long ago he had removed the orange paper from among the half-dozen other pieces of art on the refrigerator Evie had drawn, colored, or painted. He stared at the drawing with no sense of time.
So quiet-- though the words still echoed:
“That’s nice, Sweetie, but Daddy’s busy. Go show Mommy and have her put it on the fridge.”
John went over the smooth crayon wax embedded on the paper with his fingers. The upper-left corner of the sheet held a yellow blob for the sun while below in the center, a large lopsided green circle contained brown wavy lines for hair, uneven blue circles for eyes and clumsy purple triangles for teeth. Below, the name “Evie” was written in clunky handwritten with misshapen letters. A week ago it was just another drawing to find a place for on the refrigerator. Just a week ago. At that thought, John broke down; warm tears flowed freely down his cheeks.
“Heavenly Father, just... just watch out over Evie... I don’t understand. I don’t under...stand. I... don’t... under... stand... don’t... understand....” Tears fell onto the drawing and rolled off the wax past the edge of the paper. Others fell onto his pants legs and were absorbed by the black fabric.
“Lord, I’m... sorry... so... sorry for taking... her for... granted.” John sniffed and pulled out a white handkerchief from his inside jacket pocket, wiping his cheeks and nose. He heard Carolyn walking into the other room, her heels clacking on the hardwood floor. But it was such a faint, small noise. The house used to be full of the sounds of Evie running after the cat or Bugs Bunny on the television turned up three notches too loud. The rooms exploded with her laughter, yet now they were all so cold and silent. So empty.
“Lord,” he continued, “Give us strength. Jesus, give us strength for this. I don’t... I don’t want to do this, Lord. I know I have to. Cary and I have to. Please, go with us. Please, please...”
He wiped his eyes again and slowly began to get up, his left hand still clutching Evie’s drawing. “Evie, I miss you so much.”
“John...” Carolyn stood in the entrance to the kitchen. Her eyes were red and puffy, and there were trails on her cheeks where tears had rolled down her makeup.
“Shhhh. It’s okay.” Carolyn walked over to her husband and took the drawing from his hand, laying it on the counter. She then gently placed his head on her shoulder. Wrapping her other arm around him, she spoke softy. “I miss her, too.”
“I was doing okay until I saw her drawing,” he sobbed. “I just brushed her off, Honey, I just brushed her off.”
“Shhhh,” she whispered, rubbing the back of his head. “She knew you loved her, John. She knew.” Carolyn put both her arms around him, hugging him tight. “And I love you.”
“I love you, too,” he replied.
The clock chimed half-past the hour.
“We have to go,” Carolyn said. “The funeral’s starting soon.”
“I know... I know.”
Carolyn loosened her hug and John lifted his head, smiling at her the best he could. She returned the smile and held his hands.
“The Lord is with us, John, through all this. And Evie’s with Him, now.”
John’s upper lip trembled. “Yes... yes she is.”
“So that means we’ll see her again someday.”
“Yeah,” John whispered, tears forming again.
As they left the kitchen arm and arm, John took a final look back at the orange paper lying on the counter. Although Evie was gone here, she was alive in heaven. With the Lord watching over her, he would see her again. John turned off kitchen light, holding that thought close. And the sounds of Evie filled the house.
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