Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)
By julie wood
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“Let’s color, Margaret-pargaret!”
“Okay, Lisa-pisa.” I hate coloring, but Lisa’s eyes are bossy brown marbles. And her pointer finger is a sword jabbing at my heart.
“Well, don’t just stand there. Go get your crayons and your color books, silly!”
I shuffle off, obeying. We both turned five last summer, but whenever we play House Lisa always gets to be the mommy. She runs, talks, thinks faster than I can keep up.
“Anything you can do, I can do better….” That is my best friend’s favorite song. She sings it when she scrambles up on top the jungle gym, while my feet stay frozen to the bottom rung. She sings it when she loops her laces into even bows, while mine dangle from my hands like limp spaghetti. She sings it when she cuts out perfect paper dolls, while mine come out crooked or with their heads chopped off. And she sings it when she colors inside the lines.
Coloring is the same old thing, over and over and over. It also proves, for me, the hardest chore on Earth. Soon the crayon jumps inside my shaky hand, zigging a twisty line across the page.
“Look what you did, dummy!” Lisa scolds.
“That’s Modern Art,” I try to explain. “My daddy showed me some in a book.”
“That’s silly, Margaret-pargaret! You just made that up!”
One day this gives me a good idea. “Let’s just make things up, Lisa-pisa! We can draw our own pictures, make up our own color book!”
“That’s just dumb, Margaret…” But she stops and thinks. “Okay, but bet I can make one better than you! What are we gonna draw?”
“Let’s draw people who live on other planets!”
“Don’t be silly, Margaret-pargaret. People don’t live on other planets. People only goed to the moon.”
“That’s just Earth people, Lisa-pisa. I mean let’s draw other planet peoples, ones that got borned there and are different from the people who live here.”
“There are no peoples like that! You just made them up!”
I smile. “Well, that’s just what I said. Right, Lisa-pisa? ‘Let’s just make things up!’”
Lisa’s face knots up into a frowny fist, but she doesn’t argue with me any more. She grabs a paper from me and snatches up her crayon. But this time she doesn’t start her song. She doesn’t start her drawing, either. She just stares down at it for about a million years, her face looking as empty as the paper.
I soon forget about her, for I’m traveling now to Mars and Jupiter and Venus. My crayon becomes magic, makes their peoples come alive. I’m flying with Mars people, who are furry golden boxes with triangles for wings. Jumping with the folks from Jupiter, small green marbles who bounce up high whenever the planet burps. Dancing with the Venus ones who twirl in their rainbow-colored feather petticoats…
“I…I give up!” The voice sounds soft and sad. It throws me back to Earth, where I’ll soon feel heavy once again like a soggy washrag. That’s how I always feel when Lisa bosses me. But she isn’t bossing me right now.
Feeling curious, I glance over at my friend. She still isn’t drawing, and she isn’t singing her favorite song. She’s rolled up in a ball, rocking and sobbing. A million littler balls are scattered all around her—snowballs, made from papers crumpled up.
“No, don’t!” She cries when I seize one of the snowballs. But I’ve already uncrumpled it, and I’m staring with surprise. Underneath its crinkles, the paper still looks empty—empty as Lisa’s tear-streaked face. “So you can draw better’n me! So what?”
So I can sing your favorite song, I am thinking. It’s my turn now to be the mommy. Or the boss. Or the winner. “Anything you can do…”
I stop. Lisa looks just like a soggy washrag. I know she feels sad inside, the same way I feel when she sings that. And I feel her sadness creeping inside me. We feel the same things, I realize with wonder. But at the same time we are different. We are all made different, just like my different planet peoples…
“It’s okay, Lisa-pisa,” I tell her smiling. “Let’s cut out paper dolls now!”
My best friend unballs herself and smiles back at me like rainy sunshine. “Okay, Margaret-pargaret!” She cuts them out all perfect, but this time she doesn’t sing her song. And she doesn’t even scold me when I chop off some more heads.
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