Clutching her drawing pad tightly under one arm and trying not to step on anyone’s fingers along the way, Sierra climbed to the very top bench of the bleachers. She lowered herself carefully onto the hot, sun-bleached boards and sighed. Then, extracting a charcoal pencil from her purse, she began to sketch the figures on the field below. Cheers erupted as her team scored a goal, but Sierra merely smiled and kept on drawing.
A gentle breeze disturbed the heat of the day, sending wisps of fine blond hair across her face, covering her eyes and nose, evoking a sneeze. She dug into her purse for a tissue and blew her nose. How she hated the allergy affliction she was born with. That, along with occasional asthma attacks, had been the bane of her existence. It kept her from engaging in team sports like her sister Sandy, (one year older) who was out on the soccer field now, scoring goals and reveling in accolades from her many admirers.
Sandy, she reflected, has everything--good looks, perfect health and everyone seems to like her. Worse yet, the boys are crazy about her. They never look at shy little me. I’ve never had a real date, unless you count Neil. Yuck! It’s awful to be small and weak and unattractive. Of course, I do make the honor roll more often than Sandy. I’m not stupid. Does it count? Boys are never impressed.
Being shy and introspective caused Sierra to treasure solitude. She turned 16 in January and got a driver’s license. Then she began to drive herself into the mountains every Saturday in her father’s car, spending the day sketching wildflowers and mountains and every wild thing that crept in front of her. It was exhilarating to be alone up there in the mountains for which she was named--up where the air was fresh and cool and columbine bloomed in shades of lilac, pink and palest yellow in every nook and cranny where it could find a bit of soil and sunlight. The birds were wonderful, too, as they flitted among the pine trees, each trilling their little song of joy. But the very best part was just to be up there--alone with God.
A shadow fell over her drawing now. She jerked her head up and looked straight into the eyes of one of her sister’s many boyfriends. Her heart skipped a beat because he was handsome, with wavy dark hair and very blue eyes and a dimple at the corner of his mouth when he smiled. “Hello, Sean,” she breathed in a voice she hoped wasn’t too timid sounding.
“Could I see your drawing?” he asked, looking downward. She tilted it for him to see.
“That’s very good. Do you take lessons?” He sounded impressed.
Taking a deep breath and trying not to look too eager, she replied, “Yes. Ever since middle grade. Art’s my only real talent.”
He sat down close to her so that their arms were touching and she felt a little tingle run up her arm and shoulder and all the way down her spine. A gasp nearly escaped her tightly closed lips.
“I used to draw a lot but my sketches weren’t anything like this,” he said admiringly. “I’m pretty good at sports,” he reflected, “but what I really want to do with my life is become a doctor like my Uncle Andrew. Means I have to get good grades,” he said, grinning down at her.
“That’s a great ambition,” she enthused, forgetting her shyness. “I’ll probably continue my art studies and try to do it professionally.” Mentally, she tried to determine how much her sister really liked Sean, whom she’d dated last year. She didn’t know but her current crush was the soccer captain.
“Do you have more of these at home? I’d like to see what else you draw,” Sean said now, taking the drawing pad and examining her work. His fingers brushed hers and she was ecstatic.
“Oh, dozens,” she laughed. “But what I really do best are mountain scenes, birds and animals. The walls of my room are covered with them.”
“Wow! I say, that’s great! Mind if I come over after the game and have a look at them?”
“Of course you may.“ Sierra’s face was beaming now. Sean beheld her wide blue eyes and dainty features with approval and wondered why he’d never noticed her before--a pretty girl like her--and talented, too
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