Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pen and Paper (07/17/14)
TITLE: Drawn to Romance
By Anita van der Elst
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Natalia’s ability to create stories of romance had no basis in personal experience since that was an adventure unknown to her. If only her readers knew how the hunger for personal romance gnawed at Natalia. If only the handsome stranger in her current work in progress could glide off her notebook page and kneel before her, gaze into her eyes, and offer her his heart. She knew this would never happen in reality. Why would it? Hearing from an early age how homely she was assured her of a life lived alone.
While lifting her thick strawberry curls from her neck and pulling them up into a scrunchie on top of her head, Natalia silently composed the opening sentence of her next chapter. And then her pens flew into action.
Shadows grew long. Laughter across the plaza filtered through Natalia’s internal focus. She glanced up to see several people standing in a semi-circle at an easel. From Natalia’s viewpoint, all she could see was the back of the easel with paper flipped up over the top. And two jean-clad legs ending in Birkenstocks underneath.
“Oh, that guy,” she muttered. He’d been here every Saturday for the past several weeks. But beings she felt in need of a stretch it wouldn’t hurt to meander over in that direction, just to see what was up.
The first thing that caught her attention was the fistful of pens. The second thing—a caricature in process on the drawing paper. A caricaturist! Natalia glanced back at the bench where her binder awaited her. Has someone read my work in progress? Did anyone know that my handsome leading man, Bradley, is a caricaturist?
Almost in answer to her unspoken question, the artist turned to her. “Would you let me draw you?”
“I’ve never had a caricature of me before,” she replied. “But I’ve always wanted one.”
“It won’t take long. Stand beside the easel and don’t look,” he said. And then his pens flew into action.
The crowd ooohed and aaaahed.
“Okay. You can look now,” he said.
Yes, there she was, narrow chin, wide cheekbones, long nose, hair piled up in curls above a high forehead, her head bent over…wait, a bouquet of flowers? And was that a wedding dress he’d put her in?
“I’m not getting married,” she protested. “I’m not even dating anyone.”
“Would you like to be dating someone?” he asked, carefully tearing the portrait off the easel and handing it to her.
She shrugged, and in a practiced could-care-less tone said, “I don’t know anyone who’d want to date me.”
His voice came low with his next words. “I would.”
Natalia’s eyes widened.
“I hope you won’t get freaked out,” he said, raising his hands palms out, “But I’ve been watching you for weeks now. Your face shines as you huddle over your notebook, scribbling away. I can tell you love what you’re doing and it makes you beautiful.”
“That is a little freaky, actually, and I don’t even know your name,” Natalia said. But I wish I did. She stepped backward, ready to turn to go back to her bench, and realized she’d backed into someone.
She spun around, sputtering, “I’m so sorry! I should’ve looked first!”
“Yeah, cousin, you need to look where you’re going,” said the someone, with a laugh and a hug.
Natalia, laughing now too, hugged Jerry back.
“Is this guy pestering you, Nat?” he asked, struggling to wipe the grin off his face.
“I think he sort of asked me to go out with him,” she whispered.
“Well, good! He couldn’t have asked a better girl!” Jerry said. “And you won’t find a gentleman better than my friend, Bradley.”
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