Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)
- TITLE: Kevin Byrd's Secret
By Erin Brannan
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He was new to my high school. His name was Kevin Byrd, but through the cruelty of teenagers he had become Kevin Nerd, or Byrd the Nerd. His drawing didn't help matters. One day out in the quad I watched from my picnic table as Bo Simpson and his clan came up behind Kevin and smacked his pad of paper to the ground. Kevin's eyes went wide with panic as Bo swiftly picked it up and dangled it in his face. Please don't open it, I prayed silently, feeling Kevin's embarrassment. Bo threw the book back on the ground, making Kevin stoop down in the muddy grass to pick it up. I turned away before I started to cry.
I didn't know Kevin at all. He didn't seem to know anyone. He wasn't stupid, I could tell by the little half smile that danced across his lips after Miss Fleck handed back our trig tests. He wasn't ugly either. With a haircut he'd actually be better looking than Bo. But he was awkward and anti-social, and in high school it took a lot less than that to be exiled. Sometimes I thought about coming up alongside him after class and saying, "Hi, I'm Lanie," or "You draw too?" but everything sounded so stupid in my head. One day Jenny Simon, who sits in front of me, was sick and Kevin turned around to pass our worksheets back. I tried to smile at him, but he just grunted and whipped around in his seat.
It was a Tuesday when he finally spoke to me. Class was almost over and the fire alarm went off. The morning announcements hadn't mentioned a fire drill, so Miss Fleck took the alarm seriously. A few girls in the back of the room began to speak in hurried tones about the fire being real. Just as we were all about to get up, Principal Michaels came over the loudspeaker.
"Teachers and students," he announced, "this is not a drill. The cafeteria has caught fire and we need everyone to evacuate immediately. Please remain calm and exit the building at your nearest fire exit."
The girls behind me were now hysterical and I'm pretty sure one of them was crying. Suddenly everyone began to rush to the front of the room. Miss Fleck was yelling at everyone to calm down, but the frenzied girls had gotten everyone riled up. Just as I rose to exit, Jenny tripped on her backpack and fell on Kevin. Kevin fell to his knees and his pad, which had been clutched protectively against his chest, fell on the floor, spilling open. No one else noticed. The girls behind me pushed past me, stepping on the papers before running to the door. Kevin immediately bent down and began collecting his papers. I stooped to help him.
"You don't have to help me," he said without looking up. I wasn't helping him actually. I was on me knees, motionless, staring at the picture in my hand. It was a picture of me and it was beautiful. The soft charcoal of the pencil created lines and shades that somehow made the pencil-drawn me look like a supermodel. I must've made a noise because Kevin looked up and his face turned scarlet.
Before he could speak I whispered, "I can't believe this."
"I'm sorry," he stammered, "Please don't be mad. I draw everyone." He held up the other sheets then and I saw Jenny and Miss Fleck and even Bo staring back at me. Miss Fleck called back to us to hurry, everyone else was lined up and heading out the door.
I smiled and looked Kevin right in the eye. "I'm not mad," I said. "These are amazing." I paused for a moment, studying the drawings. "They're all great Kevin. But mine is...well it's different. It makes me look…beautiful."
Kevin cocked his head to the side and stood. "That's because you are." He grinned and headed towards the door.
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