Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Pen and Paper (07/17/14)
By Francy Judge
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He flips the spiral pad set on a small easel. Another inkblot in the center of a blank page. The black ink is heavy in the middle with bugs escaping its walls. Is that the right answer? The clock ticks loud like an electric drum as I say nothing, and he says nothing. Dr. Miller is good at this. He doesn’t breathe heavy or tap his pen. He never sneezes. Sometimes he will say, “Take your time. There is no right or wrong answer…it’s how you see the picture.” This makes me nervous because I must be taking a long time for him to tell me I can take more time. If I was quick, time wouldn’t be an issue. He wouldn’t try to make me feel better about how long I’m taking.
When I say something, even one word, his pen wiggles. Does he think I don’t know that he’s writing about me? When I say nothing, his pen wiggles every five minutes on the dot as he marks time. He must have six tally marks in his book since I haven’t said a word for thirty minutes. There is a wrong answer…any answer that he can use to diagnose me insane. I refuse to tell him the obvious: that I’m staring at a black hole with spiders escaping its walls, so I say, “Can I see the next picture?”
“You don’t see anything in this inkblot?”
“I see an inkblot, so can I see the next one, please?”
“Okay. What about this one?”
Oh, great. This one is a pouting face with tears exploding out the eyes. Who makes these? Don’t tell me ink can spill into random shapes that are so clearly a horrible image. They never fall into the shape of a daisy.
He raises one eyebrow. “Are you sure? You must see something.”
As I focus on the curved part of the inkblot that is the pouty mouth, I rub the end of my braid between my thumb and index finger. The scratchy sound reminds me of sand paper. Dad bought a used crib when I was pregnant and sanded it down until it looked new. It was beautiful after he painted flowers on the side and polished it. Maybe I need extra hair conditioner.
“Nope. Nothing. Next one, please.”
Dr. Miller flips the page again, leans back in his chair, and waits for me to respond to the new ink splotch.
The black edges are spikes, thorns…a crown of thorns above a jagged cross. I can’t say that; he’ll ask if I feel guilty, if I remember why I am here. I do. I remember her last cry as I kissed her goodnight. She didn’t want to sleep in her crib. She wanted my arms. If only I held her all night, she may have lived. I miss her soft skin and her smile…the way she kicked her little feet trying to crawl. If only I held her…
“No more inkblots. I don’t want to see anymore stupid, ambiguous shapes.” I cover my face and sob, embarrassed at my outburst. “It was my fault. I could’ve done something to save her.”
“It’s okay. Let it out. You’ve held this pain for too long.”
As I look at the image again, I see forgiveness and love and the soul of a tiny girl in heaven. Maybe I am crazy. I’m reading an inkblot like it’s a love letter. I may be crazy, but a corner of my heart feels lighter now.
“I’ll see you next week.”
“For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” 2 Corinthians 1:5
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