Post by kristine on Jan 30, 2017 16:10:37 GMT -5
(Be brutal; I can take it!)
FLOWER, RIGHT HERE
Usually I like sketching flowers. They’re symmetrical. They have personalities.
Here, even the flowers look ugly.
You’d think I’d like these.
I love black and white. I was supposed to spend this entire summer painting black and white. With Ms. Remi, the best art teacher in Minneapolis. But no.
I should sketch these flowers just to calm myself down. That’s always a good warm-up for me: sketching flowers.
But these, in swirly water with bugs swarming, they’re not civilized.
Nothing here is. Not the old farmhouse, not the chickens, and not this back yard with its broken rock wall at the top of a bank going down to the river, to those flowers. Floating. “Dangerous water,” Dad warned, “strong June currents.”
No worries, I won’t get close.
I’m only out here to get away from Mom, who keeps saying, “You’ll be fine. You can do art anywhere. You have all summer!”
I can’t paint without Ms. Remi. Not a contest entry. On canvas. And especially not a city bridge when I’m out here in nowhere land with no city and probably no bridges either.
I’ll never be able to enter the contest.
I’ll never be an artist.
I pick my way over the tumbled-down rock wall and look for a place to sit. To draw. I have to draw.
At the edge of the pile I lower onto a squarish rock that seems low enough to sit on and high enough to be away from the creepy crawlies. Just like Little Miss Muffett. Great.
When I look up, there’s the Brown River -- Who names a river Brown, anyway? -- and those flowers. This river goes all the way into town, through miles of farmland; yes: farmland. Lucky me, I start working at a farm tomorrow: Rose Garden Farm, to pick strawberries and whatever else grows out here. Me. Expert babysitter. Best babysitter in Minneapolis.
Find a blank page. Find something to draw. Clear my head.
Something creaks. To my right, a windmill spins between the house and barn. Not drawing that. I look left, where a huge willow with branches hanging down, all around, grows near the river. Not drawing that either. Ahead, beyond the river, there’s a creepy woods, looking all Hansel and Gretel. No.
I rub the empty sketchbook page, preparing, and look around for an idea. Anything.
I don’t have to draw the angry water. Or the bugs. I hate bugs.
I rub my hand across the page and put pencil to paper. I’ll start with the flat, floaty leaves with their missing V’s. Lily pads. So the flowers must be lilies. Water lilies.
I draw spikey petals in a cluster to make a half-open flower. To draw the closed lily buds, I pretend they’re tulips. Shade them to look 3D. I add a couple of swirls for that water.
I hold out the sketch.
Ugh. The buds look like Brussels sprouts.
No one likes Brussels sprouts.
I twirl my pencil. I consider breaking it into pieces, but, instead, set it on the corner of the page and scribble back and forth, over my flower until the entire page is covered.
I should rip out this page, walk down to the river and throw it in.
I can’t even draw the flowers here. “There is nothing here for me,” I say, slamming my book on my lap.
“Oh, but there is,” answers a dry, quiet voice.
I jump up and spin to look at the wall behind me. “Hello?”
It’s gotta be Jemma, my younger sister, spying on me. “Jemma Soo Mi Halvorsen, this isn’t funny.” I use her entire name, like Mom does when she’s mad. I clutch my sketchbook to my chest, hoping, hoping, hoping it’s her, hiding. Because if it’s not…
She doesn’t show herself.
“Make a peep,” I say. “Now.”
“I do not peep,” says the voice from close by. It’s not Jemma. I take a step closer to the wall, so I can peek over, holding my hair in a pony with one hand and my sketchbook with the other.
Nothing’s there. Then, because I’m so close, something on the wall catches my eye.
A huge black bug. If you smooshed it, it would crunch.
“Bug!” I yell, standing up. “Bug, bug, bug!” I shift from foot to foot in my flip-flops, staring and staring and wondering if I could smash it with my sketchbook.
Its body has shiny sections. Its head has horns for jaws.
“Beetle, actually,” it says.
“You talk!” I raise my sketchbook to strike. “How can you TALK?”
“I am a friend.”
“Don’t need a friend! ’Specially not a bug. I HATE bugs.” Ewww. I lower my sketchbook because I can’t kill a talking thing, and I stare and stare and will it to walk away.
“Ahh. The crayfish sides with the crab,” it says, cocking its beady head.
I just stare.
It takes two beetle steps forward, legs feeling the air with each step.
I look toward the house, ready to run, but my pencil case is still on the wall. Behind the bug. Eww. Can’t leave my case.
Bug, bug, bug. Hate bugs.
“Let us start with introductions. I am Beetle. Or Coleoptera.”
I raise my sketchbook to shield my face so I don’t have to look.
“Cleopatra?” I repeat.
I take a slow step toward my pencil case.
“Not Cleo,” he says. “Cole. COLE-EE-OP-TER-A. Order of insects. Beetle. Family Lucanidae, that. . .”
“Sounds like science, not a name.” I get another step closer to my case. I look up at the house. Gauge how far I have to run.
Ewww. Hate bugs.
“You could call me Lu.”
“No,” I say. I can’t call a bug Lou. “Because I’m Louie. Short for Louisa.”
I’m not going to survive this place. Bug, bug, bug.
“Nice to meet you, Louie,” he says. “Some have addressed me as Beetle.”
Because my brain keeps repeating bug, bug, bug, that’s what I say out loud, “Bug!” as I take one more step and snatch my pencil case off the wall.
“Call me Bug, then.” He rotates to face me. Looks at me, waiting.
“I don’t need a friend,” I say again. Not in this place.
“I carve the peg by looking at the hole,” he says. “Looks like you need a helper,” his feelers twitch, “with art.”
What?? I look down at my sketchbook page.
I flip my sketchbook closed. “Random sketches.”
I’m talking to a bug.
“For a particular project?”
“A painting.” But that’s enough. Not saying more. Not saying I need to paint a bridge for the MySummerArt! contest. By myself. Without Ms. Remi. No. Not talking to a bug.