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Because I Can’t Paint
The sky is blue. Blue like violets. And water. And jeans. And blankets they wrap baby boys in. The room I live in is blue. Painted blue, the walls and the rug and the blanket on the bed it’s all blue. All different shades except when the sun comes in during the day and it hits all the blue and it looks all the same.
My baby cousin likes blue but she can’t say it correctly. Blah blah blue, she says. Blah blah blue as she looks into the sky and my aunt takes her inside and tells her not to look at the sun. When the sun goes down you can go outside again, my aunt says. Smiles on my cousin, she likes outside.
Most people like the blue sky. And the sun and no clouds and the bright and the wind and the hot. I like the dusk I think. Sun goes down, moon comes up. Streaks of color shoot across the sky like a paintbrush stroking paint across an empty canvas. The colors are good, because I don’t like blue. Blah blah blue.










Sarah, The Art Tutor (Hey!)
It looks like a brown square room but really it is full and alive and teeming with people and things and I love it. Jewelry, pottery, painting, fashion, drawing, mural and stained glass. I wish I could take them all but I can’t because I only have room for one activity in my schedule so I will take stained glass. I walk in and breathe in the mixed smells of color, activity, and joy that make up the Art Center of Camp Emerson. Who knows, maybe I will find my calling.
Five minutes into the class and I will not find my calling here. The sun boils the inside of the art center, and the unbearable heat from the hot rod I think it’s called a melding gun but it doesn’t matter because I am miserable. My piece is terrible and it looks like a monkey could have done better in its sleep. Finally the teacher says ok time to clean up but we have a little bit of time left so you can go and look what the drawing class has done. I look and it doesn’t make me feel better even though we’ve finished because I can’t do any of this either. One is particularly good. It is of a flower, a red one. A girl from my class walks up next to me and says That’s mine. I drew it. It’s a rose. I like it, I say.
I would not like this girl. She is pretty and athletic and nice to everyone and good at art and I should hate her but I don’t. And I don’t know why. She says her name is Sarah and she plays the violin. I can help you with your stained glass she offers and I accept. I don’t know why. She is my new art tutor.
She walks away and I look at her pink shirt and I remember seeing it on the clothesline outside the bunk next to mine and it hits me. My eyes open wider as I realize she lives next to me and I never even noticed and I don’t know why. The stained glass class seems better and the Art Center gets cooler. And the day gets better. And now I know why.













At Least I’m Red
Sunburns are stupid. Except my mom says I shouldn’t call anyone or thing stupid so fine. Sunburns are ignorant. I got a sunburn yesterday at my friend’s lake cottage in New Hampshire and it hurts. It hurts everywhere. Shoulders. Back. Arms. Legs. Face. Heart. Pain. Thanks sun I really appreciate what you’ve done.
This is my favorite place on Earth but not now because it is day and high noon and the sun is out and flaming. I wish I could be out and flaming too but my family and friends won’t let me because of my ignorant sunburn. My skin burns but at least it’s red I don’t think I could handle it if it were another duller color. Maybe tonight I can go swimming when everyone is asleep so I can have a little bit of happy before we leave tomorrow to go back home.
Night is perfect now. Dark, quiet, still. Alone. By myself. Some people fear alone but not me. Why be with people when they run fast past me not seeing me and jostling me and my sunburn and not knowing how much they hurt me but they do. The water is cool on my skin. It is black in this night. Black and opaque What’s down there? I think. But I know. Some fish. Sand. Rocks. Nothing to fear because I know everything that goes on in black in the dark of the night on the water when it is black and dark in the night.
Maybe someone I know can put aloe on my sunburn and try to see how much it hurts or maybe they will all get their own sunburns or bug bites or rashes and then they will understand how I feel and why I hurt. Then we will all heal and I can go outside in the sun again.








Red Orange Yellow Green Violet
My grandmother is a quilter. She taught me how to make them well and I help her now. One day we decided to make one together on her front porch which is white and we can rock in the rocking chairs and talk. We set up our supplies and get in our chairs and say briefly what we want our quilts to look like but then we just sit and rock. No talking. Silence. Sweet silence like the smell of roses. We work and work and nothing is said but then finally when I am halfway done she says Your mother said you wanted to know how to quilt and so I taught you. And now I understand you.
I like quilting. Taking separate pieces of cloth and sewing them together. Meshing them and forcing them and it might not look like anything at first but just you wait because I know what I’m doing. Eventually, when I am done, it will look beautiful. The scraps will talk amongst themselves and work out their differences and love each other again. Plus now I can quilt and it looks good.
The sun is bright and shining and hot but I don’t care so much. I had put on sunscreen that my mother gave me and so I am happy. I can do whatever I want to do without worrying about being hurt. My grandmother smiles as I finish my quilt and I smile back. I like your quilt, she says. Where are you going to put it? I think. I think more. On my bed, I say. I like my quilt too. It is a rainbow without the blue.












Well I Can Paint Now
Everyone is there and it’s crowded in my small room but it’s okay. The night is almost over and the cans are almost empty. One wall is still blue. But the rest are all different colors. My ceiling is red so I can look up and see all the red. Red like roses. Smiles. Everyone is smiling. Everyone is happy because now we are done. Look around, the sun is coming up. It is bright and shining and I think it’s happy too. It dances around my room and see all the colors reflected so differently on the walls and the furniture and the ceiling, my ceiling, my red ceiling. Look I say. Look at my room. My new room and on my bed is my new quilt and on my wall is a drawing of a rose and on my ceiling is red like the sky when the sun comes up at dawn. Everyone is together and laughing and smiling and happy under the red, under the sun.














Hello, Sarah
I awake from night into day and I am in a field of flowers. Roses. Sweet-smelling red roses. I hear violins playing and I start to dance slow at first then getting faster. Until I spin then get dizzy and have to fall down but it’s the good dizzy like happiness is going around and around and around and crashing into other different happiness in my head like a red and white shirt in the washing machine and then they both come out pink. Pink. A flash of pink Jump up, find it I think. Run run run run run STOP. Wake up for real in my bed but still happy. Today is prom.
Get ready. Purple dress, purple shoes, make-up, hair. Roses in my corsage. Go downstairs, kiss my parents good-bye. My friends come because we are all going together in a limo that makes me feel special. Smiling, happy, sewn together, my friends and I. My date walks through the door, wearing a pink dress. Happiness explodes within in me like fireworks at night, and I feel better than a fish in a lake at night when no fishers are coming after them. Safe. Resolved. I say hello.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

Lydia's mom said...
Aug. 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm
Sam, I just now had a chance to read this. All I can say is you are amazing. That's what I call talent. Keep writing, and let me know when you post something new because I want to see it!!!!!
 
newgate13 said...
Aug. 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm
What I liked.  The vignette format: short, fun and sweet. The palatte of colors - both as symbols and imagery - Roses and sunburn: I'll never think of red the same way again. The line about the patches of quilt getting along together, and the melding of white and red into pink.  Mostly, the voice, the handling of emotions, and the development of the romance.
 
crazy-ashbobash This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 21, 2011 at 10:20 pm
Wow, that. Is. The. Most. Amazing. And. Special. Thing. I. Have. Ever. Read. Thank you so much for writing and posting it! I only rated it five stars cuz there's no button for ten billion cajiliion zillion
 
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