My fingers gripped the pencil until they ached. I couldn’t stop though. The drawing was finally coming alive. I’d spent the last four days at the park, trying to find inspiration for my art project. “Draw something that speaks to you,” Mr. Meyers had instructed. The swings, bratty kids on the slide, the crappy ducks at the pond…none of it held meaning.
There was something about these three statues though. At first, they reminded me of Goldilocks. This statue is too big. This one is too small. But this one is just right. I giggled and didn’t miss a stroke.
A little girl in a red sweater entered my view, but I ignored her. The park was full today. I’d become good at tuning out the children’s wails and whines and the mothers’ chatter.
A gust of wind pushed my curls off my shoulders. It scattered fallen leaves, an empty snack-sized Dorito bag and sand. I blinked, rubbing dirt from my eyes.
“That’s decent, but they don’t look three dimensional,” said a voice.
I flinched and glanced up. Behind my right shoulder stood a boy, staring at my picture. I held the sketchbook to my chest. “Dude. I didn’t give you permission to look.”
He smirked, walked around the bench and sat beside me. “If it was a secret, you wouldn’t doodle in public.” His smile illuminated, but there was something fake about it.
I scooted over and leaned into the armrest. How rude. I angled my book away from the intruder and looked back to the statues. Maybe if I ignored him, he’d move on to some other preoccupied person.
Wait. Where were the other people? Everyone had vanished. The cries and laughter, the ringing cell phones. It was all gone. How? Why?
He pointed to my page, his fat index finger smudging the medium statue’s head. “If you add some shadow here…”
“Hey!” I jump up. “What’s your problem?”
He chuckles. “What? It’s not bad. It just needs some…”
“Dimension. Yeah I got it.” I deepened my frown. What was going on
“Actually, I was going to say ‘emotion’.”
I glared at him from his light golden hair to the tips of his brown boots, peeking from beneath his dark jeans. He was my age, but I’d never seen him in the high school. Maybe he was in college? “That’s stupid. They don’t feel. They’re stone.”
He flashed an all-knowing smile. His light blue eyes sparkled. “Don’t artists use emotion to express themselves?”
I scoffed. “I’m not an artist. I’m in twelfth grade and just want to pass art class.” I tilted my chin toward the sky and got a better look of his chiseled features. Cocky, tall, arrogant, wicked smile, opinionated and muscular. Trouble.
“I disagree. But what do I know?” He winked and my pulse quickened.
One minute he was criticizing my drawing and the next praising? “Who are you?”
He jumped up onto the bench and sat along the backrest. “Call me Michael.”
For some reason I felt compelled to say, “I’m Anne.”
Chills raced down my back, raising goose bumps. “Do you go to Piedmont High?” I couldn’t place him in any of my classes.
He jumped off the bench and splashed into the water at the base of the statues
“I don’t think they want people in there.” I glanced around to see if anyone watched, but still no one was around. The ghost town should’ve bothered me more, but for some reason, I’d felt suddenly at peace.
He held out his hand. “Come on. From here you can get a feel for their dimensions.” Another brilliant smile.
I hesitated but curiosity about the statues as well as Michael won. I laid my fingers against his palm and allowed him to pull me over. Water sloshed around my ankles, soaking my Keds and socks. “So how is up close better?”
He leaned down as if to kiss me, and I gasped.
“Breathe,” he whispered. “It makes the journey less painful.”
I squinted. “What journey?”
“This one.” He placed his other hand, open palm, on the just right one and smirked.
The wind picked up again. This time I saw a black spiral shoot out from the statue’s hood, straight at me. I tried to turn and run but Michael held tight to my hand. “Let go,” I screamed, but it was too late.
The swirl picked me up by my feet, like a tornado and sucked me into the statue.
From inside, I watched the mothers and children return to the park. Their sounds muffled. The boy in the red sweater stood up and stared into the hood of the statue. He didn’t see me. He ran off.
Someone ran by, kicking my book. It slid under the bench. A black shoe print covered the little statue.
“Breathe.” Michael’s voice was close, but I couldn’t see him.
In fact, I could feel anything either. It was as if I no longer had a body.
© 2010, Jennifer Fischetto