Sketches

by Eli Hempelmann, age 15
Sketches Eli likes writing and drawing. He is a tenth grader and writes mostly short stories.

“He didn’t plan this one. He let his hand and the lead create. They created first a rough sketch. Detail slowly crawled into the drawing and the outline quickly became a distinct depiction of a person.”

The empty grey walls and glaring fluorescent lights seemed to soak up time as it passed, slowing down the world. At the front of the room, the teacher clicked through a presentation about the parts of a cell. In the farthest row of desks from the front, a student sat, blatantly ignoring the “take notes” portion of the slide. 

Instead of a long paragraph about the lesson, the page was filled with a series of sketches. The desk next to him began to move steadily closer, and with very little subtlety. 

“What’cha drawing, Fin?” asked the occupant of the desk, trying to get a look at the notebook. 

“Nothing, Roman,” replied Fin, refusing to even look up at the other boy. 

“Come on,” groaned Roman loudly. Fin sighed and held up the notebook. The page was filled with a few drawings. The largest one was of the teacher, Mr. Stuart, and his mind-numbing presentation. 

“You’d better be taking notes!” yelled Mr. Stuart. For a moment, it seemed as though he might begin a lecture about the importance of notes, but then he noticed the time and continued with his slides. “Don’t blame me when you fail the test,” he muttered before beginning again. 

“Why don’t you ever draw anything cool?” asked Roman, dropping back into his seat, somewhat dejected. Fin didn’t even give it a response. 

“Remember, homework is due tomorrow!” screamed Mr. Stuart, finally closing down his computer. Even the blank whiteboard was more interesting and educational than whatever Mr. Stuart crammed into his presentations. 

Then it happened. It finally happened. The blaring, harsh sound of the bell. Fin gently placed his notebook into his open backpack and slung it onto his shoulders. Even though he was in the back of the room, he crossed it and reached the door with incredible speed and ducked out into the hallway. He sprinted down the hall as other students began to file out of their rooms. Fin knew he only had a few moments before everything in the hall was packed with people. He leapt toward his locker, preparing to wait out the crowd. Fin quickly opened the door and stuffed his textbook into the small space. He glanced over his shoulder, checking if he could get out. The main door was completely clogged with students, pushing each other trying to get through the surprisingly narrow door. Fin glanced over at the side door, which was empty. He got up and ran to it. 

Fin stepped out into the cool, fresh air. The sky was filled with clouds and looked like it was going to rain again. The smell of the morning’s rain still hung over everything. It seemed as though it was always raining. 

Fin walked with purpose, expertly navigating through groups of students toward his destination. He walked past several courtyards, flanked by massive buildings. Finally, he passed by the last one and walked behind it. Behind the row of classrooms was a fairly large area. It was covered with grass but had several low walls for seating. It was protected by the shade of the neighboring building and a dense canopy of trees. 

“Hey Fin,” exclaimed a voice. One other person was already relaxing on the benches. Fin tossed his backpack down on the ground next to a spot of wall and sat down. 

“Hey, Cooper,” replied Fin. “How was English?” he asked sarcastically. Cooper laughed. 

“Obviously terrible,” he said, walking over. “How about science?” Fin shook his head sadly. 

“Mr. Stuart tried his hand at a slideshow again,” stated Fin. Cooper placed his hand on Fin’s shoulder.

“I’m truly sorry that happened,” replied Cooper.

“Yeah, hasn’t he figured out technology isn’t his strong suit?” asked a newcomer. They both turned to look. 

“Hey Alex,” said Fin. Alex nodded and walked over. She sat down across from them. “It does seem problematic that the science teacher can barely use a computer.” 

“None of them can use a computer, have you seen Ms. Philips try to send an email?” laughed Alex. “Oh, Fin, you have a sub in English today.”

“Is he any good?” asked Fin. Alex nodded. 

“Yeah. First time that’s ever happened.” She laughed. “He actually understands what he’s teaching, unlike the real teachers.” 

“Hey, where’s Huge?” asked Cooper, interjecting. Alex and Fin looked around, surprised he wasn’t there. 

“Maybe the lunch line is longer than usual?” suggested Fin. 

“Or he had to stay after class,” added Alex. Cooper nodded. After some time, Huge finally did arrive. 

“Stupid lines,” he muttered, taking a seat. “It takes forever to get any food!” The others nodded. “Even on a good day, you don’t have enough time to-” Huge was cut off by the bell. He groaned loudly. 

“See you guys tomorrow,” said Alex, pulling on her backpack. 

“Bye,” replied Cooper, packing up his own bag. They hurried off. Huge begrudgingly placed his lunch in his pack and walked off, still muttering angrily. Fin was the last to leave, and he walked slowly. He was mostly contemplating what to draw in fifth period, but also this substitute teacher who somehow knew what he was talking about. It sounded a little far-fetched, but Alex was never one to exaggerate. 

He strolled down the small hill and yanked open the door to his class. It was about half-full. The teacher was nowhere to be found. Fin sat down in a seat near the back of the room and pulled out his notebook. Students filtered in and took their seats slowly. Once everyone was seated, the teacher appeared. 

The teacher wore a bright, almost lime green dress shirt and a shiny black bow tie. A few students laughed under their breath at his burgundy suit. 

“I am Mr. G,” he said. Instantly, a dozen hands shot up with the same question. Mr. G pointed to one student. 

“What does the G stand for?” she asked. Mr. G sighed.

“Germaine,” he said. A few more snickering laughs could be heard across the room. Mr. Germaine ignored them and began his lesson. He pushed the button, turning on the projector. Loud groans of despair echoed across the room — a slideshow was beginning. Everyone gasped in shock as the first slide appeared. It was well-organized, had pictures, and real information! No one knew how to react to this. The pictures appeared to have been hand-drawn as well. All the students were confused. 

Although impressed, Fin continued to sketch instead of paying attention. The grey lines of his pencil began to form something. It started to take shape into a room with two windows. Then a hardwood table. Chairs. Decorations and food, with incredible detail appearing all over the page. 

Fin looked down at it and nodded with satisfaction and flipped the page. He glanced up at the clock on the wall. Fin decided he had just enough time for another drawing. He didn’t plan this one. He let his hand and the lead create. They created first a rough sketch. Detail slowly crawled into the drawing and the outline quickly became a distinct depiction of a person. It was from behind, preventing the person’s face from being seen. Mr. Germaine took notice of Fin not paying attention and walked over to him. Fin nervously ripped the page of his notebook and stuffed it hastily into his pocket. He flipped to a blank page and swiftly covered it with words somewhat resembling notes. 

Mr. Germaine looked down at Fin, busily scribbling his attempt at notes. Mr. Germaine saw through Fin right away but walked past him anyway. Instead, he grabbed a crumpled piece of paper off the floor and returned to his place at the front of the room. Fin realized there wasn’t enough time for anything else so he turned eyes toward the lesson. He would finish the sketch the next day. 

Again the shrill sound of the bell rang out and the halls were packed. Fin forced his way through toward his next class. It was the only one he was remotely interested in. Fin’s last class of the day, was art class. Unfortunately, his teacher insisted on only using paints. The teacher referred to pencils as “only for tests,” a statement Fin fervently disagreed with. He never used color in any of his drawing, a style the teacher simply couldn’t accept. Fin also preferred a more natural way of drawing, another reason for conflict with art teacher. “Art requires rigid structure!” Fin remembered being told on many occasions. He didn’t, couldn’t understand how anyone could think that. 

Fin forced his hand to cover the canvas in color, first in blue, then red. The teacher always marched around the room while they painted, offering entirely unhelpful criticisms. 

“I see you are finally applying yourself to real art,” the teacher declared, passing by Fin’s desk. Fin suppressed a laugh as he looked at the random pattern of color in front of him.

“Whatever you say,” he muttered once the teacher was safely out of earshot. Fin continued to ‘enhance’ his painting as the clock ticked away, far too slow. At long last, the class ended and Fin sprinted out the door. 

He hurried out the gate and set off toward his house. Fin walked calmly down the grey sidewalk. His eyes swept across the familiar scene. Houses lined the street on both sides. He could describe them from memory. Fin decided to try.

“First the two-story blue, one-story red,” he continued all the way up the street without even opening his eyes. He must’ve walked this route a thousand times. But just because it was familiar didn’t make it boring. Fin found comfort in the same walk, day after day. The routine grounded him. 

The walk wasn’t long and Fin soon found himself at his own front door. It was painted a crisp white. Fin fumbled for the key and inserted it into the lock. 

“Hello!” he shouted, stepping inside. There was no response. Fin glanced out into the driveway and noticed no car. He walked inside and dropped his backpack on the floor. 

Fin dragged the bag up the stairs and tossed it into his room. The room, like the rest of the house, was mostly some shade of blue. The walls were a light, cheerful blue, the ceiling a darker, calm navy. Fin sat down at his desk and his reached into his pocket for the sketch he had started earlier. 

Fin’s eyes widened in surprise as he found his pocket was empty. He quickly searched his other pocket. Then those of his jacket. Finding nothing, he dropped to his knees and ripped his backpack apart in search of the paper. All his looking turned up no results. Fin slumped back down into his chair. 

He wondered why he was so concerned about this sketch. After all, he had lost drawings before. Fin grabbed a new sheet of paper and started to draw. He tried to make his hands recreate the simple elegance of the previous drawing. The attempt failed dramatically. The lines became jagged and hard. Fin angrily forced the paper into a ball and tried one more time. This too, was unable to replicate the initial artwork. 

Fin gave up, tossing both crumpled papers into the trash. He stood up and walked down the stairs. He paced back and forth a few times in the hallway, lost in thought. Eventually he made his way into the kitchen and searched for something to eat. Fin hastily slapped a sandwich together and carried it back up to his room. 

The sandwich dropped onto his desk as Fin sat down again. He stared down at the sandwich. It was made of white bread, and filled with ham and cheese. Fin’s hand grabbed his notebook and he flipped to a new page. Filled with boredom, he began to sketch the square lines that made up the sandwich. Quickly, the lines turned from a square into a perfect likeness of bread. In between, the thinly sliced meat was just larger that the bread, exposing its edges. 

Fin glanced down at the completed drawing with a contented look in his eye. He pushed the notebook to the side and slide the sandwich toward him, taking a large bite. A few moments later, the sandwich had vanished. Fin felt much better after eating. 

“I’ll find it tomorrow,” he decided. Fin rolled his desk chair over to the window and gazed out. The last traces of sunlight vanished before his eyes. Far in the distance, the bottoms of clouds were lit up in a brilliant gold, a final farewell from the sun as it passed to night. Fin dropped the blinds he was holding up and turned on his cell phone. 

The sudden flash was blinding after the calm dusk outside. Fin looked down at the three numbers at the top of the screen. Six forty-two. Fin stared at the number. The screen stared back like a flashlight. Twenty more minutes, thought Fin, clicking the button to put the phone back to sleep. Fin was not excited for the twenty minutes to end. He wished they would pass as slow as the minutes did at school. Instead, they seemed to fly by. After what seemed like only a few seconds, a new light appeared outside. Fin peaked out the window, hoping. 

In the driveway, his father’s car had just pulled to a halt. Its headlights were still illuminating the garage door with shaky beams. The vehicle was incredibly old. Not old in the cool, vintage sense. Old as in old. The engine churned loudly and the paint was not in good condition. The door creaked open and then closed with a metallic clang. A figure walked up to the door and stepped inside. 

“Finley?” a voice called out from downstairs. Fin got up and walked down the stairs. He was greeted by a tall man with a long, light brown overcoat. He pulled the overcoat off and hung it carefully in a hall closet. Underneath, he wore a light grey suit and blue tie. An orange pocket square added a much-needed splash of color.

“Yeah, Dad?” asked Fin, stepping off the stairs. His father looked at him and gestured for him to follow. Fin followed him into the kitchen. His father had removed his suit coat and hung it on a chair. 

“How was school?” he asked, walking over to the fridge. Fin took a seat across from the coat. 

“Good,” he replied. Fin hated talking about his day. Nothing eventful had happened and, if it had, it would be too hard to explain. 

“Good.” Fin’s father stood up and placed a carton of eggs on the counter. Fin looked at it, confused. 

“Eggs,” he asked. His father nodded. “For dinner.” His father nodded again. 

“Son, there is never, and I mean never, a wrong time to eat breakfast food,” stated his father. The look on Fin’s face disagreed. His father tossed the eggs into a pan and put bread in the toaster. Fin shook his head, at a loss for words. 

Once everything was cooking, his father grabbed his own cell phone. A moment later, the sound of violins and cellos erupted from the speakers and filled the room. His father quickly scrambled the eggs and dropped them onto a plate. Seconds later, the sound of toast popping up from the heat interrupted the classical music. 

His father happily hummed along to the music as he assembled the dinner/breakfast. He placed a plate in front of Fin, heaped with eggs and toast. Fin looked at it skeptically. Fin’s father sat down across from him, with his own large plate. 

“So, draw anything today?” he asked. Fin nodded. “Can I see it?” 

“I lost it,” replied Fin. 

“Too bad. I hope you have something by the time I get back next weekend,” his father stated. 

“Yeah, where are you going again?” asked Fin. 

“San Francisco, for work,” he replied. “I wish I wasn’t, but not my call.” His father sighed loudly. 

“This is actually pretty good,” said Fin, staring, shocked, at his eggs. 

“Of course it is, it’s breakfast. Well, I’d better get some sleep before the flight tomorrow. Good night, Finley,” his father said, standing up and carrying his plate to the sink. 

“Night,” replied Fin. His father paused the song and walked out of the kitchen. Fin remained for a while longer, slowly eating his dinner/breakfast. As Fin finished, the house was silent. He glanced at the time again. It was almost eight as he heard the sound of another car outside. 

Fin was in the kitchen, washing his plate when the door opened and his mother walked in. 

“Hey,” he said. 

“Hi, Finley,” she replied, placing her computer bag on the counter. She too wore a long, heavy overcoat. It could easily be mistaken for pure black, but in the light, the shades of green revealed themselves. “How was school?” 

“Good,” Fin replied, in the same disinterested tone as when his father asked. He began making his way toward the stairs.

“Where’s Jerome?” she asked. Fin gestured with his head toward the stairs.

“Dad went to bed,” he replied, walking up the stairs himself. Fin hurried up and into his room. He couldn’t tell if he was tired, or fully awake. He sat down and thought for some time. He quickly decided that he did feel tired and, a few minutes later, was peacefully dreaming in the calm darkness.

***

Fin awoke to find the sun just beginning to rise. He quickly turned off his alarm, which would have gone off any minute. He struggled out of bed and got dressed. Fin made his way down to the kitchen and poured some milk into a bowl of cereal. He sat quietly eating it and staring at the clock. He finished just in time to grab his backpack and run out the door. 

“Bye!” he shouted, slamming the door behind him. Fin had no time to savor the walk this morning. He ran down the sidewalk as fast as he could. He just managed to slide into his desk as the bell rang. 

“Today we will be continuing our study of the Roman conquest of Gaul!” shouted Ms. Stevens, the history teacher. Fin sighed quietly and began to doodle a few Roman soldiers into his notebook. Although a little rushed, the small warriors were covered in intricate detail. Each of their faces, full of expression. Each of their shields, reflecting the sun. Fin continued to elaborate on the small drawing as the lecture dragged on. He added a few Gallic fighters on the opposite side of the page. Then some forests and woodland. By the end of the class, the entire page was covered in a vast battle among the densely packed trees. 

Fin was forced to pay attention to his math lesson. He couldn’t think of anything to put down on the page. He waited patiently for inspiration as the teacher went on and on about trigonometric functions and their vast importance to everyday life. Finally, the bell rang again and Fin hurried out to where his friends gathered. 

Alex and Cooper were deep in conversation when he arrived. Huge was also there, with food. 

“Short lines today?” Fin asked. Huge laughed and shook his head. 

“No such thing as a short line. I decided to bring food today,” he replied, taking a large bite out of his sandwich. 

“There has to be a way to shorten the lines,” Fin muttered, trying to think of one himself. Huge laughed even louder.

“They try something every year, but it never works. Remember last year, they tried opening a second cafeteria. They both just had giant lines!” declared Huge. “There’s just no way around it.” 

“Plus, the garbage they sell doesn’t even taste good,” added Fin. Huge nodded his agreement. 

“Of course it doesn’t taste good. If it did, the lines would be even longer!” shouted Huge. He was very passionate about lunch lines. 

The short break ended all too quickly and Fin and the others headed off to third period. For Fin, that meant Spanish. Spanish was one of the only classes he enjoyed. Learning a language was fun, even if he wasn’t any good at it. It was the one part of the day that passed too quickly. He wished he could stay there instead of heading off to learn about something boring about biology. 

Fin sat through science, still lacking in inspiration. Tragically, he actually learned something human cells. Strangely, this class also seemed to slip by quickly. 

Even lunch vanished in what seemed like seconds, and Fin found himself once again sitting in his English class. At the front of the room, Mr. Germaine prepared for class. He had replaced yesterday’s outfit with a bright blue suit, purple shirt, and solid red bow tie. 

Another of Mr. Germaine’s flawless slideshows occupied the entirety of the class period. As Fin got up to leave, the teacher was suddenly next to his desk. 

“Finley, stay after class,” Mr. Germaine said. Fin finished packing up his stuff and, as everyone left, walked up to the teacher.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. Mr. Germaine reached into a drawer in his desk and withdrew a piece of paper.

“Nothing’s wrong. Just wondering, is this yours?” asked Mr. Germaine. He unfolded the paper, revealing Fin’s sketch from the day before. 

“Of course not, I would never-” Fin began to protest but Mr. Germaine held up his hand. 

“You aren’t in trouble, in fact, quite the opposite. This drawing is incredible,” stated Mr. Germaine. “It’s some of the best art I’ve ever seen, and my sister owns a gallery.” 

“Really?” asked Fin, surprised. 

“Yeah, I’d like to show it to her if that’s alright, try and get it into the gallery.” added Mr. Germaine. 

“Really?” asked Fin again, even more surprised. Mr. Germaine nodded. “Awesome.”

“You should go though, you’ll be late for your next class,” said Mr. Germaine, pointing at the clock. Fin saw the time and sprinted out. 

As he sat in art class, painting some disgusting colors, he couldn’t take his mind off what had just happened. His art might actually be in a gallery! He walked a little in shock, and couldn’t care less when his art teacher called painting “uninspired” and “boring.” 

Fin raced home after school. As he walked, he stared down at his phone. He quickly typed, “Might get my art into a gallery!!!!!” and sent it into their group’s text chain. Fin got home sat in his room, just thinking. Thinking about what it would be like to get his art into a gallery. About what it would be like to be an artist. A loud buzz broke his daydreaming. “Nice,” Huge had replied. Sometime later, an “Awesome” was received from both Cooper and Alex. 

Fin went to sleep contented and excited for tomorrow. The next day’s classes lasted for the blink of an eye until, once again, he was in English. Fin arrived early to talk to Mr. Germaine, who was waiting for him.

“Ok, so, she loved the drawing but… there were a few problems,” said Mr. Germaine as Fin approached.

“What happened?” he asked, concerned. 

“For one thing, it’s pretty small. Also, it’s on notebook paper,” stated Mr. Germaine. Fin groaned, he hadn’t thought of that. “If you can recreate it, or something close, on better paper, you’re in. Obviously not during my class but… whenever.” 

Fin was completely lost in thought during art class. He never even started painting. Fin made a quick smudge on the canvas as the teacher walked past, but other than that, he was completely disengaged. 

Once again, he sprinted home and searched for some better paper. He could find only one sheet. One chance. He set the paper on his desk and sharpened his best pencil. 

Fin decided he needed to practice first. He grabbed his notebook and pictured that first sketch in his mind. He started to draw. Fin looked down in dismay. The hard lines didn’t even approximate a person. It was a disaster. Fin tried again. Then again. Time after time, the copies fell apart before his eyes. None of them looked at all like the original. Angrily, Fin ripped the papers apart, tossing the tattered scraps into the trash. He took a long, deep breath and grabbed his sheet of paper. This was it. He put the pencil to the page and gave his hand control.

Slowly, the first lines molded long, flowing hair. Then a tiny corner of face. Then a neck and shoulders. Finally, a body appeared and they drawing came together. Gradually, Fin added depth and shadow. It turned from a drawing into a person. He took a step back looking at the finished drawing. It was perfect, yet nothing like the original. Its differences only made it better. 

Fin gently rolled the paper up and wrapped two rubber bands around to hold it in place. Then he set it down by the door, ready for tomorrow. Fin checked the clock and was stunned. He hadn’t realized just how long he had working on the drawings. The clock displayed twelve fifty-two. 

He lay awake, bubbling with excitement, for quite some time. After what could have been an hour, he slipped into dreams about the future. These dreams carried him peacefully till morning. 

Fin could barely stay in his seat the next day. Not a single word said by a teacher stuck in his mind. It was filled with thoughts about his drawing. The classes barely registered in Fin’s mind as they flew past. He couldn’t wait to show Mr. Germaine the drawing. 

He sprinted into the room the moment the bell rang for class. He ran up and rolled the drawing out onto Mr. Germaine’s desk. Mr. Germaine picked it up and looked at it. 

“This is magnificent!” exclaimed Mr. Germaine. “I’m glad you didn’t try to copy the original, this is much better.” Fin laughed a little ruefully, remembering the numerous attempts to do just that.  

“Thank you,” he replied. Mr. Germaine rolled it back up and placed it next to his desk. 

“I’ll take this over after school,” he said. Fin nodded and walked back to his seat. He couldn’t believe this was really happening. His art might hang in a gallery. 

As the class began, Fin began to absently doodle on in his notebook. The seemingly random lines came together and an image appeared. It was a clean, plain, white wall. Hanging on this wall was a rectangular object. On it was a drawing just like the one Fin had given to Mr. Germaine. Fin scribbled a few people around it. Two, both in suits, appeared to be discussing the drawing. Another person was simply marvelling at it in the corner. Fin continued the drawing onto the next page during his next classes. He added more wall and some of his other sketches. Soon, an entire room was covered in his artwork. It was packed with people of all kinds. Some seemed like wealthy collectors. Others were just normal people. The thing they all had in common was their fascinated gaze as they stared at Fin’s drawings. 

Fin spent the next day searching for inspiration for his next gallery-worthy drawing. It wasn’t easy. He was still thinking when he entered Mr. Germaine’s class once again. 

“Good news!” exclaimed Mr. Germaine, walking up to Fin’s desk. Fin looked up in surprise and excitement. “It’s in! It will be hanging tomorrow. Come by sometime in the evening,” said Mr. Germaine, handing Fin a business card for the gallery. It was covered in color and the words were printed over it in black ink. A large, intricate compass was located in the bottom left corner. 

“The Compass,” Fin muttered, reading the words on the card. “By Claudia Germaine.” Beneath the names was a phone number and address. Fin placed the business card in his pocket and, once he got home, typed the name into his computer. He wanted to see what this gallery was like, and what sort of other art it had. 

It had a rustic front and large windows. Its name was in large gold letters. On the website, a large banner heralded the arrival of a new piece in the evening the next day. 

Fin grabbed his phone and sent a message inviting his friends to go with him to the gallery. Within only a few minutes, everyone was in. Fin could barely contain his excitement. 

Fin received hearty congratulations from each of his friends and, later that day, Mr. Germaine. Fin waited at the front gate of the school for his friends to arrive. They came slowly because Alex had to cross the entire campus. 

“How are we going to get there? This address is downtown,” asked Alex. Fin had already thought of this.

“My mom’s gonna take us,” he said, leading the way toward his house. Fin walked with purpose, not engaging the chatter and jokes of the others. 

“Hey, so what’s your drawing of?” asked Cooper as they piled into the car. They could just barely fit. 

“You’ll see,” replied Fin, not wanting to spoil anything. The ride was loud and fun, but also shorter than expected. No traffic blocked the streets and tied up hours of everyone’s time. Fin savored the moment as he climbed out of the car and looked at the gallery. It looked just like the picture. Giant windows and a long, elegant entrance. Fin took a deep breath and pulled the door open. 

It was not all what he expected inside. It didn’t have stainless white walls and fancy people. The walls were a charming exposed brick. Two glass cases with eighteenth century antiques greeted him as he entered. Inside, the gallery didn’t appear to have any sort of theme. Something that looked like a medieval tapestry was next to a piece of modern art. A stained glass chandelier hung from the ceiling, casting confusing, colorful shadows across the room. The building was supposed to be two stories but, instead, the first floor just continued all the way up. A wooden set of stairs and balconies allowed access to the art located higher up on the walls. As he approached, Fin noticed that the simple structure, that seemed to be made mostly of plywood, had a tiny flower carved into each step. The flower on each step was completely unique. 

“You must be Finley!” exclaimed a voice from the back of the room. The voice, and its owner, were like the gallery — not what Fin had expected, but somehow exactly what it should be. The speaker, Claudia, stepped out from behind a desk in the back. Claudia wore glasses the shape of water droplets that were tinted blue. She wore compass earrings made of some sort of crystal. Her dress was painted perfectly and looked just like a sunrise. “It’s so good to meet you!” she added, extending her hand to each of them. 

“Nice to meet you too,” said Fin. He was full of questions about the gallery, but his first was stolen by Alex.

“Why is it called The Compass?” she asked. Claudia smiled.

“Because art helps you navigate the world, just like a compass,” she replied. “Please excuse me for a moment, I have to finish setting up your drawing. But feel free to take a look around, there are some fascinating pieces in here.” Claudia began to climb up the nearest staircase and ascend to the highest level. The four spread out to different corners of the gallery, inspecting the artwork. 

Fin headed towards a pencil drawing similar to something he might draw. It was nothing like his, however. Fin’s drawing was like a photograph in its realism. This was only straight, hard lines and didn’t look much like anything. Even so, you could tell exactly what it was. Where Fin’s drawing was realistic, this drawing seemed like a pile of cubes. But they were both equally recognizable as their subjects, they were both a human. 

Alex found herself in front of the tapestry. It was clearly handmade. Instead of depicting the sort of thing tapestries did, namely knights and battles, it had been woven into a tank and other modern weapons of war. 

Cooper walked up to a row of statues. Each was carved out of marble and was in Roman and Greek style, yet they didn’t show some ancient god or hero. Instead of ancient characters, the statues showed people of history who had been enshrined into American mythology. 

Huge was the only one to climb the stairs and investigate the art high up on the cavernous walls. He came upon a canvas. The background was painted a light, sky blue. Small, puffy clouds dotted the painting. In the center was an airplane, but it was no ordinary airplane. Where the long, rigid wings of an airplane should have been, a pair of soft, light, feather-covered wings were attached. Huge raised an eyebrow, not sure what to make of this. 

“It’s ready!” shouted Claudia from the top of the stairs. All four of them rushed up and climbed up the spiralling stairs until they reached her at the top. They passed by even stranger piece of artwork, but had no time to stop. They ran up and saw Fin’s drawing was positioned at the very top. From the top balcony rose up toward the ceiling. At the point where the straight wall became the diagonal ceiling, Fin’s drawing sat. The small staircase led directly to it. “What do you think?” asked Claudia. 

“It’s… It’s…” Fin stammered. “It’s perfect!” Claudia smiled. Fin stood there for a moment and when he finally descended, found himself in a dreamlike state. Nothing felt quite real, and everything was fuzzy. 

“Goodbye!” yelled Claudia as the four left.

Fin stepped out onto the sidewalk, followed by his friends. The sun was low and the air was growing colder by the second. Fin set a quick pace for them as they walked towards the car. It was cold now, and they all regretted not bringing jackets. Fin couldn’t stop smiling. He radiated joy and excitement. It still hadn’t fully sunk in that his art was in a real gallery. He turned around and glanced back at the open doors of the gallery. A crowd was gathering outside. Gathering to see something he had created. 


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