Some Liked Prismacolors Best
A Short Story by Alice Clark
Written using the suggestion "Touchpad"
Originally featured on 01-13-2010
As part of our series "The Future Was Now"

Some liked prismacolors best, for their smooth vibrancy, but Jake preferred the colored pencils. They were old and precise and when they malfunctioned, they didn’t leak colors in unexpected blobs, they just ceased to work and he respected that.

He spent two hours of his day, every day, in the art room as he delicately outlined perfect forms of still lifes and cartoon characters on endless sheets of paper. Each one slow, each one a long breath. It was something different than high school and its essence felt closer to him, his love of simple happinesses. He then went to calculus, honors English, with perfect scores and low effort, but the drawing was his resonance.

On a day in November he started liking a girl named Anita and by February she was in all of his drawings. Perfect drawings with the rosiness of youth and golden brown hair. It wouldn’t have been as much of an issue if the drawings had not won awards, marked with ribbons from various state and local shows, posted on the walls of the art hall. Anita told him in a letter that that was weird, that there were so many, and maybe it would have been ok if there were just a few, but that he needed to stop, and that they weren’t even that good of friends and what was he thinking.

That night he decided to go to her house, driving through snow and ice, the blackness and the shine of the roads, a mirror of his mission. He needed to see the sharp line of her nose, the shadowed groove above her lips. He sat for a moment once he got there, in his little blue car, and decided that he needed to talk to her, would wait until she came out to leave for school, but something about the car felt too much like a cage, so he sat on the hood, the painful cold something truer, more obvious and it held him through that night.

In the morning, she did come out, and called Jake’s name, but when she approached, he sat there shivering, silent, and looking at her. And she went inside and her dad called the police and they took him.

Jake sat in silence in an interview room. They called his parents and tried to get him to say why he had waited there at Anita’s house and why he wouldn’t talk. His parents would own none of his needs, none of his shame, and suggested that maybe he should stay with his aunt for a while, that she understood him better. He stayed inside his aunt’s house for two full months, something broken having become obvious, he was split apart, sitting in his new beige bedroom, watching hours of old cartoons in the yellow light.

When they felt like he could come back to school, Jake was signed up for five hours of independent study a day, to get him away from the rest of the kids who knew the story about Anita. After school one day, he went to his art room, to look for his art portfolio and the teacher told him that it was gone. She said someone must have taken it.

He felt nothing, and he tried to rally, to find himself and to do more drawings during some of his hours spent alone in corners of the library, but as he put his pencil to the paper, he found it wasn’t in him.

Read More By Alice Clark

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Portland Fiction Project

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