art by Alan Bao
Gifted and Talented
by Sadie Mattox
Charlie picked up a pencil and drew a tree. The tree spread wide over a desert and Charlie sensed that animals off the edge of the page craved that shade. So he made them. Not just sketched their shapes but created them. He reached down to that part of him that tweaked each time he grabbed a pen and drew the animals into animation, actual moving beings with a motivation all their own. Pencil elephants, cheetahs--and there, a lizard--trampled the hard ground, padded across hot sand, skittered over flat rocks. The boy watched, fascinated, as they hurried across his notebook paper to huddle under the tree. The tree that he drew, that he imagined.
In an adjacent room with a thick glass window, the boy's parents stood. They were like bees at the honeycomb, vibrating and crowding each other. The mother put her hand on the father's arm and he looked at her through his glasses.
"It's ok," he whispered. "He's fine. Look, he seems to be enjoying himself."
"I know," she said, taking her hand back onto her own arm where it felt more comfortable. She pressed her lips together, conscious that she always said too much and pushed too far. "I just wish I could see what he was drawing!"
"It wouldn't make a difference if you could," The father said. He turned his back to the window and leaned against it.