Friday 28 January 2011

Friday Flash - The Artist

The pencil skated across the paper. Jessie liked to think she didn’t draw on the page, rather that every sheet of paper had a drawing inside it. She just needed to tease it out. That lunchtime, she worked on pulling free a knight. She gave him curly hair and a broad smile.

“You will be Sir Gryffon, defender of the Stone City and son of the late Lord Fearnley,” said Jessie. She sketched a griffin on his shield. She’d always liked griffins.

The sounds of a school playing field drifted across to her. She gazed across the expanse of grass from beneath her oak tree. The other girls congregated by the football pitch and pretended to be singers. Their caterwauling set her teeth on edge, and she watched them primp and preen when the boys ran past. Some of them dabbed at their eyes with makeup. Jessie would rather draw fairies and dragons than draw on her face with those black pencils and greasy red sticks.

“I bid you good day, fair maiden.”

Jessie looked up in surprise. A tall knight stood beside her. He wore a suit of bronze armour, and held a polished helmet under one arm. His blond curls ruffled in the breeze beneath the tree.

“Er, hello.”

“You are the Lady Jessica, are you not?”

“Um, yes, I am.”

“Why do you sit here, by yourself? Why do you not play with the other girls?” asked the knight.

“They don’t like me. All they want to do is talk about makeup and boys, and they make fun of my drawings. They made me sit over here because I don’t watch Glee and I don’t know who Lady Gaga is,” said Jessie.

“Lady Gaga? I must say, I do not recall anyone of that name at Court.”

Jessie giggled. The knight smiled, his blue eyes twinkling in the lunchtime sun.

“That’s a pretty sketchbook you have there,” said the knight.

“My dad gave it to me,” said Jessie.

“Your father has fine taste, Lady Jessica.”

“Had. He died.”

“Oh I am sorry to hear that. My father is dead, too.”

“I know. He fought the Orc King at the Battle of Pond’Haar,” said Jessie.

“Yes, that’s right. But of course, you know all about my lands, don't you?”

He looked down at Jessie, glancing at the now-empty page.

“You are not happy, are you?” he asked.

“Not really...nobody likes me. I haven’t got any friends, and my stepmother says I should be grateful that she kept me after my dad died, but I don’t think she wants me around,” replied Jessie. “She’s not a bad person, but she never talks to me.”

“Lady Jessica...would you like to come with me?” asked the knight. He held out his hand and bowed.

“My dad always told me never to go anywhere with a stranger,” said Jessie. She clutched the sketchbook to her chest.

“A very wise man, although I am not a stranger. You, Lady Jessica, know me better than anyone. I shall prove it!” said the knight.


“What do I keep under my pillow?” asked the knight.

“The first tooth you lost. You got upset because the Tooth Fairy didn’t take it and leave you any coins, like all the other kids bragged about. You leave it there, hoping she’ll come for it eventually.”

“Exactly. And what do I keep in this pouch at my belt?”

“A stone with a hole in it. You keep it because your dad told you that if you looked through the hole, you could see fairies.”

The knight nodded. Jessie felt her hand move to her jeans pocket. She patted the stone. Her dad found it on the beach in Dorset when they went looking for fossils.

“Lady Jessica, I am no stranger. You would be most welcome in my land.”

Jessie looked across the field at the gaggle of preening girls. Two of them noticed her. Jessie felt the force of the twin glares from sixty yards away. She thought of her stepmother as she looked up at Sir Gryffon. Harriet wouldn’t realise she'd gone.

“OK, I’ll come with you. But only if you take me to see the dragons in Madrigal Deep. And the griffins in the Sorn Mountains,” said Jessie.

“We have ourselves an accord.”

Sir Gryffon smiled. Jessie took his hand.

The bell rang to signal the end of the lunch break. None of the girls noticed Jessie was gone until Mrs Peabody took the afternoon register. Carly remembered seeing Jessie out on the field, under the oak tree. All they found was a sketchbook, open at a drawing of a knight and a girl with pigtails.


Emma Newman said...

I found myself relating to Jessie rather a lot. Just exchange the drawings for stories and you're just about there. I always played with the boys because then I could play Star Wars (and always get to be Princess Leia), Thundercats and Transformers. What can I say? It was the 80's...

So, so sweet. And certainly one of my fantasies :)

Sam said...

Great concept, I really enjoyed how Jessie turned her imaginings into reality.

Mari said...

Cute tale, Icy. I was waiting for some gruesome ending in which her body with sliced wrists is found somewhere in the field, but I do like your ending better!

Tony Noland said...

Loved the story, but I have this nagging feeling that she was kidnapped by a guy driving a Honda Accord.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Emma - Yeah, I used to get excluded because I didn't like Whitney Houston, or I'd never seen Grease. Pretty pathetic, really. Thankfully none of my characters came to life though or I might have been a bit scared!

Sam - I think we've all hoped what we imagine might come true.

Mari and Tony - Nah, for this one, I wanted a reasonably happy ending where she gets to live in the land she invented herself. Not sure if she's ever met the dragons yet though.

Laurita said...

I hope someone takes good care of that sketchbook. A lovely little story, Icy.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story! Another to put on my list of Icy favorites. :)

She's found the best place for her, I know it. Too bad she couldn't take that sketchbook with her.

I LOVE this story!

Mike Robertson said...

I really appreciated the cheerful ending. Reality sucks? Ditch it and dream up something better. Then live THAT. Thanks for a good morning read.

Anonymous said...

Oh if only, if only! Wonderfully fun story Icy, and I'm so glad she went with him to her own land, where she's sure to be cared about.

P.S. Thanks to you and Emma for bringing back the 80s memories. :)

John Wiswell said...

Oh, this is delightful. It would be delightful even if I hadn't lived many conversations like this in my teens. I should strike up more of them now. Going with the disappearance into fantasy for the end instead of a more conventional negative one sealed the deal. One of my favorites from you, Icy.

~Tim said...

Cute story. I especially like “Lady Gaga? I must say, I do not recall anyone of that name at Court.”

Patti Larsen said...

YAY! Great story, Icy--I think the writer as an outsider is a familiar story for many of us--I love that she actually got to do what I always wanted (and still secretly do...)

Laura Eno said...

What a lovely tale - and you didn't let a dragon eat her, Icy. :) (or at least not yet)

Harry said...

Wonderful tale Icy!

Anonymous said...

This is so beautiful and painful at the same time. It was the little details of the tooth and the stone that made it for me. Almost teared up.
Adam B @revhappiness

Unknown said...

I love what you did here with Jessie's emotions. I feel like I really got her, yet you didn't just lay it on. You let it drip through the cracks of the story, and once I was done reading, I had a full bucket. Loved that!

Also liked the ending. Vague, and has me wondering yet satisfied. You're a very good flash writer for sure.

BTW, somebody has to get Jessie a Lady Gaga CD because she's really missing out :)

Steve Green said...

Icy, this is the stuff of writers and artists, where do they all go?
Into their imaginations of course.

Larry Kollar said...

Even being a guy, I could relate to Jessie. Lord knows there were times I would have gladly escaped to a different world. Still so, sometimes. :)

Great job on this one. I like happy endings!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Laurita - Yeah, Jessie never thought ahead to how she could take it with her!

Gracie - It's been sitting unfinished for months now - finally decided to dust it off and give it an ending!

Mike - Yes, every now and then we need a good happy ending.

Deanna - Plus she gets to make it all up - what's not to like?!

John - Yeah, I could've done a "down" ending but I couldn't let myself. It had to be this ending. Glad you liked it - means a lot coming from you!

Tim - I genuinely couldn't resist putting that line in.

Patti - Yeah, there is a degree of autobiography in this!

Laura - Oh, my dragons are always like Mr Spock. Not bitey at all!

Harry - Thanks!

Adam - I must admit, the tooth had nothing to do with me. I once lost a tooth in Spain and was genuinely shocked the Tooth Fairy paid me in pesetas.

Michael - Yeah, the first draft had it all spelled out in the second paragraph but it seemed too much of an info dump. Glad it worked doing it this way!

Steve - It seems the most logical place to go, doesn't it?

FAR - I think all writers do escape into a different world - we just try and take other people in there with us.

Carrie Clevenger said...

It's like this with writing for sure. We know our characters, although sometimes it takes some doing. I really enjoyed this tale Icy. You have a way of telling heart-warming tales.

Raven Corinn Carluk said...

Fantastic! Never allow an adventure to pass you by.

Rachel Blackbirdsong said...

I used to wish characters from books or drawings could do this. I suppose we all did. Great story and I'm glad she got a happyily ever after ending.

Okami said...

Don't we all have a similar dream at some point? I hope she is happy...wherever she went. :-D

Stephen said...

If only we writers could all have a portal through which we could enter the land of our dreams. If we did, though, I would hate to see the world Stephen King would enter. :)

A happy ending, Icy. So many of us probably had to endure moments of rejection like this and wished that we could escape. I glad for your character that she found a way.

Jason Coggins said...

Why after reading this do I have A-Ha's "Take on Me" stuck in my head?

Anneke said...

Wonderful, this is my kind of story. Good for her that Jessica took the chance. I'd love to hear what happens next.
Very strong character, I feel for her and she reminds me of how I used to feel.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic story, Icy. I can't draw, but I was the girl under the tree with her notebook full of stories. I still never leave home without a journal.

Eric J. Krause said...

She's off to a better place. I'm sure she'll gain many friends and have a ton o' adventures. Good story!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Carrie - Glad you liked it!

Raven - Exactly! Take opportunities where you find them.

Rachel - I've often wished characters in paintings would do it, but knowing my luck, I'd get someone like Vigo in Ghostbusters 2!

Julie - She'll be happy if she gets to meet the dragons!

Stephen - I couldn't have done the unhappy ending. I just didn't have it in me.

Jason - Because you're an exceptionally special individual!

Anneke - You never know, maybe we'll get to find out what happens when she meets the griffins.

Danni - I think it strikes a chord with writers and artists alike...we've all been rejected at some point, but our stories have always been there for us.

KjM said...

Yea! Reality is overrated. Excellent transition from lonely girl with a sketchpad to Lady Jessica, friend to knights and seeker of dragons.

The other girls don't know what they're missing.

"We have ourselves an accord." I just loved this. Great use of language all throughout.

Really well done.

Magaly Guerrero said...

The Inkheart Series by Cornelia Funke is one of my favorite YA series ever. I love the main characters' abilities to turn words into reality. This story reminded me of it. I really like it.

And I'll seat by Jessie any day ;-) I'll write while she draws; I'm sure we'll get on fabulously ;-)

Donald Conrad said...

Classic, that the sketch-book was left behind. Delightful, that they could strike an accord. Well done; a fun story. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I'll just add to all the rest: great story and so satisfying. For anyone who never quite fitted in, this is the way it should have been. I felt the glare of the twins out there.
Did you ever see a cute film with Gerard Depardieu? I forget the title, but he came out of a page from another time and helps a little boy grieve his parents' death. Lovely.

Anonymous said...

I like how you made sure no one was around that'd miss Jessica (as her dad was dead) -like the happy ending and hope she's alright :)

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