Dad Told Me Not To Talk With Other Children

Contributor: Lewis Gesner

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Dad told me not to talk with other children, or even to the teachers but to answer questions as short as I could. He told me, there is nothing for me to gain from them. Go to school and come home. I always tried to do as he told. I don’t go out to recess and I sit alone at lunch. The others are mostly boring to me, and I am not good at playing and running and jumping and other physical things. But I can move a pencil good. I mean, draw pictures. Dad doesn’t even know about that.

I draw alot, when I don’t go out to recess. Actually, I feel a little lonely. I want to talk sometimes, but I don’t. I want to talk about pictures. I don’t like the school. So, when I draw, I am drawing the things I like to be around, and things that I remember from home, and I don’t feel so lonely. My desk top has a couple of ruts in it, but I line up my drawing so, if I am drawing a cut, it lines up to the rut in the desk, and the desk kind of helps me draw the cut. I have a stack of paper in my desk, of all the drawings I made from the first day of school. Someday I think, maybe I will put them on a wall in a fancy place.

Today is PTA day they call it. The parents can come in and watch us, what the teachers do with us, and like that. All these ladies, most look at us and put on some kind of smile. But I have seen the smile before, it is fake. Women that smile cannot be trusted, dad said. Mom used to smile. I think of her now, drawing. Maybe I will… her the lady comes, the one who has been watching me, inside, while other children are outside playing. I already know her question.

“Why aren’t you outside with the other children, playing?” she asks me, then, she smiles, but I hear the twist in her question. It is like a hook.

“I don’t feel good today,” I say. “So I stay inside and draw pictures.”

“Well, there's nothing wrong with drawing I guess…” she seems a little critical to me. “So, you are a little artist!” Again, the smile. I think she has dentures.

Honest, I am a little bit happy. Yes, I feel like I am an artist. “I draw alot!” I say. “But I just started this one.” There was just the first line crossing sharply over the page.

“Well I’m sure it will be a lovely drawing. What will it be of?”

I feel my face crack a smile, though I try to stop it. “My Mom.” I say.

“Well, isn’t that sweet,” she says. “I wish I could see a finished drawing of her.”

I am hooked. “I have alot of drawings in my desk!” I flip the top open and take out a stack almost as thick as the paper is wide. “Here!” I have an audience!

She holds them low, so I can see them with her, and I see her face change from the smile to maybe how she really is inside. Her hands begin to shake a little bit holding the first drawing. She places it down on the desk in front of us.

“Oh, that’s not my mom,” I say. “That’s grandma.” The woman’s mouth opened a little like she wanted to speak, but nothing came out. “And that’s the mice, they made a nest where her stomach used to be.” I had spent alot of time on that drawing, even used some crayon for colors. Grandma’s skin was brown now, and she had no eyes left. The bones stuck through here and there, and her dress was eaten away where the mice lived now. After awhile it seems the woman is frozen, so I prompt her. “The next ones is my mom and my dad.” She turns over the next page in the stack, which is upside down. I think I hear her make a little sound. But it is a choked sound. I’ve heard that one before.

I wait for her to talk, to be polite. But she says nothing, so I talk instead. “That drawing in your hand, that’s Dad, he’s leaning over. That’s our bathtub. That’s my Mom’s neck sticking up. And that’s her head, sitting in the pan on the floor beside my Dad’s foot.” The woman starts to rush through my drawings. I feel like I should talk very fast, to tell her all of what see’s looking at. “There’s Dad after he comed home with a new chain saw. That’s him kneeling on the floor, and that’s Mom, on the plastic sheets … those are the suit cases he bought used. Some of Mom’s inside…”

She drops my drawing suddenly on the desk and runs out of the room. I feel annoyed. She may have easily dropped my drawings on the floor. Dad was right about women I think. I will just continue now. Recess is almost over. Hmm, here come some policemen. Maybe they will be nicer than her. Oh, there she is again, and the teacher too. Well, I actually like the attention. If they come over here, maybe I can show them what I have in my pocket.

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Lewis Gesner is a writer and artist living in Taiwan. He publishes and exhibits internationally, and is a member of Mobius artist group, out of Boston, MA, USA. He has several books of experimental writing available from White Sky Books.
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