“Okay, thank you all for choosing me as your artist of the year this year! I thank you very much, and now let me just tell you-”
I sigh, and throw the pencil that I have tapped nearly a thousand times with onto the ground. It lands with the usual tut, and lay there still. I watch the pencil for a while, and study all of the teeth marks and scratches from anxiety through the previous few years. Not that there is much to study. I have looked at it the same way yesterday. And maybe the day before. And maybe…
I scream in frustration, fingering my slender waist.
I grunted, because I knew the meaning of that.
Kids. Why did I even agree to have them? They are useless, trouble making creatures with somehow a special talent of keeping awake and screeching for three nights in a row.
So why do I love them so much?
One month ago
Marmee cooks for us everyday. It’s always the same thing, chicken noodles and sweet corn. I don’t like the chicken noodles a lot, but Marmee says that I have to eat it because if I do, I’ll grow big and strong and be able to get married when I grow up. Adults say it like it’s a good thing, but I’m really not too keen on it. There are no boys in my class who I like, well, maybe one. I kind of like William because of his looks, but I think that all the girls in the class like him. He probably doesn’t like me much, because I’m not the prettiest girl in the class or the smartest. I have dull greyish-greenish eyes and limp brown hair and ugly freckles that I don’t like. But that’s alright. I’m not too keen on him either. Not like Kiya is.
I don’t have a father. I don’t care either. I think the only person in our family who actually cares is Marmee. She’s always babbling away about how if we had a father, a GOOD father, then this would all be different. Normally when she does this, I pretend not to hear her. I cover my ears with my hands and chant out words of nonsense so that none of the things she says registers my brain. I pretend that I’m not jealous when all the girls in my grade get new dresses from their dads for the school disco, and I’m stuck wearing a boring pink one that’s two sizes too small. I don’t bother Marmee about it though. I’m eight and a half already. Old enough.
Marmee wants to become an artist. Really, really badly. I can tell because she spends all of our holiday money that she said was going towards a trip to Hawaii on visits to local town art gallery. I can also tell because she stares at all of the paintings with stars in her eyes, stars that never appear anywhere else. She spends all day long cooped up inside her bedroom, locks the door and tries to draw like real artists. But she’s not good enough. I don’t tell her that, because that will crush her dreams of winning the artist of the year award. And I don’t want to do that. What I don’t think Marmee knows is that I will always be there for her. So will Gretel and Allie who just turned six, and even little Thomas who’s only four and a bit.
We went on holiday last year, for the first time in our lives. Marmee was very excited and so were the rest of us. We didn’t go far away, since we didn't have the money to. So we went to a little village not far away from where we live right now. The motel was nice and clean, with unlimited freshwater and even ham and cheese pizza for dinner! We went to explore the village on the first day. There was this famous tourist attraction, a marble statue that looked like a pig with a man’s head. I didn’t understand what the big deal was. Not very interesting at all. But Marmee was in a sort of ‘Wow! That’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!” state. We soon left though, because Thomas peed his pants and Marmee had to rush back to the motel room to change him.
Yesterday, I tried to draw like Marmee. Shs did this sketch of some white bird with a mane sort of thing hanging upside down next to a pot of flowers. It was only then when I realised how hard it could be. I guess I’m sorry for thinking that Marmee is not good at drawing. She’s better than me.
I don’t really know how to write this. Let me put it in a story sort of thing, so that you understand.
Once upon a time there was a very good looking princess called Marmee. No, Marmee’s not a princess. But I sometimes see her as one. She has lovely dark hair and long lashes. Wait, I’m going off topic. Let me start again.
Once upon a time there was (and still is), a person called Marmee. Marmee liked to do art and she would do it everyday. One day, a man forced her to do something that Marmee wouldn’t tell us about, and she got pregnant. So Marmee had four children. She had twins called Gretal and Allie who are now both six years old, a daughter called Ariana who is now eight and a boy called Thomas (who we called Tom) who is now four years old. Gretel is older then Allie.
Gretel is a very very pretty person with very pretty long hair and very pretty eyes and very pretty skin and very pretty hands. And not to mention, very pretty feet. Gretel likes to do stuff like braid her barbies doll. She is also very smart.
Marmee looked after her children well. She didn’t read them stories at night like other parents. Gretel was very sad because of this. One day Marmee entered an artwork for an exhibit. Marmee spent weeks on the painting. It didn’t get chosen. And so Marmee tried to hold her tears back, but the prettiest child Gretel noticed and was very nice to Marmee.
Suddenly, a few weeks back after Marmee broke up with an annoying man called Eric but Marmee got pregnant again. Marmee took medication and it was alright and she wasn’t pregnant anymore. Her little girl Gretel was sad because Gretel wanted to play with a new baby and Gretel cried.
And so they lived happily ever after.
Today, Gretel got into a fight with me. I don’t like fights a lot. Especially ones involving Gretel, but sometimes I can’t help myself. Gretel’s ALWAYS in charge of everything. How come she's my twin!?! She is NOTHING like me. She’s vain and always acts like she’s the prettiest person in the whole wide world, but she’s not! So that’s what I said to her this morning when she was brushing her hair a hundred times. She always counts, but sometimes gets muddled up. I’m smarter than her. I can already count to five hundred and I can count from one-hundred backwards.
Marmee made me apologize to Gretel or I wouldn’t get any lunch.m It’s not fair!!! Gretel was the one who scratched me first. The only thing that I did was throw a few comments on her. Okay, so maybe those comments weren’t exactly nice, but still! And as for my part of the physical bit, I had to defend myself! Like, self defence! Like Duh!
Afterwards, Ariana told Marmee that she would take us for a walk to calm down. Ariana always tries to do the best for Marmee. I sometimes get sick of it. She acts like SHE’S our Marmee and always says stupid grownup things to us. Ariana’s sometimes nice though, like the time we went on holidays and she bought us each a whippy with rainbow sprinkles with her own money. That was really nice.
Marmee wouldn’t let Ariana take us on her own. And she knew that we had to calm down so she took us herself instead. We had to take stupid Thomas with us!!! But I was a kind of grateful since I didn’t want to be stuck in the house and I knew that Marmee was still painting. I could tell because her hands were colored in bright paint. That brings me to it. Marmee really likes art, but I don’t think she gets much time to do it. So yeah.
For the first time this year, we got ice cream! We don’t have a lot of money so ice cream is a very rare treat. We went to the convenience store and I picked out my favourite, the jelly ice roll. It’s not really ice cream, but it’s just as delicious. I chose the crisp apple and raspberry flavour, even though I wanted to try out the lemon and mango. Thomas chose a traditional chocolate paddle pop, and Gretel, as the big copycat she is, chose the same as me! Ariana chose a unicorn cornetto, and I know why. It’s because her whole class has been trying it out. It’s really expensive though. Eight dollars fifty!
When I got home I secretly went into Marmee’s room to see what she was working on. It was a baby elephant and a mommy elephant. It looked really good, and I actually like it more than the bird one! Marmee shooed me out as soon as she saw me there, and told me to stop messing with her stuff. I didn’t even touch it!
I have a painting that Marmee did above my bed on my side of the room. It’s my all time favourite. Marmee painted a picture for all of us when we were born. Mine is a baby cat with a pink ball of yarn. I sometimes look at it and wonder why cats like yarn so much. Gretel’s is a puppy dog and a bone. The puppy dog is chewing on the bone. I don’t like hers all that much. Gretel loves it though. Thomas’s is of a train with a weird lopsided face. Marmee’s not very good at painting trains. She’s good at animals though. Ariana’s is not a canvas-painting. It’s a wooden heart with beautiful swirls inside. I’m a little bit jealous, because Ariana’s is so pretty.
I don’t really know how to write yet so I’m getting Ariana to do this for me. Thanks Ari!
She just said your welcome.
So Marmee likes painting a lot. Painting is where you get this stick thing with fluff at the end (they call it a brush but that’s a stupid name), and dip it in a colored soup and put it across paper. I have tried it once and it was really hard. The liquid was really weird and I got it all over myself and then Marmee got mad at me.
Well, not really mad. She just made this weird clicking noise with her tongue like tut tut tut and got me changed.
I think Marmee wants to draw when she grows up. She’s already grown up actually. I want to grow up soon. Ariana sometimes calls me baby and I really hate it. Sorry Ari.
Let me tell you about our family. First about me, since I am the man of the house. We once had a real man of the house here when Marmee had a new boyfriend but he was super dooper mean and cray-cray. He went like POW! And he hit me. Marmee called him Eric but the rest of us secretly called him Pooric. Ewwwwwww!
Let me keep telling you about our family. As I was saying, I am the most important. I have dark hair and dark eyes and I’m very nice. Gretel looks the same as Allie. They are both skinny and have really long dark hair like Rapunzel. Maybe not that long. Ariana is the prettiest. Her hair is a bit longer than shoulder length and she has really pretty eyes. Now she’s blushing. It’s true Ari! Marmee is the queen of us. Marmee has shortish longish hair and Marmee is very skinny and doesn’t eat a lot.
I don’t like preschool a lot. Preschool is stupid. The kids there are mean to me especially Andrew and his gang. They pull my hair and call me Wee-wee Pants because I peed my pants on my first day. I try my best to stop it. It’s not my fault! The only person who likes me is Linda but Linda’s coo-coo. She always follows me and says this, “I wuv you Thomy Domy Gomy!!!!!!”
I hate her.
Now I am bored and do not want to speak any more. I will go now. Bye.
I run. My mind drifts back to reality, no longer on a faraway planet.
The calls continue.
I have no choice.
Everything is a blur as I run. I run and run and run.
My children do not love me. I do not love me. The gallery manager certainly hates me. I have to escape this.
The distant calls of them start to fade away. I stop to rest next to a garbage bin. The foul, unwelcoming aroma swirls around me, flying into my nose, my eyes, my veins. I am lonely. Memories from the past start to appear. The black and white images now take place in color.
Then I realise.
Maybe life isn’t a mistake. All of the little clues from my past.
Maybe they still love me.
At first I hesitate. But it's too obvious now.
I start to walk back, taking my time.
I walk back up the stairs, the stairs which I had dreaded not so long ago. I take my newest painting down, the one of a happy family crowding around a fireplace, with bright stars twinkling in their eyes. The stars that Ariana had described so often.
I go, one step at a time.
“Children, I have a surprise for you.”
They all run up, eager. But when they see the shape that takes place, their faces fall.
I turn it around.
Gasps. Laughter. Happiness. Love.
That’s what I hear. Sense, see, taste.
And it’s not like the love I had for Eric.
It’s different, and I can already feel my heart expanding inside of me.
“It’s just right.”