I lived in a small town filled to the brim with Christians over 65. There was a church on every street corner and no one argued when it came to the word of god. Everyone knew everyone, though we didn’t talk much outside of church.

I grew up here, and after I went to college, I came back here to live out my life as a simple cashier at the local food market. Like most people in the town, I went to church every Sunday and prayed before every meal. 

Life was plain, but I didn’t mind it that way. I enjoyed living in my small town with a small job just appreciating life.

At least, I did.

The Martins moved into the house across from me on a frigid winter Saturday night.

Like good Christians, we helped the Martins move into their home and lectured them on the best churches to go to. We threw them a house party and welcomed them into our neighborhood with open arms. 

And just like normal, within a week, they were almost forgotten about. Lost in the crowd of other Christians who lived in the small town. 

Almost. I didn’t forget about them, I couldn’t, for every Friday right after school got out, their son, Grayson, would come up and ask me for a quarter. The kid looked around ten or eleven years old, with dark brown hair and matching eyes. I would always give him the quarter, it was only 25 cents after all.

Sure, 25 cents could build up over time but he was polite whenever he asked always thanked me afterward. 

A year went by, and I realized I had given him $13. I began to wonder what he was doing with the money, so I asked him the next time he came by.

“I’ve been saving up for an art set. My parents don’t really want me to pursue my dream of being an artist, but if I keep practicing, I know I can do it,” Grayson told me. 

I stared at him for a second. My parents told me the same thing when I told them that I wanted to be an actor. They told me to keep my head on the ground and dream reasonable dreams. I’d even given up a chance to go to Stella Adler Studio of Acting so that they would approve of my life choice. I mean, I didn’t regret it. I had a stable life here, who knew what my life would have been like had I chased my dreams.

Then again... what if I had made it? What if I went to Stella Adler Studio of Acting and what if I got into a show and what if I got the lead role and then what if everyone wanted to see me act. That would have been a paradise to me. But there were so many what if’s leading up to it. But then again, I’ll never know if I could make it or not, I never took the chance. 

“How much does it cost?” I asked him.

“19.99, plus tax,” Grayson replied. 

“Alright, if I give you the money, you have to draw something for me, okay?” I asked. 

“Deal!” he exclaimed happily sticking out his hand. 

I smiled and shocked it before reaching into my wallet and giving him ten dollars, telling him to keep the change. He thanked me with a huge smile on his face.

I didn’t see Grayson again for a while, he didn’t come to visit me the next Friday and I wondered if he had forgotten about our agreement. I was looking forward to seeing his artistic abilities. If the kid was this passionate about it, he had to be at least somewhat skilled. 

When he didn’t come to see me the following Friday, I decided to go check on him. I walked across the street to the Martins’ home and knocked on the door. It didn’t talk long for Mrs. Martin to open up the door. 

“Ah, Mr. Nash, come in,” she said. 

“Please, call me Noah,” I said.

“And you can call me Grace if you’d like. May I ask why you’re here?” Mrs. Martin questioned. 

“I was looking for Grayson. He used to come over every Friday, but I haven’t seen him in two weeks,” I explained. 

“Of course, he’s in his room, let me show you,” Mrs. Martin said. 

She led the way up the stairs and down the long hall. Grayson’s door had a large keep out sign on it. I smiled, remembering I had the same one on my own door before I moved out. 

Mrs. Martin knocked. 

“Who is it?” Grayson called from inside. 

“Your mom, and Mr. Nash from across the street,” Mrs. Martin replied. 

There was the sound of footprints coming from behind the door before it opened up slowly. He stared at me. I tried to offer him a quick grin, but he didn’t return it. 

“Alright, I need to get back to making dinner, call me if you need anything,” Mrs. Martin said before leaving us and walking back downstairs. 

“Hey,” I said. 

“Come in,” he said solemnly, showing me into his room. It was small with the bed in a corner and a desk on one of the sides. There wasn’t room for much else in there. He walked over to the desk and began to shuffle through it until he pulled out an envelope and handed it to me. 

“I was going to bring it to you, but I’ve been grounded,” Grayson said.

Slowly I opened up the envelope to see that all the money I had ever given to him was inside.

“What’s all this for?” I asked. 

“My parents won’t let me buy the art set, even though you gave me the money, not them. They said that they didn’t want me wasting my money on something so frivolous,” Grayson said. 

“Well, you don’t need the art set, you can draw things with just a pencil and paper,” I told him.

“I know...”

He went back to his desk and got a paper off of the top and gave it to me.

“I didn’t get to color it, but...”

I looked at the paper. There was a drawing of a sailboat crossing a gap between the night and the day with a small caption aboard that kinda looked like me. It wasn’t perfect or anything, but it was good. 

“This is amazing,” I told him. 

He smiled a little looking at his feet, “thanks.”

“Hey, don’t give up on this. Don’t let anyone tell you to stop chasing your dream. You have talent,” I said. 

“Thanks,” he answered. 

I handed him back the envelope, “Keep the money, maybe you can find something else to spend it on.”

“Are you sure?” he asked. 

“Positive,” I told myself with a smile. 

He wrapped his arms around me in a tight embrace. He was grinning ear to ear. I’d never seen a kid smile so wide. 

“Thank you, Mr. Nash,” he said. 

“No thank you kid,” I said. 

Mrs. Martin asked if I wanted to stay for dinner, but I declined. There was something that I had to do. I walked back home and went online. I went to the Stella Adler Studio of Acting’s website and took a deep breath. Maybe it was time to take a risk on my dreams.

February 21, 2020 16:40

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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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