A Green Thing
One - Part 3
“And like I said, it’s still new to me. Basically, all I can say is that I was totally mixed-up and messed up and just plain lost…and now I have this real sense of peace. Honestly, it’s something I never had before.”
I nodded eagerly. “Yes. It’s hard to describe it, but it’s like my life is in good hands now, like I feel hopeful.”
I smiled. “I’ll take that as a compliment.” The fact is, of all the Christians I know, which aren’t that many, I can relate to Chloe best. I mean, Kim is cool and takes her faith seriously. And Caitlin is sweet and sincere and helpful. And Nat… Well, don’t get me going there. But right from the start, I seemed to get Chloe. And she seemed to get me. Maybe it has to do with the whole music thing—a kind of artistic, outside-the-box sort of thing.
“So what do you think we should paint on this wall?”Marissa seemed eager to change the subject, and I felt relieved.
“I’m thinking we should get some sketches going.” I unzipped my pack and retrieved a sketch pad. “We’re not supposed to do anything out here without Mrs. Albert’s approval.”
“The superintendent. But if we can get her okay, we could probably start putting the drawing on the wall before our other volunteers show up. That way we can put them to work.”
“Yes sir.” She gave me a cheesy grin. “You the boss.”
Before long we were sitting there on the curb, discussing ideas and playing with images. Unfortunately, Marissa’s ideas leaned toward the dark side, and when I challenged a particularly frightening image, she seemed slightly offended.
“So what do you want to paint?” she shot back. “Sunshine, flowers, and sweet turtledoves?”
“No, not exactly. But something more cheerful than a dragon burning a gnarled tree stump.”
“I was just trying to come up with something that graffiti artists would respect,” she said defensively. “Something they wouldn’t make fun of and want to deface.”
“That’s a good point. We don’t want it to be too childish.”
“But I suppose a dragon might be scary to some of the little kids who come here.”
“What exactly is the purpose of this building?” I ventured.
She shrugged. “It’s a youth center. Duh.”
“So it’s a place for kids to come…for what purpose?”
“To hang. To play. For kids who need something like that.”
I kind of frowned at her. “Why?”
it’s for kids who might be kind of underprivileged, or maybe they’re
unsupervised. The center has a day-care program and all kinds of classes
and activities for after-school programs. Stuff like that.” Now
she laughed. “Oh yeah, I guess you wouldn’t have had anything
like that back in Beverly Hills,
Sometimes I wish I hadn’t told Marissa so much about myself. But at the time, when I needed a friend a couple of months ago, it seemed right. And I thought I could trust her. Not that I can’t.
“I’m not a rich girl.”
I just rolled my eyes.
The truth was, I would’ve appreciated a center like this when I
was a kid. Not that I plan to admit that to Marissa. But despite her misconceptions,
my childhood wasn’t exactly ideal or nurturing, and I certainly
never felt rich. Of course, Beverly Hills isn’t the sort of town
where people are terribly concerned over the welfare of the younger generation.
“So it sounds like it’s a place that’s meant to encourage kids, to help them grow into better people, to give them hope,” I finally said.
Marissa laughed loudly. “Hey, maybe you should go into politics or public relations or advertising or something.”
“Come on. The sooner we figure this out, the sooner we can get some serious sketches going. And the sooner we can get started, the sooner we can get done, and we won’t be out here baking in the sun all summer.”
“You seem to have it all figured out, boss. Go for it.” Marissa pulled out another cigarette.
Now I was tempted to point out the risks of emphysema and lung cancer, as well as how smoke makes your hair stink and yellows your fingernails, but I figured she was probably already aware of these facts.
“Fine. I think we should create something that feels hopeful.” I squinted up at the blotchy-looking wall again. “Something colorful and cheerful and happy.”
“Maybe we could paint a pwetty wainbow?”
Just before I made a smart retort, I stopped myself. “Hey, maybe you’re right.” I grabbed my sketch pad and began to draw. “But we’ll design it in a more modern style. Sort of cubist.” She looked over my shoulder as I drew a series of sharply angled shapes, working them together to make an arch.
“Interesting…,” she finally admitted.
“Yeah. I can kind of see it. And it would actually be fairly easy to put a team to work on it since it’s mostly shapes.”
“Exactly. We’ll draw them out, and they can paint them in.”
End of Chapter 1/Day 3 Excerpt - More from chapter 1 coming in tomorrow's email!