by Craig Wolf
Mikey said, "I got five dollars."
Cindy smirked. "I just bet."
"I do, look I got it out of my bank, and I stole some from my brother, and I turned in some cans at the recycler." To prove it, he pulled from his jeans-pocket the wadded bills, the loose jangle of nickels, dimes, quarters, pennies.
"Okay, but what b'sides money?"
Mikey frowned. He didn't know he was s'posed to have anything b'sides money.
Cindy sighed. "She gotta have somethin'." Everybody knew that.
Mikey squinched his face. "Like what?"
Cindy turned around and went to where Megan was drawing in the dirt. Drawing in the dirt was the only thing Megan ever did at recess. Sometimes it was something someone really really wanted her to do, sometimes it was something nice she wanted to do for someone, and sometimes it was . . . something else.
"Mikey wants you to draw him a bike."
Megan was scratching flowers in the dry, red clay. They looked very pretty, very real. Megan drew pretty good. Everyone thought so. She didn't look up now.
"He's got five dollars."
Cindy never tried to talk Megan into doing it. Everybody knew Megan wouldn't do it unless Cindy asked, but sometimes Megan wouldn't do it even then.
"What else you want?"
Megan looked up at the cloudless spring sky and squinted. A bee buzzed around her head, dipped toward the flowers she was drawing. It looked like she was drawing daisies and tulips and a rose.
"I want him to go tell April Henderson she's pretty."
Cindy wrinkled her nose. "I don't think he'll do that."
"I guess he don't wanna bike."
Cindy shrugged, and plodded back to Mikey. "She says you gotta go tell April Henderson she's pretty."
Mikey looked like he'd just swallowed a worm. "Aw, no!"
"What she says."
"April Henderson? Fourth grade April Henderson?"
Mikey pooched his lip out and thought it over. "Okay, I guess."
He gave Cindy the five dollars and went off in search of April Henderson. Cindy trudged back to Megan.
"That was kinda mean, huh?"
Megan shook her head and worked on her flowers. "No. It'll be the nicest thing he'll do all year."
Cindy accepted that. Megan was right about a whole bunch of stuff, everybody knew that. Even the teachers kinda seemed to know, and teachers never knew nothin'.
"Pretty flowers," Cindy said.
Megan did not look up. "I wanna get done quick."
Cindy went off, 'cause it was real boring to be around Megan when she worked, she never talked or nothin', and there probably wasn't gonna be anybody buggin' her for anything else today. It was kind of like everybody knew when it could be time for Megan to draw something and when it wasn't. Cindy went and played some dodge ball and watched Nate Simmons play on his Gameboy, but that got boring real quick, and she was just kind of bored today anyway and didn't know why at all. It was such a nice day, the sky so pretty and blue, and the temperature just right, the sun just right, and being bored was all right.
She bumped into April Henderson, who was smiling from ear to ear, and what was neat about that was that April wasn't really a pretty girl at all, except when she smiled. But she hardly ever did. Today, though, her smile was wide and bright and fit the day.
After a while, Cindy wandered by the side of the gym, and there was a new patch of daisies and tulips and a rose bush, just as pretty and in bloom as could be. She grinned.
The recess bell went off. She went back to get Megan.
Cindy helped Megan up and they took their time heading for the line. No one was in a hurry. The teachers were forming lines, but they weren't too neat. Megan and Cindy got in line, and they were heading in when Megan grunted loudly.
Cindy turned to her. Megan looked like she was choking. "You okay?"
Megan gagged, her face turning red. She shook her head, but not at anything Cindy had said. In fact, Megan did not seem to know that Cindy was there at all. Her eyes bugged out and stared at the sky.
Megan tore away from the line and ran to the spot under the tree.
Miss Mullally blew on her whistle and hollered at Megan to stop.
"I'll get her," Cindy cried. She was a voice in a chorus. She ran for the tree too, knowing this was going to get her sent to the office. Which would lead to a spanking at home. Oh boy. But Megan was scaring her.
When she reached the spot under the tree, she saw Megan scratching furiously in the dirt, sobbing, shaking.
Miss Mullally arrived. "Megan Cooper, missy, I don't know what kind of stunt you think you're pulling, but you're going to have a word with Mr. Shipman!"
Megan ignored her. Cindy tried to see what she was drawing without getting in Miss Mullally's way. It looked like a fat tree, or . . .
"And the rest of you kids get back in line, now!"
"It's too late!" Megan wailed.
Cindy got a better look, and decided that, no, on second thought it looked like a big mushroom. And, hey, Megan wasn't drawing it, she was trying to erase it. That was weird.
"Megan--" she began, but Megan stared up into the sky again, the same direction as before.
And the civil defense sirens wailed to life.
Craig Wolf lives and writes in Oklahoma, but he's hoping the neighbors don't find out just yet. His wife and daughter are managing to tolerate him during "the joyful revision stage" of his novel. Craig's short fiction has appeared in Deadbolt, Transversions, and Jackhammer E-zine.
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"Sketches in the Sun" © Craig Wolf. Used by permission
of the author.
Raven Electrick © Karen A. Romanko. Clipart by Corel®.