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Samantha Logan

Art Student

3

4

Three Ideas

--edit--

"Folly Lick" it is. It's closest to my heart, and it's got more opportunities for great character moments--especially since I know my family members so well! 

--/edit--

Hellooo! 

So I had originally wanted to create an entirely fictional story about strawberry PB&J--hence the awkwardly-cropped drawing I used as my cover photo. I decided against it because I don't want to waste any time trying to figure out the major building blocks of my project. An idea from real life would be simpler to pull off because they've actually happened! Here are mine so far. Enjoy; and I will happily take all the feedback I can get!

(Hang in there, folks--these are long! Right now I prefer writing out my ideas to drawing thumbnails, so there aren't any pictures yet. Sorry!)

1) Folly Lick 

In my neighborhood, there's a little patch of forest surrounding a creek called "Folly Lick." One day, during the summer after I graduated high school, I went on a walk to this creek with my whole family. Now that was unusual for us, because we like our air conditioning just as much as we like watching TV and playing video games. We are not outside people. But on this day, my dad decided that it would be a great idea for all of us--my two younger brothers, my mom, and me--to venture out of our little dens and take a walk together. Needless to say, it took some convincing. (I don't remember what convinced my brothers to go; perhaps they were bribed with the promise of dessert even though it was a weeknight? I can play with this part--and with how I can make their personalities shine!) 

What finally convinced me to go on this walk had to do with the fact that my mom hadn't been her usual self lately. Usually relatively cheerful, full of witty comebacks, and bustling about getting things done (so unlike the rest of us lazy-butts), something about her seemed... slower. More lethargic. Like the light inside of her was flickering. 

Dad told me that being outside would be good for her. I couldn't remember him being so concerned for her health before--usually he was either cranky or cracking jokes about poop, and he didn't express much affection for anyone. But the look on his face and the pained tone of his voice told me that his concern went deeper than I could see. So I agreed to go. 

But of course, my family ended up getting bored in the forest. The boys wanted to go back to the house, my mom was feeling tired, and my dad was trying to convince the boys to stay out longer without giving away the real reason he brought us all out here. I was fed up with it all. But I was still concerned for my mom. So when we came across a path that led deeper into the woods, I hung back and convinced her to come with me. Being us, we figured it'd be funny to play a bit of a prank on my Dad... So we snuck away without him noticing. 

Long story short (as I don't want to get caught up in writing a full-on narrative but am already dangerously close to doing so): Dad didn't notice we were gone until after he gave into the boys' complaints and took them back to the border of the woods. In the meantime, Mom and I explored along our secret path. It was so easy to let the rest of the world fall away in the woods--and that's just what we did. It was one of those simple mother-daughter times where we just enjoyed each other's company; but I like to think I helped her feel better. I remember leaving the forest, exchanging grins with her while Dad fumed a few steps ahead of us, and feeling inspired to keep helping her out however I could until she was fully healed. To this day, I still do my best to help her, even though I'm away at college and I'm only home during breaks. Being away most of the time helps us value each other far more than we did then. :)

~

2) The Bedbug

I awoke one morning--a rather gloomy morning. Clouds masked the sun even though it was early June. I had recently returned home to Virginia from my first-ever trip to the West Coast (which, unfortunately, wasn't all that great) and had begun the seemingly futile task of trying to find a summer job. 

10:00 am. I'd been sleeping in lately despite setting three alarms every night: one for 8:00, another for 8:05, and one more for 8:06. Getting up early always sounded like a great option until the actual moment of getting up arrived. Most days I felt far too groggy to bother staying out of bed for longer than the time it took to silence my alarm. 

But on this particular morning, I stopped myself from lying back down. After sitting up and half-heartedly scrubbing the gook out of my eyes, I looked down and suddenly felt oh-so-glad for doing so. A stout black spider sat on my pillow right where my head had been, slowly pedaling its legs in the air as if ir was calculating its next move. It was about the size of a pea.

Now, like most girls, I am afraid of spiders--but only the big ones. Around smaller spiders, like the one on my pillow that morning, I'm just cautious not to get bitten in case it's poisonous. But I cannot kill a spider. I just can't. I cringe at the thought of crushing its poor little body between my fingers, even if they're covered in a tissue. I couldn't smack it with a shoe or a flyswatter, either. It would make me feel guilty if I did. What did it ever do to me? 

So, being me, I didn't kill the spider. I resolved to catch it inside a cup, slide a sheet of paper underneath, and toss it outside. Sounds easy, right? Problem was, my room was a mess. I couldn't just go downstairs and get a cup because I might lose track of the spider completely, and if I did it could come back and bite me later (if in fact it was poisonous at all). So I had to root through all my stuff to find a cup and a piece of paper, hoping all the while that the bug on my pillow wasn't a jumping spider. I was also half-asleep. Fun!

After nearly losing the spider twice to the folds of my comfortor--clever little bugger--I did finally catch it. I carried it downstairs, went out onto the front porch, and flicked the spider out of the cup. (Might be a good place for a gag here--maybe the spider is still in the cup, and I hold it up close to my face or neck as I'm looking for it on the ground? Do I drop the cup out of shock or regain my composure, place it on the ground, and ease the spider out? The latter is what actually happened, but I might play with it.) 

I expected him to scuttle away once I set him free; but he stayed put. I debated for a while, staring at him, then slowly crouched down and leaned closer. And you know what he did? He looked at me. He bent his midsection up towards me, curved his two front legs above his head like two question marks, and cocked his head to the side. 

I almost touched him. I wanted to. But when my finger got within two inches of him, he skittered away. He traveled along the edge of the porch, pausing occasionally and raising his legs above him again--almost like he was sniffing the air. Part of me hoped he would look back at me, but he didn't. I smiled. I watched him go until he crawled over the edge and disappeared into the bushes below. I leaned back on my heels, and I peered up at the cloudy sky. Somehow things didn't feel so gloomy anymore. 

~

3) Music on the Streets

This one isn't quite as well-developed as the other two--my memory's a bit fuzzy. I'll try to fill in the missing pieces as best I can. 

I've worked on-and-off in Washington, DC for the past 4 years as a temporary employee, through a temp agency. I like the city. People are out and about, and I feel like I'm actually part of a culture bigger than myself. It's so different from my home in the suburbs. I've never met my neighbors officially and I barely see them, even when it's nice outside. But in the city, people are everywhere.

This past summer, I was working at my temp agency's home office. So each morning, I would walk the block from the metro to the office and sit down at my desk by the window. I'd gather my papers from the day before and kill some time by spreading them out into organized piles on my desktop. Then I'd lean back in my chair, take a few sips from my thermos of chai tea, and slowly set about opening all the files I needed on the computer. When I ran out of preparations and time-wasters to do, I procrastinated for just a bit longer by gazing out the window at the puffy clouds drifting over the tops of the buildings. And then I would finally get to work.

But one morning, I was in the middle of pulling up my files when a familiar melody reached my ears. It sounded faint and far away, almost like I was imagining it. I stopped what I was doing, trying to remember where I had heard it before and what it was called. Suddenly, it hit me. 

I had been in the band as a flute player in high school, for all four years. And every year, we had to attend the graduation ceremony and play the procession song for all the graduates. My friends and I had made fun of the song since we had played it so many times; but secretly, I loved the way it sounded because it reminded me of Disney's Fantasia 2000 (one of my favorite movies, thanks to both the music and the stories it features). And it was that song I heard in DC that morning. It was Pomp and Circumstance

I got up from my seat and poked my head out into the main office, listening for the source of the music. But it wasn't coming from inside. I walked over to the window, leaning over the shelf where wobbly stacks of paper files blocked the frigid blast from the air conditioning vent. I pressed my ear to the window, and the music grew clearer--it was a trumpet. I smiled. One of my good friends from high school played trumpet.

The trumpet player had really slowed the song down, drawing out each note so that it sounded like a balloon rising up into the sky. Occasionally he messed up, sputtering like the engine of an old car or whining like a whoopie cushion; but he always recovered and continued playing as if nothing had happened. It was so different from the way I was used to playing it, and I wanted to see who he was.

Looking down onto the streets below, I searched for the mysterious player. I saw street vendors, stylish businesswomen, and sweaty tourists in Crocs and faded t-shirts... But no trumpet. I sat back down at my desk. Reluctantly, I returned to opening computer files. By the time I was finally ready to work, the music had stopped. 

The next day, I came into the office and set about my usual routine. I'd nearly overslept this morning, and I'd had the strange suspicion that I'd forgotten something since I left the house. After organizing my papers it became abundantly clear: I had left my thermos of tea at home. Cursing at myself for being so thick-headed, I headed to the nearest Starbucks.

I was standing at the counter, waiting for my tea, when I heard the music again. Same trumpet, that is, but a different song. This time it was The Star-Spangled Banner, yet another song I had played frequently in high school. I grabbed my tea, hastily thanking the barista like I always do, and dashed out the door. 

Looking around, it was soon easily apparent where the music was coming from. On the opposite side of the street (which was, as it happened, at the opposite end of the same block where my office was located), a lone man sat hunched over on top of a white plastic bucket. His back was to me, but I could just see the glint of his trumpet over the top of his right shoulder. 

I wanted to approach him and tell him what I thought of his music, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. I was already pretty shy, but this was a stranger I admired. I couldn't just walk up to him, could I? I went to Starbucks the next day as well, walking past him twice, but I still couldn't do it. When I came back the next week, he was gone. The streets were silent but for the usual city noise. I tried to tell myself that it didn't matter, that someone else had probably complimented him already and I was worrying about nothing; but inside, I knew it wasn't right to shrug off my guilt like that.

The rest of the week passed, and still I hadn't seen him or heard him playing. The weekend arrived, and two more weekdays flew by. The third weekday was my last day of work. I would be going back to school soon, and I had managed to forget all about the trumpet player because I was so busy packing and stocking up on groceries. As I always do when the end of summer rolls around, I had started feeling stressed. Not to mention that I had grown apathetic about my job--even irritated at the kind of work I was doing--and I just wanted to go home. 

On my last day, I emerged from the metro to the musty scent of wet pavement. It had rained last night. I was about half an hour early to work, which was unusual for me; but my dad had to drop me off at the metro on his way to work because we had taken our other car in for repairs, and he left earlier than I normally did. At this point, the last thing I wanted to do was work. So I decided to take a walk. 

The streets were quieter today. Maybe it had to do with the rain, or with the time of day, but there were fewer people out and there weren't many cars around. I wandered aimlessly with my hands in my pockets, looking up at the sky. Twenty minutes passed too quickly for my liking, and soon it was time to head back. I was also hungry. There was a little bakery down the block from my office, so I decided to stop there for a pastry. I turned the corner, fumbling in my purse for my wallet... 

And there he was. Only he wasn't playing this time. He was chatting and smiling with a man in a red baseball cap, resting his trumpet bell-down on his knee. I drew back, my wallet half-open, and hid behind one of the bakery's umbrellas. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but I guessed that the man in the baseball cap had stopped by to give the trumpet player a donation because he was holding money in his hand. I looked down at the money in my hand, hidden by the stiff folds of my wallet. I looked up at the two men again. The one in the baseball cap was gesturing with his hand, as if he was writing something in the air. That gave me an idea.

Glancing around for a surface that wasn't wet and not finding one, I set my purse on one of the bakery's tables and whipped out a pad of paper. Grabbing a pen, I braced the pad of paper on my purse, scribbled a note on its surface, and tore off a page. I folded it up a few times and moved to pick up my purse--then I paused. Looking up at the two men for a moment, I opened my wallet and pulled out two golden dollar coins. I held them in my hand, stroking them with my thumb. Then I placed them inside the note, carefully refolding the paper around them.

I approached the trumpet player, who was still talking to the man in the baseball cap. There was another white bucket, face-up, by the trumpet player's feet. Without looking at him, I dropped my note and the coins into the bucket. It made a loud clunk, and both men stopped talking. I glanced up at them. 

The trumpet player had warm brown eyes, framed in deep wrinkles. His skin was grayish-brown but for a barely-visible smattering of dark freckles over his nose and cheeks. His chin was covered in salt-and-pepper stubble. And when he smiled at me, I noticed for the first time that he was wearing a hat, too. It was embrodered with a multicolored band and the words VIETNAM VETERAN in yellow. 

His smile turned into a grin. "Thank you, darlin'!" he said. I smiled back at him and nodded. Then he looked back at the man in the baseball cap, and they resumed their conversation. I walked away. 

And as I was walking, a small giddy feeling was bubbling up inside my chest. He didn't know yet that I had left him a note as well as money. As I opened the door to my office building and walked inside, I imagined his reaction to reading it. I pictured him smiling again, stroking the two coins with his thumb just as I had. And then he would look at his trumpet, and he would think of a whole new set of songs to play. And he'd sound better than ever. 

Filing that image away as I got to my desk and began setting up for my last day of work, I smiled too. Somehow I knew that whatever happened to me, today or tomorrow or any other day, I would be okay. Because I had made my own music on the streets of DC.

This is what the note said. 

I don't come to the city for work very often, but your music sort of sets the scene for me when I do. It sounds kind of strange, I know--but it makes me feel special, like I'm in a movie or something. And I love that. So keep playing. Maybe you can make someone else's morning, too.

~

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