He made another drawing.
It took him a full 2 hours, but he was now finally done.
This one he will give, it was a gift he had prepared for his mom. Now she could have it.
He walked slowly out of his room, holding the paper gently in his little hands. Taking care not to fold it, or stain the paint.
His mother was in the kitchen, talking to his dad. He looked at her shyly, and held the paper in front of him.
She looked down and smiled. “For me?” she asked.
He nodded. His face earnest and hopeful, she bent down and took the paper from his hands; there was a look of surprise in her face. Her eyes glittered.
“You made it by yourself?” she called out in amazement.
Again he nodded. “Oh Tom, This is beautiful, thank you so much” There were tears in her eyes. She put the paper carefully on the table in the kitchen, and held her son tightly in her arms kissing his cheek.
His cheek was wet with his mom’s tears. He was proud, his mom loved it. He smiled and ran to his room. He would make another one.
Tom’s mother turned to her husband. “Henry, did you see it?” she asked.
He took the paper from the table and stared at it.
A green grass was covered in sun light. A big wooden farm house was on the right side. Some birds were flying in the sky, flowers yellow and red popped here and there on the grass. It was a simple drawing, nothing special really. Then something caught his eye. He had the strange notion something had just moved in the painting. It looked as if the birds were actually flying. He stared in disbelief, trying to see the movement once more, but everything seemed immobile now; just a regular country house standing in the midst of a big grass field.
“It really is very good, it looks so real, I could have sworn I actually saw the birds fly” He said smiling.
“Yes I know what you mean. It gives me a good feeling, and our little boy made it” she exclaimed smiling.
They looked at each other lovingly and put the drawing in their bedroom.
Tom couldn’t finish the drawing; he tried but couldn’t get the things he wanted to flow right. When finally he found something that worked, his mom called him to go to bed. She thanked him again for the drawing and kissed him goodnight. I will finish it tomorrow he thought and fell asleep.
That night they all dreamed of beautiful fields a big wooden farm house, flying birds and flowers. They did not meet each other in the dream, but all woke up with a smile on their faces.
“I had the most marvelous dream last night” cried Tom’s mother as she woke up.
“So did I” replied Henry smiling.
“I dreamed about great big fields of grass, big colorful flowers and flying birds were all around me. I was lying lazily on the grass and looked at all the beautiful colors” She said in a dreamy voice.
Her husband stared at her for a second, his face perplexed. “I had the exact same dream” he said after some time. She glared at him in turn. They both smiled and laughed out loud it was probably some kind of coincidence, they said and paid no more attention to it.
When Tom’s father got back from work Tom was ready with a new painting he had made for him. Tom’s father was pleased; in his heart he was a little jealous Jenny, his wife had received a drawing while he hadn’t. He hugged his little boy tightly and kissed him.
Tom was happy, this was his second success, and both his parents were very pleased. He went to bed with happy thoughts on his mind.
Henry showed the drawing to his wife when she arrived later that evening. She gazed at it and again a great feeling of happiness overcame her as she noticed all the details carefully painted. Once again it wasn’t a complicated drawing but something in it was stirring. Reaching out, swamping one with a feeling of bliss.
A big ocean lay in the background and a long sandy beach next to it. A child was busy building a big sand castle. Birds of different colors flew in the light blue sky. It seemed peaceful, serene.
They went to sleep that evening and dreamt once again.
Jenny was on a vast beach. The sun shone and a feeling of bliss came over her. She lay in the warm sand letting it tingle her feet. She looked around her. She saw a boy far away. She got up and walked towards him. She expected the sand to feel hot on her bare feet, but it wasn’t. It was warm and soft. As she came nearer the boy she noticed he had brown hair and was very tanned, his skin a golden shade.
“Hello” she called out to him
He looked at her, stopping his work on a big sand castle. “Hello” he replied evenly.
“What are you doing here?” she asked
“Building a sand castle” he replied looking somewhat unsure.
“But where are your parents?” she continued.
The boy shrugged.
“Are they here on the beach?” she asked. The boy shrugged again.
“What is your name?” she asked.
“Name?” the boy looked at her inquiringly.
“Yes, a name, something your parents or friends call you” she clarified.
The boy considered this for a while before answering “I have no name, for I have no friends, I don’t know what parents are, but I’m sure I don’t have any” having said that he returned to building his castle.
Jenny was lost for words, and opened her eyes.
She saw the ceiling of her bedroom; she was so startled that she nearly fell out of bed. Next to her, Henry stirred and woke up as well.
She looked at him and both of them said “I had the strangest dream” they both stopped abruptly. It had happened once more. They knew they had shared another dream. They both gazed quickly at the painting. The little boy was still working on his castle.
That day they had a long talk with Tom, asking him all kind of questions. Things like how he used his paint, did he dream his paintings, and other questions he didn’t understand. Tom answered them all, and by the end asked if they disliked his drawings. “No” they were quick to assure him. His drawings were beautiful, perfect. This made Tom happy and he left it at that. Although he had the feeling it was perhaps better to give someone else his next drawings.
He decided to draw something for his school’s teacher. But he had no idea what to draw. Nothing seemed to come to his mind. It took him two days to finally find an idea that pleased him and get it onto paper.
When he had finished he gave his painting to his teacher. It was a drawing of a boy with dark eyes, there was a strange look on his face almost unnerving. There was no background to the drawing just this young boys face with his big dark eyes.
The next day Tom’s parents were summoned to see his teacher, Unbeknownst to Tom. Tom’s parents had no idea why they were summoned; Tom was a good student as far as they knew.
They entered the office, and sat down at a desk opposite a middle-aged woman.
“Tom is a very good kid” she started to say “But I am very worried about what is going on with him. He gave me a drawing” At this Tom’s parents shared a look, now they knew why they were summoned “With a face on it. During the whole night long I dreamt about that face. It was frightening; I tore the picture first thing when I woke up. I’m still shaking from the thought of it.” She seemed truly distressed.
“What would you have us do?” Asked Jenny after a pause, giving the teacher time to regroup.
“I want him to see a psychiatrist; I think he needs help”
“This is ridiculous” Henry retorted angrily cutting the teacher short “you want us to send him to a shrink because of a stupid dream you had?! He’s a kid for god’s sake”
“Please Mr. Ashdrom, I do not mean it like that. A meeting with a shrink will just clear some things; that’s all, it is for your son’s best interest. Surly you can see that” She said trying to explain.
“No I can not; there is nothing wrong with Tom. He is a good student is he not? Then why does he need to see a shrink?”
The conversation stormed on, Jenny listened but said nothing. By the end, Henry stormed out taking his wife with him. She smiled apologetically to the teacher and left with her husband.
Back at home they sat and talked calmly about the best for Tom.
“I think we should consider a shrink, it’s a normal thing, and many people go to see a shrink to talk about their problems. You saw how upset she was, maybe Tom drew something scary? What if he draws a monster? I don’t want to have nightmares for the rest of my life” Jenny said.
Henry sat quietly holding his head between his hands and kept silent.
“Honey why don’t you say something?” She implored “Don’t you think it will be good for Tom?” She added.
“I think” he replied after another long pause “that Tom has a gift, I don’t want him to lose it, but maybe you are right. It’s just that I don’t want to make a mistake“ His face was twisted with sorrow.
“Honey,” Jenny cried hugging Henry tightly. “It will be ok, one meeting won’t change anything we can always stop going to the psychiatrist” she said.
Henry sighed and returned his wife’s hug. “I just hope we’re doing the right thing” he murmured.
Next day, after Tom got out of school, they went to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist asked first Henry and Jenny some questions while Tom was waiting outside. Afterwards he talked with Tom alone. Henry and Margaret waited 40 minutes before Tom came out of the psychiatrist’s office. He had a strange look on his face, a look of doubt, as if he was not quite sure of the things around him.
“Tom could you sit down here?” the psychiatrist said motioning to a bench outside his office “I need to talk to your parents” Tom obediently sat on the couch while his parents followed the psychiatrist.
“I’m afraid I have some disturbing news” said the psychiatrist. Tom’s parents looked at each other with concern “Don’t worry it’s not something that can’t be helped given the time” he added seeing the shared look “Tom is living in some sort of fantasy world, he actually has this whole place in his head. It’s quite amazing to have such a small kid with such an active imagination. You see” he added trying to explain seeing the puzzled look on the parents faces “many kids have some fantasy or other. But almost every child can draw a boundary between what is real and what is not. It is the same with good and evil. With Tom this is a problem. He does not realize his fantasy is not real. For him it’s just another place just as real as this one. I would like to continue these sessions with him so that a boundary can be made between the two” he said looking at the parents expectedly.
Henry stared at the doctor for a minute, before replying “are saying that Tom is living in an imaginary world?”
“Yes” answered the psychiatrist.
“Is it such a bad thing?” Henry inquired.
“No, many children do that, but what worries me is Tom’s age. He is reaching a critical period in his life, where he has to start understanding what is possible in real life and what isn’t”.
“Thank you Dr. Monroe, I think we know enough for now” Jenny said abruptly, getting up and heading for the door.
Henry stared at his wife and quickly followed her.
“Don’t wait too long” called the psychiatrist after them “This is an important time in your son’s life and he needs at least a few more sessions to…”
They stopped listening and quickly headed towards the exit of the building. Henry took Tom’s hand and walking him out with them. They left the building and entered their car. The drive home was silent. No one spoke.
The silence was awkward and was not broken till the car reached the safety of their driveway.
Once at home they all sat around the table. Tom sat between his parents.
“Tom?” inquired Henry finally looking directly at his son.
Tom lifted his head to look at his father’s serious eyes. He had the strangest notion he did something wrong, but could not find what that was.
“What did you talk about with the psychiatrist?” asked Henry
“I don’t know, he told me to lie down and then I fell asleep. When I woke up I walked out of the office.” Tom replied.
Henry and Margaret exchanged a look. He had been hypnotized. Henry choked on his anger, he was positive it was illegal to hypnotize a kid without his parents’ consent.
“How do you feel about drawing?” Margaret asked.
“I don’t know, I think I’m not allowed to draw anymore” said Tom turning to face his mother.
“Do you want to?” she asked.
Tom looked at both his parents. They were both staring at him, waiting for his answer. Tom wasn’t sure which answer they expected. He closed his eyes and thought.
“Yes…” he mumbled his answer his eyes still closed. To his surprise he heard both his parents sigh with relief. “Good, I would love you to draw” said his dad.
“Only…” interrupted Jennifer “you can’t draw anything bad or evil, draw only nice things, will you do that for me?” she asked looking at Tom.
Tom opened his eyes looking at her without really understanding. “Ok mom, I’ll draw only nice things” he said finally.
“There’s one more thing I need you to do for me” She added “Don’t give anyone beside us, your drawing. They won’t understand. They will make you stop drawing” Jenny looked straight into Tom’s eyes searching for a reaction.
“No I want to draw” said Tom with conviction, his eyes flaming with passion.
Later that evening when Tom was asleep, Jenny and Henry sat down in the living room, holding a glass of red wine. Their thoughts were wondering, mingling through different events that had taken place in that week.
“Have we done the right thing?” whispered Jennifer softly after a brief silence.
Henry reflected before he answered. “I don’t know, only time will tell. What I do know is that if he lost this strange gift of his, he would never forgive us. He would no longer be the same. I will not be able to live with myself if that happened, how dare we take this gift away from him?!” He said. His eyes staring straight ahead of him, looking out of the window, but seeing nothing.
Jennifer looked at her husbands’ eyes lovingly. “I think we did the right thing” she said.
Henry turned to face her looking into her deep brown eyes. He kissed her and they held each other tightly, lovingly, sharing each other’s strength.
Outside the dark clouds barely visible slowly shook with the wind like waves destined to a faraway sea, on the canvas of dreams.
This is one of my favorite stories. It actually started very differently, I wanted the drawings to come alive and physically affect every single person that came into contact with them. But very quickly I reached a Godzilla/king kong like mess and decided I preferred the realm of dreams, which at times seems more real than life itself. This way it also has some innocence left in it, instead of a very surreal movie scene. (2005)