She drew a line; then another; then a third, then ground her teeth in anger and scrunched the paper into a ball, tossing it aside to join the many other pieces jostling for space in the waste paper basket. The artist, however, was not deterred, and grabbed a fresh piece from the pad and set it down in front of her. This time she would succeed, that was for certain. The previous thirty-seven attempts were mere warm-ups for this moment. Now that all the pent-up artistic frustration was gone she could create a masterpiece, something that would be framed and end up in a gallery somewhere, admired by art gluttons the world over. Placing pencil to paper, she sketched a line, drew another four, then scrunched up the paper and tossed it aside.
"Urgh!" she roared, tearing another sheet from the pad and leaving a good portion of it behind in the process. Why was this so difficult? When she'd gathered up her tools and sat down to draw she'd been filled with ideas, but the second her pencil touched paper those ideas vanished. She'd been at this for half an hour but no drawing had gone beyond a few brisk pencil lines, and frankly it was beginning to annoy.
"You alright, sweetheart?" a voice shouted from the kitchen, and the artist calmed immediately.
"Fine, Daddy!" she lied, but the pounding of kangaroo feet approaching told her Daddy wasn't convinced.
"Are you sure, sweetheart? It's just you sounded..." he stopped as he bounded through the kitchen door and saw the sea of waste paper beside the desk. "Sheila," he said, a frown stretching across his brow, "What are you doing?"
"Drawing," she said, staring at him with nine year-old innocence. As always the tactic never failed, and her father dropped his hostility.
"Okay, but try not to use so much paper. It's very expensive."
Sheila felt relieved as her father bounced away, but that relief turned to despair as she looked down at her latest canvas. What should she draw? The living room? No, too hard. Her father? No, he was now sat down with a newspaper in his hands, and drawing gripped hands wasn't her speciality either. She sighed and began tapping the end of her pencil against the table. She wanted to draw but couldn't think of anything to draw, and that was worse than any poor artwork.
The pencil tapped for ten minutes, and with each tap the nerves in her father's head frayed a little more. He rested his newspaper across his lap and breathed away his tension, then turned to face his daughter.
"Sweetheart, are you okay?" he asked, a warm smile on his lips, "It's just it sounds like you haven't been doing much drawing."
Sheila looked to her legs and swung them, her kicks missing the floor by clear feet.
"I can't think of anything to draw."
"Well what do you want to draw?"
"I don't know," she shrugged.
"Well when you sat down to draw what did you have in mind?"
"So you didn't think that far ahead?"
He moved his newspaper onto the coffee table and stood up.
"If you can't think of something to draw how about I give you something to draw?"
He bounced forward but stopped abruptly as a realisation hit him: his daughter's doubt was now his. What should she draw? He didn't want to patronise her with something incriminatingly easy, but she was only nine, and nine year-olds were only capable of so much. Where did the middle ground lie? He looked into his daughter's expectant eyes. Great, she was trusting him to deliver, and why shouldn't she? Her father was a fountain of eternal wisdom. Well, that was what she thought, anyway. In reality he was indecisive, short-fused and short-sighted, but like any father he didn't want to let his daughter down, and before she could spot the confusion in his eyes he hopped away.
He rummaged through every cupboard and closet, looking for something for her to draw that was engaging but not too challenging. He started in the kitchen, but that was futile. Pans and pepper pots were simple enough to draw, but there wasn't much detail to them. Next he tried the bathroom, but that yielded more of the same. His third attempt was a hunt around Sheila's bedroom, and it was here that he hit the jackpot. Sitting on her bed and staring at him with beady eyes was a stuffed dragon. He smiled. Perfect. It was a child's toy so it wasn't too intricate, but provided a mix of colours and shapes to keep her entertained for a while. At least long enough to let him finish his newspaper in peace. His calm restored, he grabbed the toy and took it back to his daughter.
"There you go," he said triumphantly, placing it on the table with a flourish, "Have a go at drawing that."
Sheila stared at the toy for a moment, then drew a line. The another, then a third, then more, and with each stroke her drawing became more assured. A recognisable shape began to form on the paper, a shape with a head, body, legs, wings and a tail, and as the artwork took shape her father retreated back to his newspaper with a satisfied look on his face.
Detail after detail was put to paper, and Sheila only stopped when a comparison between the object and the drawing met her high standards. Satisfied that her work truly was a masterpiece, she grabbed a packet of crayons and emptied them onto the table. All it needed now was a little colour, an eyecatch to lure in the observer, but which one to use? Instinctively she grabbed the red crayon, but a gut feeling told her that red was not appropriate for this dragon. Confused, she rolled the crayon between her fingers. Why did using the red feel wrong? All dragons were red, weren't they? The toy in front of her was red; the dragons she'd seen in story books were red too. It was the sensible choice, yet now she found herself discarding the red crayon and reaching for the blue. She picked it up but the feeling remained, a subconscious sense alerting her to her mistake, and she obeyed again. She tried the yellow, then the green, then the pink, but those three would not rid her of her unease either. She groaned and rested her head on the table in despair, but out of the corner of her eye she spotted another crayon, the only crayon in the pack with its tip intact, and the vibe that emanated from it was much different. She plucked it from the table and her fears vanished. She frowned for a moment, then smiled. Okay, it was unorthodox, but it felt like the right choice and she couldn't really argue with that. She pressed the tip onto the paper and drew a line, leaving a streak of colour behind, and no bad feelings troubled her. Her grin widened, and with her confidence restored she began to draw more lines.
"Daddy! I'm finished!"
He was relieved to hear the shout, partly because he was fed up of reading articles written by uneducated hacks and partly because the scratching of pencil on paper on wood was starting to drive him insane. He levered himself to his feet and hopped to his daughter's side, where he momentarily froze in shock. The wings and horns and claws were all colours that you would expect to see on a dragon, but the body was something else. Garish, possibly. Almost tacky, even. He scratched his head. What had compelled her to do that? Well, there was only one way to find out.
"That's...very nice, sweetheart," he said, choosing his words carefully, "But can I just ask...why is he purple?"
Sheila looked at him with a gaze that seemed to understand his confusion.
"I just felt like it," she shrugged, "I was gonna make him red but that didn't feel right."
"So only purple felt right?"
He nodded, understanding a little more.
"Well, it's a lovely drawing and I like it very much. Would you like me to stick it up on your wall?"
She hopped down from her chair and followed her father to her bedroom, watching as he took two pins and used them to tack the drawing to her wall.
"There we go," he said happily, standing back to admire the piece, "Is that alright, Sheila?"
"That's good. Oh, we'll have to show Mummy it when she gets home. I'm sure she'll love the purple dragon," he turned on his heel and began to hop away. "Heh, a purple dragon," he chuckled as he went, "What a queer thought."
Sheila watched him leave, but once he was gone she turned her eyes back to her drawing. A purple dragon was a ridiculous idea, so why had her gut told her to draw one? Dragons were red. Red and red only. Actually, maybe that was it. All she'd ever seen were red dragons, so why didn't somebody do it differently. Yes, that was right. She was being unique, breaking a mould that so many other artists had fallen into. She smiled up at her drawing. It was new; different; abstract even, a piece that would shake the art world to its core with its daring colour scheme. She could see it clearly now: the dragon was purple, and that was what made her drawing great.
"Sheila! Are you going to clear up after yourself or am I going to have to force you?" her father shouted from the front room.
"Coming, Daddy!" she said instantly, but paused for a moment to admire the subject of her artwork again. "Purple dragons are cool," she said to herself, "I hope I get to meet a purple dragon someday."
The purple dragon continued to stare with lifeless eyes as she hopped out of her bedroom, but inside its crayoned head a promise began to form.
*breathes heavy sigh of relief* At last, I've got something written. :D
Normally I have something to share with you in regards to writing this, but I really don't this time. All I can say is that it started with someone finding the idea of a purple dragon weird and it built from there. Also I like my fictional Young Sheila and her bespectacled father so I wanted to write something about them again. :)
As always, reviews are appreciated.