A. Penderwick

United States



And also dogs.

Message to Readers

Ok, I'm just about to submit this, but if you happen to stumble upon this and have any thoughts, please let me know! It doesn't have to be a full review, but if you have a chance to read this and leave your thoughts I would be very grateful. Also, any title suggestions would be helpful.


November 17, 2020

    I sit on my bed, looking around my room. The walls are gray, with a pale pink accent wall. My bed sits in one corner, near a window, covered in a pale pink duvet. Across the room, there’s a egg chair, a few papers scattered around its base. There are low cubbies along the other wall, stuffed with paints, colored pencils and wrapped chunks of clay. The wall directly across from my bed is covered in art. Some are my sketches, but also images of paintings by my favorite artists. 
    “Hey hon,” my mom says, gently pushing my door open. I look up at her, noticing the exhaustion in her eyes. “Dinner’s almost ready." She walks over and sits down on my bed. “How’s the prep for the art show going?”
    “Ugh, don’t remind me. Nothing I have is good enough yet.”
    “Well, I’m sure whatever you come up with will be amazing,”. I roll my eyes, but curl up beside her.
    After a moment, I ask, “Hey, mom? When is dad leaving?”. I feel small and vulnerable as I ask the question.
    I feel her sigh, a small shaky exhale. “I don’t know.”
    I nod. I'm no stranger to the fact that my mom kind of hates my dad. After they divorced, 6 months after my youngest sister, Lola, was born, he didn't really keep contant. I think he may have visited a few times, but soon the visits stopped. And so did the calls and the christmas cards and the birthday presents.
    “He’s never been one to commit to anything,” I hear the way her voice tenses up when she talks. My sisters worship him, so she tries to stay positive, but I know it's hard. 

    Dinner is awkward. The conversation is stilted, with my both my parents trying not to shout at the other. My sisters are the only thing keeping this dinner from falling apart.
    “I told Joey that he was being very mean, and-”
    “Nice, Marcy. So Blakely, how was your day?” My dad interrupts. My mom glares at him. “Whoops, sorry. Want to finish your story?”
    “Nope!” she says cheerily, and digs into her mashed potatoes. Both my parents start to ask Blakely how her day was, then both stop, and we sit in awkward silence for 30 seconds. Then Marcy starts talking again, telling us about her school play.
    “Cool, cool,” My dad says once she’s finished. The rest of the conversation continues on that way, with awkward pauses, glares from across the table and long, winding stories from my 3 younger sisters.

    Later, I’m in my room looking at a clean, inked line drawing of a tall, broad-shouldered, bermuda shorts wearing man. It’s a drawing of my dad, and think I’m going to submit to the Bellville County Art Show. The deadline for submissions is in 6 days. It's open to any student attending a Belleville County School, there will be a ton of submissions, so they won't be able to accept everyone's artwork. I need to be in this art show. I'm proud of my work, and I finally feel brave to show it off. And, even though I know it’s stupid, a part of me wants my dad to be proud of me too. I’m not trying to convince him to move back in with us, I just want him to really see me, just once.
I put down the paper, and close my eyes, trying to relax.
       When I open my eyes, I realize that I've been slowly tracing a spiral on my right hand. It's a nervous habit, that only my family would be able to recognize.
       I look at the drawing again. Something is off, but I don't know what. The technical aspects are all in line. The proportions are right, and when I was tracing it with my pen, my hand barely wobbled, which never happens. But in my head, I can already hear Miss Sharon critiquing it.
    The emotion behind the piece is not there. I want your work to reflect you, as a person. Be honest with yourself.
I sighed. I'm fairly good at receiving criticism of my art, when it comes to the technical side of things. But when people ask me about the motivation behind my piece, I get nervous. I don't like showing anyone artwork that really matters to me. Sometimes, when my emotions are just too much to keep bottled inside, I'll sketch, with no cares about who sees my work. But, as soon as I've finished drawing, I hide it in the back of my closet. Some artists pour all their grief and longing out on to the page, but I can only ever do that in private. 
    But, if I want to make it into this art show, I'm going to have to be brave.

    "Excellent job, Marcy!" I say, smiling. We're upstairs in the playroom/studio/writing area. It was supposed to be Blakely's bedroom, but she and Marcy love sharing a room, so it remains the studio. I keep most of my paints up here, and we also have a lot of toys and picture books.
    Right now, I'm doing marble-painting with the girls. It's a really easy art-project, but the finished product always looks really cool. You just dip different size marbles into different colors of paint, and put them in a box on top of a piece of paper. Then you just roll it around, and it makes these really colorful patterns. Colorful lines racing across the page. 
    "Thanks!" Marcy replies, grinning. I roll around my box, keeping an eye on each one of my sisters. After they've all finished, and I've hung them up to dry, I return to my room.
    I think again about Miss Sharon's words. I want your work to reflect you, as a person. 
    What am I? I'm a student. I'm an artist. But more than that, I'm a sister.

    I pick up a pencil and start sketching.
So, when I did the All Talk prompt, I wrote about a single mom with four daughters. For some reason, I really loved writing about that family, and wanted to do more. I tweaked the ages a bit from what I had originally decided, and fleshed out the characters more, but didn't quite know what I wanted to do with it. I decided to write a novel(or as close to one as I can get) and decided to use that for this competition. I have a good idea of what I wanted the plot of this novel to be, and I've started writing out the first chapter or so, but I'm yet to finish it. This chapter takes place later in the book.

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