The Snapdragon is a tall plant with flowers whose petals appear to be a mouth of a dragon, and the petals open and close when squeezed. This is absurd top think, of course, that a flower could move on its own. Actually, the flower does not quite move on its own; it does require an external force to open up. At least that’s something to ponder over.
In appearance, the flower looks delicate and beautiful. Dare I say, it looks classy. It has a long green stalk with leaves that almost look like basil. It certainly is not fitting that a flower called a dragon should have herb or spice mimickers as leaves on it. That is just strange. The idea of two things that shouldn’t be together being as one is not natural. Yet, it seems ever present.
I know of a pair of twins who prove this idea true; two girls, one more popular and one who wanted desperately to fit in. The girl who is ever so slightly younger tried her hardest to fit in, but could never seem to figure out how to. She went off to summer camp with some trailblazing group full of her friends. She went hiking and had a wonderful time on her trip.’
While she was away, her older sister threw parties and made it so everything was done to her liking. All of her friends showed up. People whom she had never seen and never even met showed up as well, to her gatherings. Girls in string bikinis and chatting amongst themselves arrived in shiny red convertibles with the windows and top rolled all the way down.
The younger sister did come back and was invited to the party. So she comes and has a splendid time at it. She comes in her tankini the color of a beautiful sunset and shoes the color of a blushing bride. There was nothing about her that made her seem to not fit in, as she entered in on the event. I was there, too. I sat there, next to the older sister, and we both could not take our eyes off of her younger sister as she walked, one foot in front of the other, her feet making direct contact with the textured concrete. Her skin had a ruddiness to it and her muscles more defined.
The older sister went to greet her younger sister and was then refused a “Hello” hug and salutation of welcoming. The younger sister, once sweet, kind, and caring, had changed. The girl I had known would have run up to her sister to meet her in an embrace. She did this not.
I was stunned, but not nearly as much as her older sister was. Her older sister gasped in surprise and I nearly followed suit. She had changed while on her trip. The letters which she had sent me did not give and of these changes away to me. I was unaware that something she did, which added a decent boost to her confidence, would result in her becoming snarky and rude.
Her older sister was still the same quirky, bouncy girl that she had always been. She was still with friends and fit the popular description which she had done everything in her power to create. Even though she was the one throwing the parties, and even though she was the one in all of their courts, they only wanted to be with the best for their status. It did not take long for all of her so-called “friends” to turn towards her younger sister as being more popular, better, and overall, more preferable. The girl had changed. The friends’ true colors were revealed.
Back in my younger years, when I understood less about the importance of being popular and that of being desired by everyone, I tried to be friends with everyone. I believed that I was actually friends with all of them. But friends are a two-way street. I was theirs. They were not mine and had never claimed to be. Yet, Ricky declared himself mine first, which was a first.
I was now sitting on the floor in the room which previously belonged to Steven Bender and there was not a pile of nonsense like I had anticipated. Everything was organized in clear boxes with white labels, which were visible to all who looked. I was expecting clutter.
I pulled down every single box on the shelves and hoped to find at least one box which had art supplies or artwork. Artists should keep records. At least I was told that this is what artists did. Were I an artist, I would like to keep some sort of records on all of my pieces and what went into them. Artwork is not something that can be made in a day. Rome clearly wasn’t.
There was a part of me that felt guilty about going through belongings that were not mine and that also did not belong to someone I had ever met. I was certain that no one else did this, given the choice to. However, this part of me that felt terrible was also the same part of me that wanted to know everything there was to know about Steven Bender and his entire life story.
The first box which I opened was one with a small white label with smaller letters written on the label to tell what the box contained. Deceptively enough, the box was large enough to git at least one person inside of it. As I lifted off the lid of the box labeled “art stuff,” I began wondering about the pieces the box held inside. There could be many more treasures that had only been previously seen by Steven. I could be the first person, who was not Steven, in the town, to be able to lay eyes on all of these pieces. There was a chill that ran down my spine.
My excitement may have been too much, considering that I had little information about the guy whose belongings I was going through. Of course, that only added to my suspenseful anticipation. There could be dark secrets. There could be secret things that were hidden because of legitimate reasons. There could be one large piece or a thousand tiny works or even just dozens of medium-sized pieces. They could be colorful. They could be monochromatic. They could be just black and white. They could be sketches. They could be oil paintings. They could be watercolors. They could be acrylic. They could be pastel. They could be in charcoal or they could be in graphite. They could be in colored pencil. They could be in crayon. There could be cubism. There could be impressionism. There could be gothic styles. It could be many things.
And so then my guesses ran out, and only because I knew nothing more to use for the situation at hand. I was jumping for joy, and, in the moment, had anyone bothered to come in and then seen me, it would have seemed as if I were on a sugar high. As it wasn’t one, there was no worry inside me that I could later experience a sugar crash and would have to halt my quest.
However, when I got the chance to peer into the box, I was pleasantly let down. There was simply a sketchpad underneath a massive pile of supplies ranging from waxy crayons to high quality oil brushes with accompanying paints and paint thinner. I wondered if he, as did my brother, used oil paints on his model cars. Or is that beneath an artist? How I expected to know the answer is a mystery in of itself. Surely Steven had done more than throw things into a box.
Lying beside me was the sketchbook bound with metal rings. I flipped open the book and waited to be astounded. There should be something resembling artwork in it somewhere. Of course, when I opened it up, I saw sheets of lined loose-leaf paper taped in with neon green tape.
This was a first. Artists normally drew in sketchbooks. Perhaps he was not really an artist as I had been led to believe. This would certainly place a damper on everything that I had previously done, as well as make all things seem relatively useless. I did not read what was on the pages when I first looked at them, but perhaps it would have clarified everything. For, as I chose to flip each page, more and more words were written, some being repeat offenders.
Most commonly written were the words which signified that there was a grand accomplishment by the writer. “Wonderful” was a nicely scribed word. In many colors and syles of lettering, the word appeared. He was not the best writer, or if I’m being frank, not even a decent writer, but he was an artist. I expected him to know artwork. He knew artwork.
There was a nagging feeling in my mind as I looked into the bin more and more, seeing if there even was something that linked all else together. Try as hard as I could, all that I could think about was the words on the lined paper in the sketchbook. I must be missing something.
I had not considered the idea that things could be underneath the pages or even on the reverse side of them. This was what compelled me to search more and more. I was determined to find myself at least one answer to a plethora of questions. I placed the sketchbook on my lap, as my legs were crisscross applesauce, and poised my fingertips on the cover. I longed to open it up but did not know if I was fully prepared for all things that were likely to follow.
I had known other artists, all of whom were secretive and were so for very good reasons, or so they claimed. I knew better than to poke and prod, and so I never inquired.
Inside of me, all I could question was what could be underneath the sheets of lined paper. Some were part of a stack of papers. Was it a dark painting in color? Was it something that, as much as he wanted to erase it, he just couldn’t bring himself to tear it out and destroy it because he had worked long and hard on it? Yet, what if there was no reason at all? What if it was simply something he had done “just ‘cause” or from a dare, which may be worse.
Often times, secrets kill and I was not going to be able to take this one with me to the grave if I wasn’t even aware of what the secret was. It may be the town’s secret which they are trying so desperately to hold onto, but it was soon to become my secret, as well. If they, the town, didn’t like that, they would just have to pick a bone with me themselves.