The Story Girl

There once was a girl who everyone knew nothing about. This was not their fault though, as many of them would be glad to know her, she just never let them. You see, she was like the last leaf of fall, that clings lazily to the branch as young children stare up it, wishing it to fall and complete the neatly raked pile bellow, but she was more than that. Perhaps if you imagined that leaf as the most perfect leaf on earth, then the simile becomes much more fitting. A perfect but solitary leaf. Not solitary in the sense that she would avoid people though, but in the sense she never went out of her way to make contact. A leaf not wishing to be raked.
At first her classmates would try talking to her, a passing hello in the hallway or a how’s-it-going while walking to the other side of the classroom, but the most anyone ever got was a nod, or a quick glance in their direction.
However, she did not spend all this time simply looking at the ground, or listening to the oh so clichéd ipod with her hood up, or even reading a book with a shirtless back barely obscured by satin sheets plastered across the cover. No, she spent it with a pen in her hand. Of course, not just a pen in her hand, that would be foolish, but rather a pen in her hand which always came in contact with a notebook in her lap.
Yes, she was an artist. But not the kind who stands around in galleries trying to sum up the meaning of 15 dots splattered on an ovular, aquamarine canvas, nor the kind who tried so incredibly hard to conform so little to societal standards that they end up acting exactly like every other member of their secret after school art class. No, she was a modest artist. In fact, she wouldn’t even use the word (if she would ever answer the question of what she considered herself, or talk at all) in context with herself, be it because she was modest, or embarrassed, or just didn’t’ care.
And though one may think of art as paintings or pictures or even movies, those were the least powerful of her various talents. Instead of simply composing a picture and letting anyone who saw it (which was a resounding zero) try and piece it all together, she wrote. But what did she write? Frightening stories, morbid stories, macabre stories, deep, stirring, terrible stories; stories where the main character, the only character, would be stranded on a desert island for 17 years until they forgot how to speak or move or hear or feel? Perhaps.
Though more often then that, her stories were simple things like snowfall and a cool breeze. She wrote stories of a deer in the woods, or a boy who ate chocolate for the first time after riding the train, or a tired chef who could only make bisque. These were the stories that occupied her time as she sat hunched over, hardly caring about ohms law or the Pythagorean Theorem or what Shakespeare meant in the 7th line of his 12th sonnet. And after so many years of it, the teachers were resigned to it, as the snowmen that see the sun rising on far off misty mountaintops are powerless to stop it, but this is not their story.
As it has been said, no one had ever read her stories, so no one ever knew her mind. And what a mind is was. A beautiful mind filled with absurd thoughts that boggle the spirit and cross eyes in confusion. All people did know of her, were her drawings. For each story she wrote, there was a drawing; one drawing, on one page, the back of the story (which was always one page as well, not that it matters), in one color, once. The drawings were neither abstract nor unseemly; they were just the character of the story. Like a deer or a boy or a chef, almost blandly stuck on the page in #2 blue ink, bought in bulk from the Staples down the street.
And so it went, day in and day out, monotonous to anyone other than her. People stopped trying to talk to her, stopped trying to read over her shoulder, stopped trying to peer into that beautiful mind hiding behind the beautiful freckled face that dug wholes on the pages with the intensity of that wonderful grey eyed stare. It was as if she slowly stopped mattering, like the war hero who returns, bloody and victorious, the only one left of his platoon. And at first he is given news coverage and invited on talk shows and given awards and cards from schools and hugs from terminal (though not contagious) children. But eventually the war takes its toll and he becomes crazy with post traumatic stress, perhaps when fireworks are set off in his honor, or he is taken on a hunting trip. And then he is left alone, because no one wants a broken hero.
But she was not a war hero, she was just a normal girl who wrote and never talked and so it went, day in and day out.
And then, one day, it stopped. One day she didn’t appear at school. No one saw her in the last row, first chair to the left. No one found her in the library painting invisible pictures of the floor with her slight footsteps. No one knew what had happened.
And they never did.

The story said that her parents went to wake her one morning, only to find her bed empty. They scoured the house, but couldn’t find her anywhere. They called the school, which sent out a grade wide message, which became a search that the entire town participated in, to find this girl that none of them knew. And they never did.
However, they did find something. Or at least, her parents found something, something they’d always known about but never believed in, through fear of having to confront her about something they considered a problem. They found her notebooks. And they regretted never accepting her talents (which they believed were the reason she had ‘no friend’, so to speak), before it was to late. And they knew they had to make it up to her, even though it was too late.
And so, for days and days, the newspapers and libraries and bookstores and schools were filled with her simple, marvelous stories, and her simple, wonderful drawings. People from across the state wrote to her parents to commend them for raising such a talented, artistic girl, and to apologize for their loss. But the parents knew something these good Samaritans didn’t.
In the last page, of the final, centennial notebook, there was a sentence. It was one sentence, halfway down the page. Above and bellow it were small doodles of stars and flowers and runners and buildings, nothing that related to the five words on the page. Words that the parents pretended to understand, but never could.

The words were “And now I know myself”, written in orange ink, taking up two lines, in a curvy script that was nothing like the writing on any of the other pages. It swerved and slid across the paper like mercury in a child’s hand. She had found her place, finally, after all those characters, she had found her own. The picture sat on the back of the last page, a girl, coyly staring into space.
And when you saw those eyes, those awful, terrible, frightening, beautiful grey eyes, you could just tell. You could tell that she wanted to talk

The Story Girl

Mr. McGurk

Joined December 2008

  • Artist

Artist's Description

It’s about a normal girl, it’s about a sad girl, it’s about a boring girl. It’s about how she became brand new, it’s about how she became happy, it’s about how everything became exciting.

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