Slice of Life: Boy Artist, at work

(This is part of Slice of Life, a weekly writing activity hosted by Two Writing Teachers in which which bloggers write about the small moments. Come join us! Write your slice!)


The boy, maybe more than 8 years old, sat with his back to all of us. On the floor, near his knee, the tin of colored pencils sat open. On the chair, situated like a table, a small notebook was open and propped up against the back of the chair, a handheld Nintendo DS was open to a game screen. His fingers held the colored pencil, and he examined closely the screen, and then he began to once again color.

He was oblivious to the rest of us in the waiting room of the pediatrician’s office, where I was sitting with my son, waiting for our turn to get called to the exam room. The only sound other than the chattering of the office staff was the gurgling of the fish tank. All of us were watching the back of this artist, mostly absentmindedly. Just something to stare at during the waiting.

I watched him, too, though I suspect I was more interested than others, for whatever reason. As I had walked past the boy artist, I had noticed the game on his DS open and his illustration underway was stunningly beautiful, a painstakingly detailed imitation of the screen. I was intrigued. I watched as he slowly, carefully, methodically put away one colored pencil and then carefully, slowly, methodically chose the next color. There was nothing random to what he was doing. It was all very deliberate.

Then, a bit of panic. His fingers searched for a color. Moving pencils back into place. Fingers. Fingers. He glanced around, and I could see something in his eyes. He quickly looked at the ground. He looked on a nearby bench. He put all the pencils away and stood up. He checked himself, hands on pants and in pockets. Glanced around again, for the first time seeming to acknowledge other people in the room, if only to silently accuse us of theft of a pencil. I almost wanted to say, I didn’t take it! I didn’t steal any of your pencils! Do you want me to help you look?

But his mother and older brother came out of the examination room, and he quickly packed up his art gear, gave one last look around, slammed shut his DS, and in seconds, he and his family were gone. Me? I kept looking around for that boy’s lost pencil, for what if that were the exact color he needed to finish his drawing and it was nowhere to be found?

What then? And I could not help wondering later, what color?

Peace (in the artist),

  1. 🙂 I love that you carried me right into the room with you!
    Your ending:

    ” Me? I kept looking around for that boy’s lost pencil, for what if that were the exact color he needed to finish his drawing and it was nowhere to be found?

    What then? And I could not help wondering later, what color?”
    Perfect ending to this slice. . . Something about a slice that shows how that moment continues it’s effect is really appealing. . .

  2. Such a vivid observation, Kevin! I could hear the fish tank gurgling in the background too. I am most impressed that the little boy gave up time with his DS to draw. Gives me hope! Happy new year to you!


  3. What a great story! I love that this young artist was interacting with his device in a completely unexpected way. (I would have been worried about that lost pencil, too!) Happy New Year!

  4. What a perfect example of stretching a small moment! The boy did not know that a writer was watching and collecting this moment to be saved forever.

  5. Beautiful slice! You captured it! An absolutely perfect moment of observation on your part, so much like the boy intensely observing and sketching. He took you into his world and you became a part of it. As you did for your readers, bringing us in and watching him; becoming a part of the story.

  6. This is a perfect mentor text for a small moment. Do you mind if I share it with my students? It doesn’t surprise me that you were more interested in the artiest than most!

  7. Kevin, as I read through the comments, I thought how could I make mine different since I agree with the others. You have a keen sense of writer’s craft and creating an engaging story that draws the reader into the setting. I noticed and wondered along with you. Thank you, Kevin for letting us into your meandering mind.

  8. So many of these stories beg to be translated into a one-minute play or a scene to be done for an evening of scenes. I teach intro to lit at university and I have students do some very “low bar to entries”. I am thinking of having students do a 55-word short story that they will turn into a poem and then into a scene/nanoplay. Would be a good #dailyconnect. The final product would be to add voices to the play.

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