Kids and Teachers

Today is a new day and the weather, once again, refuses to accept that the passage of time affects it. Through the scratched and fogged glass window you see gray and white. Gravel roads, old wooden houses, rare patterned cars and snow-covered trees, just like everything else. Snow, snow, and more snow, covering every trace of color that could be found, on earth and in the sky, with the clouds eternally overshadowing the Sun's smile and holding itself rigidly in an banal, colorless expression of indifference.

But inside, the sun was rising, its brightness more intense.

“Aunt Adelaide, look what I did!”

You see green mountains, tropical trees, smiling farm animals, lakes with a vivid blue and sunflowers that reach up to the sky, with a cheerful and radiant sun. Near the pond you see a large, colorful house, with four windows and eight stickpeople in front of it, with two in dresses, bigger than all of them, and one wearing a tiara bigger than their head.

“How beautiful, Alice! Who are these people in this house?”

“It's me, and the other girls, and you here, Aunt, living with us and the other Aunt, in a really big house, which is also a castle! And -I- am the princess!”

You smile. Drawing was the favorite activity of the children, who fortunately did not get tired of these and other few tasks they practiced since they were left in the care of the shelter. You can barely remember when the wiring was stable enough to turn on the ancient TV and show them an animated movie, where they saw lions, bears, forests. Life, color, some escape from reality.

You know that one day this innocence will end, but you do your best to appreciate it every day near the Sun.

“Do you want to paste your drawing on the wall, Alice? That way the kids will see it every day.”

“Yes! Right on top, so Heidi doesn't tear it again! I made amends with her as you asked, but that was very— very tured and I'm very, very upset!”

“’Imature’ is the word, Alice.”

“Yes, very immature. It took me the whole, whole day to finish!”

“And I know that, and it was beautiful. Now you made this one, which we're going to hang up, and can I tell you a little secret?”

You see her posture grow more animated, nodding her head in anticipation. You crouch down, and whisper:

“This is the most beautiful drawing I've ever seen.”

You finish putting on your pajamas and fastening your hair, and turn to your friends, the ones you've known since you've known yourself, and exclaim excitedly:

“Today Aunt Adelaide said that -my-m drawing was the most beautiful she has ever seen in the whole world”.

“But Auntie said that about mine too. And Heidi's too. She tells everyone that”.

“But she put it riiight on top, almost on the ceiling for everyone to see”.

“That's where there's still room.”

“I doubt!”

“Don't doubt!”

“I doubt it!”

You were about to grab a pillow and throw it at this “friend” who loved to be contrarian whenever she had the opportunity, when Aunt Ada walks into the room, holding a book you haven't seen in a long time.

“What's going on, girls?”

You try to hide the pillow behind your back.

“Alice was going to hit me with the pillow!”

“Gee Alice, is this how you resolve your conflicts? And Aunt Adelaide told me to anrrate the story you like the most.”

You say you're sorry. You didn't want the others to blame you for stopping the funniest moment of te night, and you specially didn't want to miss out on the best of the best stories.

“Very well, now Alyson, say she's forgiven.”

You and your friends lie down, two on each bunk bed, while Aunt Ada blows out the candle in the window and plugs the lamp. The lamp blinks, once, twice, until it glows an intense golden glow, like a miniature sun.

That was the best part of the night.

“Once upon a time there were two girls and two boys: Susana, Lúcia, Pedro and Edmundo. This story tells us something that happened during the war, when they had to leave London…”

You felt lonely.

The snowstorms were getting worse, the roads getting too dangerous to drive. The radio announced the risk of avalanche in the village. Community groups offered to take care of the children in a safer place, as they said. “Happier”. Their Aunts would go with them, after all they were a family, they only had one another.

You know these things were good, better than losing your family to the crumbling mountains, but the abandonment was still painful. More painful than the storm that threatened to drown you in snow, with no one to dig you up and break through your massive oak doors, once so imposing, now faded and tired. You knew they missed it too. With no one to clean your chimney and warm your body. With no one to protect you on the coldest days, the darkest nights.

You looked at your walls, your beds, and you remembered. You felt the energy that was created there and you would strive not to let those memories be erased, assimilated into the white and gray of this world.

You take a half-finished chalk and start drawing butterflies on the wall, and they fly away.

You wish them good luck in existing and say goodbye.

You look at the white sheet of paper, in the gray chamber, with its red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet pencils.

“Could you draw yourself?”

You do so, but they can't see it.

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