Adventure With Crayons



When Ariel arrived at Chestnut Forest, she searched out three trees and on the third was a sign for Insley Manor. Simple. But there was no man in a wine-colored sweater. No guy wearing a yellow backpack. No feather. She saw the videographer down a ways on the path from Insley Manor, walking quickly towards her.
She yelled, hey, I don’t even know your name. He shouted, you can call me Gary. She didn’t like the name Gary and felt a sudden sadness being surrounded by all the trees in the dusk. What? he said, as he approached her, looking for a feather, little girl? She almost turned, ran back to Sasha’s. He said, follow me.
He took off down a road behind the forest that led to a condemned movie theatre. Like every kid in the area, she knew about this dilapidated place but had never been inside. Usually boys messed around in the theatre and bad girls visited them. Gary kicked the lock on the broken door, and they walked up the stairs. She could hear him panting from the exertion of carrying his camera and trying to keep up with her.

After three flights, they came to the balcony.He muttered something like, I wanna get some tight shots. His flushed cheeks made him look younger, and a jolt charged through her. In a matter-of-fact tone he told her, strip down to your underwear, and then, without looking at her, he set up his camera.
She had never taken her clothes off for anything other than a shower or a doctor’s exam, so she she felt wrong in her underwear as she walked over to him. He barely glanced at her and motioned her to the auditorium seats. The theatre was clammy, she could almost see her breath and she said, I’m freezing. He lit a cigarette and said, do something hot.
She flushed, temporarily paralyzed. He said, straddle the arm rest—like you’re riding a horse. It was awkward to balance that way, but he looked pleased after he put his camera down. He pointed to the floor and said, down. She remembered the crayons in her backpack and said, I have an idea. That’s good, he said, creativity is arousing.

She took the magenta one and pulled down her underpants and stuck it inside her butt like a thermometer. Perfect, he said. But it didn’t feel perfect. Her face was on the cold sticky floor and as she wriggled, she heard him say, this will be a great video, Adventures with Crayons.
His laugh was sickening. He stood above her and said, that’s good enough. She got up and he covered her up with his overcoat. Let me scan the place for other shooting possibilities, he said. Oh yeah, he said, pointing to a tiny alcove on the floor below. She grabbed her clothes and backpack and followed him down the stairs.

He coughed as he lifted her up into the alcove. His hands were large as he pushed on her bottom to ensure her getting properly in place. Still as a classic, naked statue, she waited while he set up again. She touched her own breasts and he said it was good. They she touched her private parts and he said it was really good, then added, look real happy.

He lit another cigarette and she asked for one too. He said she was too young for such a nasty habit. They both laughed. He told her, sit down and dangle your legs as if you’re dipping your toes in a river; only could you please spread your legs pretty wide and lean back and remember to look real relaxed. Coming right up, she would have said if she hadn’t been shivering so much. She thought she heard him whisper, I’d like to dip into you. She prayed for repulsion, yet her insides pinged as if she wanted something warm from him, as if she needed him, while all she wanted was for him to need her. He took a long drag and looked back into his camera.
I’ve had enough she said and climbed down from her pedestal. She put her clothes on—as if the building were on fire—and ran down the stairs without saying goodbye.



After the meeting at McDonald’s, Ariel arrived at her Aunt Sasha’s and waited for her cousin Spider to get home. Sasha was taller than her mom and more laid-back. Of course, she found that most people were more laid-back than her mom. Sasha used to be an astrophysicist but now she was semi-retired and had become a life coach. She was always open to the next ecstatic moment and she said interesting things to Ariel and Spider like, don’t extinguish all the fires within you. Today, Sasha was clearing out a cabinet filled with art supplies. Do you want some crayons, she asked, they’re good ones with cynical names like tainted tan. Sure, said Sasha. She felt a text come in. Dropping her backpack, she said, I’ll be right back, Sash. She went to the bathroom, sat cross-legged on the furry white bath mat and read:

Go to the third tree, unbutton your blouse, find a feather in the knot of the tree, wait for the man who is wearing a wine-colored sweater and a yellow backpack. When he arrives, hand him the feather and let him stroke you with it under your blouse, and when you are ready, lift up your skirt, and let him stroke you everywhere there. Stay a few hours or leave whenever you want. Arousal is creativity of the glands. Create yourself. Let him create you again.

She hugged her knees tighter. She was certain this couldn’t be from a boy her own age. Her head whirled and she texted, the third tree, where? He wrote, at Chestnut Forest, on the path to Insley Manor, before dark, today, hurry. She went back to Sasha, who handed her a box of crayons. I have to go to the library, Ariel said, zipping the crayons into her backpack, to do some homework with a friend. Okay, said Sasha, you seem kinda distracted. Everything okay? Yep, she said, hugging Sasha. Tell Spider, I’ll catch her later. Sasha said, be back, no later than 8:30 tonight. But the library closes at 9. Okay, said Sasha, a bit after 9 then.

As luck would have it, Chestnut Forest was only 5 minutes from Aunt Sasha’s. Under street lamps, cell phone in her hand, she read the text over and over, running the whole way there.



Bleary-eyed from the baby deer she and her mother had saved the night before, Ariel squinted at the man coming through the dark forest of cars. He was tall, craggy, and had a full head of hair. She almost decided to walk away, but he seemed to recognize her and shook her hand, the strength of his grip attractive even though he was old and as sinewy as a druggie. He asked quietly, are you under 18. She was actually just shy of 15, so she nodded. Good, he said. And handed her a bag. What? Check it out later, he said —with your friends. She didn’t bother telling him she didn’t really have friends. Or that her only friend was Spider, who was her cousin, so that didn’t count. He looked around furtively and whispered in her ear, put it in your backpack. His breath smelled of cigarette and mint. She followed him into McDonald’s. The air was too bright as she slid into the booth. If she saw anyone she knew, she could tell them he was her uncle. He didn’t look in her eyes even though they sat across from each other. He rested his gaze above her head and said, let’s go order and then we can get to work. She bounded up, and he followed her. Were his eyes on her black leggings? She sensed his gaze stripping her down. He paid and they sat down again. This time he looked at Ariel and smiled. From her raggedly-cut peach-colored t-shirt, the top of her breasts peeked out. Her long necklace of bullet casings stuffed with sea glass bobbed up and down inside her cleavage as she hyperventilated. He didn’t seem to notice, just lowered his eyes to her necklace and continued smiling.

Finally he said, I can’t wait to get on you. She blushed, took a bite from her burger, and said, I’ll have to think about it. He reached his long arm under the table and squeezed her knee. I totally understand, he said, there’s a lot of weirdos out there. He watched her, and she bit her lip in the silence. Then he leaned in and said, you know, I’ve changed my mind. I don’t feel like working with you today after all. What’s wrong, she asked. I’m just not feeling it, he said. She suddenly felt afraid, alone, thought of the trapped fawn in the window well. She put her hand on his wrist, and he pulled his hand away. Well, she thought, she had only wasted a half hour and there was still time to get back to talk to Spider. Maybe she would even tell Spider about what was happening to her. That’s cool, she managed to say and her fingers clutched the bullet on her chest. He stood up—a better vantage point to see more of her breasts. Her stomach felt sick and hungry at the same time. She slid her hand under her shirt to rub it. He smiled again, this time showing his chipped, yellowed front teeth. It’s okay, he said, it’s not you. She felt no relief. We can meet in a couple of days, he said. This made her think of the word, “couple” and she wondered if he had a wife or a girlfriend. Maybe a kid. His thighs rustled in their corduroys as he waited for her answer. Sure, she said and didn’t look up. There was a heavy pause as he stood over her. We’ll do a real photo shoot then, he said. She thought of models in front of wind machines, and she tossed her hair. He took a curl from in front of her eye and tucked it behind her ear. She almost winced even though his touch was gentle. Thanks for the burger, she blurted out, before he said ciao and walked out. He disappeared into the parking lot, his head high like the deer’s vanishing into the trees. She felt a confident surge diminish the knot in her stomach. He’d be back.


You think you shine rubescent, but you’re hidden to yourself. We were almost cut off from you. Now we hear murmurs of your life. We want to feel through you, your heart’s troubled, anemic pulsing. Danger hovers near you. We are reaching out to you. Can you feel us?