Gifted. Zara sees more than she can speak. Feels what others can’t. She is slow when speed is needed. Or quick when it’s not. No sync. She gazed at the vast sky. “Maybe it’s a place for me? Where my slow and quick make sense.” She climbed up a tree. Higher. The clouds pulled her inside. They praised her gifts.
“What are they? I don’t know.”
The clouds replied, “You will.”
Teacher said, “All kids will paint a picture.” Noble masterpiece.
Zara imagined a gorgeous pony with her as its rider. Other kids drew stick figures living in square boxes. Yawn. Her painting would hang at the highest spot on the wall. The other artwork would make the teachers and parents smile. “How nice.” But their eyebrows would arch at Zara’s painting. “A beautiful pony with a lovely girl rider. So amazing.” Mother would hug her extra tight. Then hang it in the family dining room beside Father’s war medals.
Zara painted the pony blue. She wanted his eyes yellow. But dipped the brush in black paint instead. Dark spots stared at her. Fail! Make it right. Clean the brush. She painted another blue pony. Clean the brush. She painted her figure in orange sitting on it. The brush slipped. It mingled with wet green paint. Colors turned into mud. Fail again! Fix it.
Zara mixed more green to the dark spot. She added more orange to her figure, then more green. The lines grew fatter. Paper sagged. Make it right. Other children cleaned up. Zara asked for more paper. Teacher said, “Sorry, I haven’t got time.” Defeat whispered to her, “You failed.” Everyone looked at her. Fear tightened her throat. No words. Paint dripped from the sagging paper. Mud puddle on the floor. But Zara refused. She grabbed the wet brushes and painted on the wall. A large blue pony with yellow eyes appeared. Teacher yelled, “Stop.” Zara refused again. Other kids laughed. She smeared orange paint over her clothes. She whistled. The pony turned its head, looked at her. Jumped off the wall. Teacher and other kids gasped. Zara climbed onto its back. They trotted out of the school.
Zara clung to its blue mane. The pony trotted quicker. Then slower. But it was her quick and slow. Now it made sense. Sync. The pony jumped into the air. A huge wind lifted them. Higher. Into the vast sky. The clouds pulled them up inside. They cheered. Proud of her. THUNDER! Her confidence exploded.
“I painted a noble masterpiece.”
The clouds replied, “First of many.”
The blue pony stayed in the clouds. It would come to her. If she needed it again.
Mother washed the orange paint off her clothes. Zara put a piece of paper on the wall next to Father’s war medals. Her parents said, “It’s blank.” But Zara shook her head no. “It’s a painting of me riding a blue pony.”