40 lefaives 1979

The Coloring Contest (A Rewrite of Outlines and Dark Strokes)

I am shorter than I will become, with greasy hair.

I open the coloring book and hold up the page where my crayon marks have stayed inside every line, except the ones I colored over on purpose — outlines — to cover the template, to make it my own, to (yes, they know) hide my mistakes.

Still I am ready, confident. “Vote,” I say to the six adults in the room. They look at the page I am holding, at the colors I have placed.

Pink along Bugs’ tongue. Orange along the carrot. Blue along his jacket sleeves, his pants legs, his shoes (not his shoes — too late — they should be black).

Dark strokes. I pressed hard. The black over the blue, the blue over the black, the orange over the black, the pink over the black.

I liked it — waxing over every centimeter, coating the pulp, giving it a new texture, looking at the results.

Opposite is the one my brother did. He laid down polite, neighboring hues. He stacked faint strokes inside each shape like sugar, level, in a tablespoon: all the granules possessing equal intensity — none intense in itself. He left the prefixed drawing unmarred.

“Vote,” I say again. “Which one?” I ask. Grandma, Grandpa, Mom, Dad, Uncle Burk, Aunt Ruth all follow my order. They answer unanimously.

I lose.

And I realize, then, for the first time, that it all looks different to me.

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