And, to his teacher Mrs. Gadby's dismay, Allister quite often had to be dragged from cutting and carving through the punctuation and sentence structures of his thoughts. Mrs. Gadby attached a note to Allister's first report card. It was a subpar report card and the note was subpar to match. It said:
"I do feel as though Allister has much to say. But, he says none of it."
But, to Mrs. Gadby's credit, she was the first to take an interest in Allister's art. After weeks and weeks had passed with little enthusiasm and much apprehension from Allister, Mrs. Gadby assigned the class a simple excerise on a day with no pressing assignments. She distributed crayons and paints and asked the children to draw or paint whatever they thought of. Allister could think of only one thing. So, he went to work straight away. He wore brand new crayons down to nubs and dipped his fingers into the paint with a ferocity the class had never seen before-especially from Allister. In fact, the entire class had long stopped their creating and watched intently as Allister put the finishing touches on his piece. He backed away from his desk to give a full view to the class. And there was an instant chorus of enthusiasm.
It was a fairy. A beautiful, sweet-faced fairy with the delicate wings of a monarch butterfly. Her legs pointed and stretched in a ballerina's soft step. Her one hand held a pose of presentation while her other hand presented a silver server's tray. And on the tray was a heart. A human-sized heart.
Mrs. Gadby's eyes welled with tears. It was that beautiful. Several students followed suit (although two of those students were known to cry at even the mention of tears and those sort of slight inaccuracies are necessary in listing, of course (of course)).
Mrs. Gadby immediately notified Allister's parents of his artistic genius and, together, they vowed to ship Allister to the best art school they could find. Yes, it was that beautiful.
Some would say that Allister's eyes lit up with excitement when he felt that people finally understood, that they wanted to help him. And those same some would say that the light instantly vanished when Allister was accepted and shipped off to Paris and the Sorbonne Junior Academie D'Arts (in Anglified French of course).
At the Academie, the teachers welcomed him with open and exuberant arms. All had seen and were aware of the little genius and the picture he had made and they praised him from the moment he walked through the Sorbonne's junior doors. "Genius." "Exceptional." "It is only every other lifetime or so that a piece breaks through the mundanity of its medium and speaks to the reality of our present souls." I have seen much art and have never felt the way I felt when I viewed your piece. It transcends the mundanity of reality and puts the viewer in a place of consistent and dream-filled absurdity." "Your view of the sacrificial death of youth is nothing short of a revelation."
Allister had a hard time understanding many of the praises and the words flung at him. And he became more and more withdrawn as his junior time at the Sorbonne Junior Academie progressed.
Though he learned many new techniques, his piece remained the same with each and every new assignment. Sometimes Allister drew the fairy. Sometimes he painted the fairy. Sometimes he sculpted the fairy. And even in the general studies classes the fairy would manifest itself as an essay or as the answer to a math problem (1 + 1 = A Beautiful Sweet-Faced Monarch-Butterfly-Winged Fairy Presenting A Tray With A Human Heart On It, for example.). But, always, the image was as vivid as it was moving. And Allister could not get it out of his mind and his teachers grew tired of what they felt was either a refusal or an inability to move on. And, of course (and of course) Allister had learned much to perfect his fairy. The fairy's eyes became crafted with such perfection that even the smallest twink of menace was so obviously apparent. And, each time he drew or painted a heart, it was so subtely unique that you would swear it belonged to someone different each and every time.
But, still, Allister's teachers felt his junior future was dim. They felt he would not move any farther or, rather, that he would only move farther in small and barely noticeable increments. And, so (and of course), Allister was expelled from The Sorbonne's Junior Academy. The school had given up on him. To them, he seemed a hopeless case.
But, Allister was far from giving up hope. Because he had seen it each and every night. Yes, each and every night and, for that flash of a moment back in the one-room schoolhouse, he had thought Mrs. Gadby had seen it, too-that she knew. Maybe she had the same terrifying problem, he thought. Maybe she could help.
From the very earliest of Allister's memories, that fairy had visited him every night. The beautiful, sweet-faced, Monarch-butterfly winged fairy snuck into his room with the most silent of wings. She tip-toed up to his chest and tapped on his nose and presented yet another young boy's heart. And she taunted him. She knew Allister would not eat it. But, she would. Oh, she would eat it right in front of him, of course, and giggle the entire time. She boasted and bragged that she could go anywhere and tell anyone she pleased that, one by one, she would eat the hearts of humankind. And Allister could tell no one. Because "of course," she twinked, no one would believe him and, regardless, if anyone so much as uttered or wrote a word about her, she would find that person and eat their heart, too. That was a promise. A threat and a promise.
And Allister, of course (and of course) had known he could do nothing on his own. And he uttered not a word for fear of his life. But, from the moment Mrs. Gadby gave the assigment to draw what he was thinking, Allister knew he would find someone. He knew the trick, now. He did not need words. And he knew there had to be more. Maybe not Mrs. Gadby. Maybe not anyone in his class at the one-room schoolhouse or in the Sorbonne Junior Academie D'Arts. But, somewhere, there had to be more. And Allister painted and drew and crafted that fairy in whatever medium he could find on each and every day he lived until he found someone.
Oh, and he did (and, of course, he did).
A young and withdrawn and distracted boy Allister met on the playground named Solomon Gates (you will, I am sure (of course), remember Allister's trusted lifelong friend, Solomon Gates) recognized the terror-spun threat of the fairy. Solomon nodded knowingly to Allister with a tear sliding down his cheek (Solomon was not one of those who cried easily) and, in response to Allister's drawing, he drew the same fairy. And Allister and Solomon would find others-like Roosevelt O'Donavan, Frannie Wilkins, Mary Lloyd, and Zora Neale Hurston (yes, the Zora Neale Hurston). And, together, they made a pact to hunt that fairy down (and any others like it, of course) and put an end to her reign of sleepless nights.
To my knowledge, they succeeded. I know this because I have not seen another depiction of that horrid little monarch-butterfly-winged beast in quite some time. Also, though I have written about the fairy, she or any fairy like her has yet to eat my heart.
But, should I be wrong, now you know what to do. And I can guarantee that there will be at least one person who will believe you. You know where to find me (321 Bicuspid Lane, of course).