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I never thought drawing would bring such adventures as I’ve had. I’m Drake Dodger and I like to draw. It’s kinda my thing. Since I can remember, I’ve been drawing. My mom and dad have kept almost every drawing I’ve done.
Many are crayon scribbles from when I was little including funny looking drawings of me and my family. When I was six years old, I drew my dad and me at a San Francisco Sharks baseball game. In the drawing, my dad has circles for hands and smaller circles for fingers. My dad’s hair looks as though he had stuck his finger in a wall outlet. Though I was only a few feet tall back then, I drew myself as tall as my dad.
The drawings got better, of course, as I got older. I give a lot of my drawings away to other kids, grown-ups, aunts, and grandmas—the people always asking me to draw them stuff. I don’t always mind because I love drawing. Sometimes, I want to do other things, but my mom will then ask me something like, “Drake, have you finished that drawing you said you’d make for Grandma’s birthday?”
I’m in the sixth grade at Metro Middle School. I like drawing more for kids at school. Girls will ask me to draw them pictures of cute stuff like rabbits, turtles, or flowers. Boys will ask me to draw them cars or superheroes. Between you and me, I like drawing for girls the best.
That’s where my story begins. One day, I drew Rachel Richardson a sunflower because a few days prior she asked me to. I kept it in my binder all day until I saw her between fifth and sixth period.
“Rachel!” I shouted down the hall. Several kids turned their heads in my direction. I didn’t mean to draw so much attention to myself. I waited for heads to turn back to what they were doing before jogging over to Rachel. She was putting her science book in her locker as I approached her.
Rachel and I had known each other since preschool. Back then, our moms were friends and we would sometimes have “play dates” as our moms called it. I’m pretty sure Rachel has completely forgotten we used to play together.
Rachel has long, sandy blonde hair and is always wearing cozy sweaters, usually pink, purple or white in color. Even though I’ve known her for years, I always get nervous talking to her. Especially when her friends are beside her. I’m pretty sure they all think I’m a dork. But right now she didn’t have any of her friends with her.
As I ran over to her, I almost collided with the lockers.
“Hi, Drake. Do you have my sunflower?” asked Rachel.
“I sure do,” I said as I swung my backpack off my shoulder onto the floor in front of me. I pulled out my binder and handed the drawing to her. I had drawn the sunflower in colored pencils. The sunflower top filled the center of the paper, slightly tilting off its stem. The stem had one small leaf coming off it. I had used my famous coloring technique. I first applied the base color of yellow on the flower’s petals. Then I applied a second layer of orange in the areas where the petal is darker or shaded. The trick is to press really hard to blend the colors enough for a vibrant look. I then blended in hints of green on the petals. After a while, the muscles in my forearms would ache from pressing on the colored pencils so hard. But it’s always worth the result.
“Oh! I love it! Thank you, Drake!”
Rachel reached over and wrapped her arms around me. You know, one of those hugs that you don’t expect and you don’t have time to hug back? You just stand there like a tree.
She continued to close her locker and zip her bag. I was still standing there like a tree. Be cool, I thought and replied, “You’re welcome, anytime.” Anytime? It’s not like I was doing her a favor or something.
“Thanks again, Drake. I’ll see you later!” And she was off to join a group of friends across the hall. I stood there watching her show her friends the drawing. They all oohed and awed over it for a few seconds until one of the girls showed the group something on her phone.
I cracked a smile as I placed my binder back into my bag. Pleased with myself, I walked to geography class.
Being good at drawing does have its drawbacks. Group projects that involve any creativity are always the most work for me. In geography class, Mr. Marsing announced, “Listen up, class! You’ll be breaking into seven groups for this next project. Each group will be assigned a country in Central America and do the following:
“1. Create a map of the country, major cities, and important landmarks.
“2. Create a brochure about the country including information on the country’s leadership, culture, and history.
“3. Present your country to the class in three weeks.”
I dropped my face into my arm resting on my desk and sighed. I knew exactly what would happen. Mr. Marsing put me with three other kids: Conner Chase, Millie Mason and Hunter Halifax. He assigned our group to the country of Belize. The four of us pushed our desks together. Conner spoke first. “I’m so glad we got you in our group, Drake!”
“Yeah,” Millie said, “you’re gonna rock that map and brochure, Drake.”
“Wait a minute, guys.” I wasn’t going to let this happen again. “I can’t do both those things.”
“Come on, man,” Hunter said. “I thought you loved to draw.”
Hunter sat slouched in his chair. He looked as though he belonged in the eighth grade, not sixth. He also looked like he wanted to beat up anyone that got in his way. In fourth grade, Sam Samuels got snarky with Hunter and he sent Sam’s big round glasses across the room.
“I-I do,” I said. “I just don’t want to be the only one working on this project.”
“Of course, Drake,” Conner said. He looked down at the paper Mr. Marsing handed out with all the project requirements. “It says here the brochure must include stuff about the country’s culture. I can get that for us.”
Then Millie chimed in. “And I’ll do the country’s history summary. What will you do, Hunter?”
Hunter said nothing. I was certain he was doing none of it.
“How about you research Belize’s leadership?” suggested Millie.
Hunter spun a dull, chewed up pencil between his fingers. He must not have sharpened the pencil for weeks. I never dared chew my pencils or let them get too dull. A pencil to me was like Leonardo Da Vinci’s paintbrush or like Taylor Swift’s microphone. A pencil is my tool for making art.
“Sure,” Hunter muttered.
“Okay,” I said, “but what about—” The piercing beep of the school bell interrupted me. The others left the classroom before I could defend myself from all the work dumped into my lap.
In the lunchroom, I met up with my best friend, Ricardo Rodriguez. Ricardo lives in my same neighborhood. We both love basketball, but he’s the only one of us who’s actually any good. In fact, he’s very good. He started on the YMCA basketball team for our age group. He’s so tall, he towers over me and the rest of the kids in our class. Ricardo waved at me from across the lunchroom, yet standing there made him obvious enough to see.
“Drake! Over here!” Ricardo had already gotten in line for hot lunch and taken his tray of food to a table in the middle of the room. I got over to the table and sat down.
“What’s for lunch today?” I asked.
“Looks like orange chicken. What do you got?”
I pulled my lunch bag from my backpack. I always brought my own lunch. I prefer knowing what my lunch is made of. You can never be sure about school lunches.
I placed my food on the table as I announced my menu to Ricardo. “Peanut butter and jelly, chips, apple slices, and a Capri Sun drink.”
“Don’t you get tired of PB&J?” Ricardo asked as he pushed his chicken through a pile of rice.
“If I could bring a cheeseburger from King’s Kastle to school, I would. But I like routine and PB&J tastes good, especially when I put chips inside.” I peeled the top piece of bread off my sandwich and placed a few chips on the peanut butter.
“Basketball after school?” Ricardo asked.
“Sure. My house?”
Rachel walked up to our table. “Hi, boys. How are you?”
“Great!” replied Ricardo.
“Thanks again for the drawing, Drake. All my friends loved it.”
My face started to get hot with embarrassment.
Rachel continued. “I’m having a birthday party this Saturday. Can you guys come?” She handed Ricardo and I each a printed invitation.
“Um, maybe,” I said.
Ricardo decided for both of us. “For sure, Rachel. We’ll be there!”
“Great, see you then. Bye!” Rachel trotted back over to her friends.
I looked at the invite and was reminded of the embarrassing experience I had at the last birthday party. I had stood in the corner for the first hour. Then, the group insisted I take a whack at the piñata. I tried to have as much fun as everyone else, but ended up hitting Jake Jenkins with the stick, giving him a bloody nose. I got dirty looks from everyone, including the parents, for the rest of the day.
“It will be fun,” said Ricardo.
“Sure,” I said and took a bite of my PB&J chip sandwich.
My last class that day was English. I had finished my work early. Mrs. Mitchell said we could have free time if we got done early. So I pulled out my drawing pad and flipped it open. I took my drawing pad with me every day to school. I’ve lost count of how many drawing pads I’ve gone through. I was halfway through this one. It was spiral bound and had a green cover. The corners were starting to wear from being in my backpack so much.
I rested my head on one hand and started doodling with the other. Doodling led to drawing the head of a dragon. Nothing special—just your everyday dragon. After the head, I drew a body, wings, and a tail. It wasn’t my best work. One wing was bigger than the other. His hands and feet all had four fingers and talons except his left hand had only three.
Soon the school bell rang. I closed my drawing pad, shoved it into my backpack and was off to meet up with Ricardo for the bus ride home.
The brakes on the bus screeched as it pulled up to my neighborhood bus stop. Ricardo and I hopped off and started toward our houses.
“I’m gonna run. I’ll see you in a few minutes at your place.” And he was off running toward his house. He always loved to run places.
I continued to walk toward my house. I looked up at the clouds as I walked. The clouds were particularly fluffy and tall. They moved slowly across the sky. I tried to imagine what they looked like. A clump of clouds looked like the profile of an old bearded man’s face. The farther I walked, the clump of clouds dissipated and the man’s face stretched and distorted until the image was gone.
I looked at another clump of clouds and saw what looked like the hump of a dragon’s back and fluffy wings spreading out from it. Another small cloud made up the snout of the dragon’s head. As the image of the dragon transformed into something else I had made my way up my driveway, unlocked my front door, and walked in.
“Mom, I’m home!” I said, but there was no response. Then I remembered, she was taking my younger brothers to their check-up at the doctor that afternoon. My older sisters were nowhere in sight. Probably at their friend’s house. My dad was at work for another two hours.
Ricardo would be here soon, so I thought I would grab the basketball from the garage. I opened the door into the garage and flipped on the light. Then I saw it—a dragon!