The Really Important Project

“So did you start working on this project?” Hope sparkles when she walks into my apartment after giving me a quick kiss on the cheek. “I brought my half. I thought we could compare the two and then make them work together.”

I dig through my homework folder, but I know she won’t be satisfied. I’d been waiting for inspiration. It never came.  I lay my poster on the kitchen counter, the largest flat surface I have.

Fortunately, Hope wanted to be in control of this project.

“Oh, that’s so cute,” she says about my rough sketch of what I had envisioned for our representation of the human Chakras. I thought we could take my old Dizzy Lizzy rag doll and Bedazzle colored stones down her spine. I thought her purple hair would be perfect.

And this is when I remember why I don’t do well with group projects. I love Hope, but she’s so hyper-stressed about schoolwork. That’s why she’s got better grades. I’m more the follow-the-essence-of-the-assignment type of person. Usually, I don’t stress. The perfect answer just comes to me. Group projects introduce stress into my life. I don’t do well when I’m stressed. My creativity shuts down.

Hope returns to the hallway outside my front door and pulls in a big pink suitcase on wheels, laying it flat on the tile in my kitchen.

“Okay, so what I was thinking is we have to place this away from high-traffic areas.” She unfolds a giant, intricate model of a DNA molecule. It snaps into place at six feet tall. “All we have to do is paint the sections the right color, then, after the paint dries, we can wrap this around it.”

She reaches into a Mary Poppins bag I thought was her purse. She tugs at something that gets stuck then, as it becomes visible, I realize it’s an umbrella, of sorts.

“We need to paint this part silver, to represent the awakened soul.”

Attached to the umbrella’s shaft is a feather boa. The spine of each individual pure white feather has already been painted silver.

“These are dove feathers. Perfectly pure spiritual beings to symbolize our perfect transition one day.”

The beauty of the boa steals my breath as it grips at that place in my chest that makes me cry. Finally, I find my voice. “This is amazing, Hope.”

“I was inspired.” She hands me the red paint and a brush. “You start at the Root Chakra, I’ll start at the Crown. We’ll meet in the middle.”

We get to work, my Dizzy Lizzy idea now simply scrap paper on which I clean my brush between colors. Then a harsh tapping comes at my window. It’s not really tapping, it’s more like a pecking bird – click, click, clatter. I slide the glass door open and step onto the patio, dodging a handful of pebbles that scatter onto the tile.

A plop and a screech later, “What the heck!”

I close the door behind me, muffling the screaming. On the lawn two stories below, I find teacher, wearing purple Universal T-shirt, bright blue swim trunks and a Goofy baseball cap with floppy ears attached. The smile on his face matches the cap.

“So, you two up for a field trip?” he says, juggling three bigger rocks.

Standing next to him, Clyde and Irreverent are wearing red matching Thing 1 and Thing 2 T-shirts.

Hope squeezes through the door. For a moment, she stands there watching the personification of playing hooky.

“Hey, Hope,” Clyde waves his big foam Mickey Mouse hand. “Come on, Teacher’s taking us to Sea World next. I can’t wait to see what he does with Shamu!”

Glancing over my shoulder at our nearly finished project, I’m about to toss the paint brush in the sink.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Hope hisses before turning to the boys. “We are doing our homework, Sir. I’m sorry, but we’re going to have to bow out of this offer. Sounds great, but you said the project was important.” She pauses before suddenly realizing, “Hey, you guys haven’t even started yet! How can you take a break?”

Irreverent gets a nod from Teacher. “It’s only half important,” he says. “Teacher says that sometimes you have to see the world through the eyes of the troublemakers!”

“Of course, you would pick up on that, wouldn’t you, Irreverent?” Hope sneers.

Teacher steps toward the front. “I’m so sorry you don’t see it our way, Hope. We’ll miss you.” He holds his hand out toward me, as if expecting me to grab his hand. “How about you, dear Writer? Would you like to break in my new car with us? It’s a sweet ride.”

He points toward something that looks like a rainbow threw up on a convertible Mystery Machine and I can’t help but giggle.

“Come on. It’ll be okay,” he says. “Your life can’t be all about one thing. Life is about so much more. Sometime it’s time to have fun.” He claps three times and a crystal staircase builds step by step until it’s level with my porch. “Actually, you should always be ready to have fun. This is your only life as the person you are today.”

“Hope?” In my gut, I know what she’s going to say. I try to change her mind. “It looks like fun. I hear you can actually fish for real pearls there. Come on. We can try our luck at some really cool jewelry.”

“Ladies,” Hope and I look toward Teacher. In the short time since they got here, the sun has set. Teacher has both arms over his head, a lighter glowing brightly in each hand. The boys each have lighters also. “You two are amazing. You are rock stars in my class. Come on, you are enlightened already!” three spotlights flash blue, red, and yellow beams on us.

A rock band starts playing from somewhere behind us. My apartment has become a stage. The lawn below is packed with rocking fans in a ridiculous example of a real concert.

I step forward and am followed by a brilliant, solitary spotlight. When I open my mouth, the audience roars.

What the hell?

“You two fuckin’ rock!” Teacher flashes rock hands and swings his tongue wildly in his open mouth. Ewww.

I turn back to Hope. “How can you say no to our audience?”

I think I’ve convinced her. “But the paint will dry uneven,” she says.

Shrugging, I say, “Yeah, but we’ll have lived, Hope. Isn’t living better than finishing a perfect project? Especially when the Teacher tells you to ignore the homework?”

____

I left with Teacher, dear friends. What would you have done?

Until next class, I remain,

The Dragonfly’s Student

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