Ziggy vs. Paints
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I figure since I'm kind of dominating the whole sight submission and content wise I might as well add a writing thing too. This is from a potential story idea that needs a lot of work. I mostly just like writing character shenanigans. Ziggy comes from a world with no color where everything is pretty much terrifying and awful. Cody comes from Michigan. They're alarmingly similar.
I had no idea what the hell I was going to do with this guy. I mean, it was phenomenal he managed to make it all the way out here - he still wouldn't tell me how, but fuck it, Ziggy was on Earth and we were finally together again, who was I to question it - but…I still had to go to school.
Mom and Dad had been pretty cool about Ziggy staying at our house. I told them that he was my pen pal from Denmark and they seemed to buy that (he did have kind of a weird accent that I'd never noticed until my parents pointed it out), but I'm not sure how cool they'd be leaving him alone in our house while they worked and I was at school. So I needed to think of something for him to do while I was gone, at least for tomorrow. I'd think of a more long-term plan too, but first I needed to get us through tomorrow.
We were walking around town, and I know it sounds silly, but he was just so enamored with everything around him. He kept his eyes hidden still, but you could see how much he was glowing. He kept pointing to things and asking questions, watching people like he'd never seen so many of them before…which I guess he hadn't. It was cute. Kind of like watching a little kid or something. I must have been grinning like an idiot; people kept staring.
I showed him burger joints, and a Macy's, and Baldwin Park. He fucking loved the park. I probably could have left him there all day and he could easily have entertained himself running around, climbing the trees, smelling the flowers. He watched the fish in the pond forever, splashing his hands in the water and laughing when they swam off. Watching him made me feel so grateful. Ziggy changed my life; I was glad I could finally change his, too.
It was on our way back to my house that we passed a bulletin board outside some convenience store, and Ziggy stopped to look at all the signs. He couldn't read them, so I read a few, and one caught his eye.
“That's for painting classes.” I told him. “I guess they're doing watercolors at the library tomorrow.”
“Painting?” He asked, sounding the word out carefully. “What's painting?”
The question didn't surprise me as much as I felt like it should have. I got so used to Ziggy not knowing anything about Earth life; it made me really realize how much shit we take for granted here. It really is easier to appreciate everything when you have nothing your whole life. “Painting, it's like…making pictures with paints. Paints are just colored things, and you put them on paper with a paintbrush and make pictures with it.” I looked at the poster again; it looked like the class started around the same time school did for me. Two classes ran back to back…Ziggy could probably go to both, and that'd take up most of the school day. “You wanna go tomorrow? I been lookin' for something for you to do while I'm in school anyway.”
“School.” He repeated, “That's the building I found you in, right?”
I laughed. “Yeah. I gotta go back. You can't come with me, though, and I don't think my parents would be cool with you being in the house by yourself. Nothing personal, they just don't know you like I do. So how about it? We can run to the store and grab you some paints and shit, and you can try them out at home tonight.” I smiled at him. “I think you'll like it. You're basically making things with colors, and you can use whatever colors you want.”
Ziggy smiled. “Colors…” He looked at the poster again and pulled it off the cork board, holding it close. “I want to go.”
I chuckled and clapped him on the back. “It's settled then. C'mon, there's a craft store a few blocks from here. I got some cash, we can get you some cheap paints and a pad of paper or something.”
We got home just in time for dinner, and I told my parents about the painting class Ziggy was going to take tomorrow while I was at school. “I figure he can just stay at the library while I'm there,” I explained, “The class runs a few hours, but there's another one after it so he could take it again, or he can just hang in the library. He could work on his English there.”
Ziggy nodded behind a mouthful of spaghetti…from his second plate. “Oh, yes.” He said (after swallowing, thankfully. I made a mental note to give him some tips on table manners), “I speak English well enough…but I'm afraid I can't read it.”
My dad smiled, “Well a library is the perfect place to work on that, then.” He chuckled. “That sounds great. I hope you have fun. Do you like painting, Ziggy?”
“I've never done it before.” He explained, “But I'm very excited. It sounds fun!”
My mom smiled. She was still kinda wary of him, but I could tell Ziggy had totally stolen her heart. “You're so enthusiastic,” She giggled, “How precious. I hope you have fun, then.”
We got back to my room and I busted the paints out, clearing a space on the floor for Ziggy; I needed the desk for homework. I got him a cup of water and a brush, showed him how to wet the little tray of paints, and how to put it on the paper, then clean his brush when he was done and everything. He watched like I was teaching him the word of God; completely mesmerized as he watched the colors swirl in the cup of water, and bubble onto the cheap paper I bought him. He took the brush like I was handing him the most fragile piece of fine china ever, his breathing short, staring at the damn thing in total awe. It didn't really occur to me until that moment just how deprived of color Ziggy really was. He looked like he crawled right out of a black-and-white film - I'm kinda surprised I passed him off for some fucking European (I don't even know where Denmark is…or even if it's real) - he's got absolutely no color to him, except for a touch of green in his hat. Now he was getting to play with color itself, and make shit with it.
It was kind of a wild moment.
He selected the color red, slathering the wet paint all over his brush, and moved it over to the paper. It dripped a few times, which he panicked over, but I assured him it was cool, no harm done.
“You can't hurt it,” I told him, “It's just paint and paper. Plenty more paint where that came from too, so don't be afraid to get messy.”
Ziggy eyed the brush nervously, biting his lip. Finally, after like a million years of contemplation, he touched it to the paper, pulling down and leaving a bold streak of red. He smiled. I smiled too.
I left Ziggy to his paints while I finished my chem homework, and I swear to God it was like giving a little kid his first paint set. He was completely fixated on it, painting dozens of things all over the papers I got him. He'd filled up half the pad by the time I finished balancing my equations. I would have finished sooner, but he kept laughing and showing me his work. It was funny, to say the least; he painted like a little kid too.
I went to grab my history homework when he suddenly laughed. “Look,” He said, and held up his finger. I glanced over my shoulder to see a spot of yellow paint on his finger, and a matching one on the tip of his nose. “I got paint on me.”
I chuckled and shook my head before going back to my work. Then he said, “You know…it would be nice if it were this easy.”
Puzzled, I looked over my shoulder again. He was staring down at his latest creation; another apple. He'd painted like twenty of them. “If what were that easy?”
“Color.” He explained with a sad smile. “I wish I could just…paint myself, like this paper. Then I could have color, too. Like you.”
I was quiet. I didn't really know what to say. We'd had this conversation before. I still felt like color was kind of overrated, but I knew Ziggy cherished it. I guess I couldn't say I blamed him; there was pretty much no color where Ziggy came from. Everything was dank and grey and fucking depressing. Color and life, or happiness, as far as Ziggy was concerned, were all intertwined. I guess in a lot of ways he wasn't entirely wrong, either.
Smiling, I looked back over at him. “You wanna know something?” I asked him, and he looked curiously up at me. “You kinda do have color.” I chuckled at the look he gave me, and pointed at my chest. “In here, man. You weren't born with color on the outside, but I guarantee you, you got way more color inside you than anyone around here. Maybe even in the whole world. You're the most colorful guy I know.”
Ziggy smiled and went back to his painting…and for a split second, I could have sworn I saw some red in his cheeks.
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