Cast of Thousands, chapter 23
The bouncy girl got out her own crayons and lay down on the hardwood floor to work on what she thought of as her "psychedelic hippie money". The peacocks took on tones of royal blue, silver, gold, violet, and emerald. She colored in every single inch of it, making sure not a speck of white was left anywhere by the time she was done. It hit the eye like an explosion in a rainbow factory.
Her own portrait in the center was particularly colorful. It still looked more or less like her, but her hair was now bright red and her eyes several vivid shades of green. She nodded in approval and put it away.
Jessica folded herself up on her bed, pulling her knees up to her chin, and looked around. Her room was a nice little place to think. She had a wall of her own artwork collected over the years as well as her collection of posters. The late afternoon sunlight made the wood of the floor and the yellow walls seem to glow. The window was decorated with three prisms and an amateur stained-glass duck, the kind of suncatcher that can be fired in the kitchen stove. She had a small lime-green gummy rubber lizard sticking to the window, too, as if it were climbing its way up to the sky. The rest of the room was mostly books and dolls scattered around a beat-up wooden desk and child-sized table, her orange bean bag chair, and the wide shelf above her bed.
The old familiar posters of rock stars and colorful galaxies lining the sunny walls made her feel calm. She gazed at her autographed poster of Mia Hamm and thought:
What should we do for the cover of the zine?
She felt vaguely surprised at herself for initiating a conversation.
Well, Mr. Baker said it worked for him.... So why not just talk to Marcy? Oh, I don't know, she's not here and I want to work on the zine. So let's see.
Well, something secret? Maybe a lock? Chains across it and KEEP OUT tape? Police crime scene ribbons even? No you know what would rock? If it looked like a diary! Like a secret almost teenage junior high schooler diary! And then all these people would want to read it because everyone likes reading other people's personal writings!
But some people might be afraid to read it. Like, they might feel bad because they feel like they're reading some kid's diary without their permission.... Well, maybe we could put a thing on there like "please read." Like in craft stores where they have stuff they want you to touch so you'll feel how nice it is and want to buy it.
Jessie grabbed a notebook and pen and began sketching rapidly. There was a knock on the door, and Gail stuck her head in. "Hey, shrimplet, what's happening?"
"I'm trying to draw the cover for our zine," she said without looking up.
Gail sat down on the edge of the bed. "Can I see?" She peered over her little sister's shoulder. Jessie tried to angle the notebook away from her, and Gail dove and swooped around to grab it.
"Let go!" Jessie squealed, and then "Oh, that is it!" She tossed the notebook aside and leapt on Gail, tickling her mercilessly. Not to be outdone, Gail tickled back, and Jessie kicked like a cat, and soon they were play-wrestling until Gail begged for mercy.
She caught her breath and said pertly, "This body isn't as young as it used to be, you know. So, can I see what you were drawing?"
Jess picked the notebook up again and held it out to her. "See, it's going to be called The Secret Lives of Junior Highschoolers, and it's going to look like someone's diary."
"KEEP OUT, MY DIARY, PLEASE READ," Gail read off the cover. She snickered. "Wow, does your diary have multiple personalities?"
"Nooooo," Jessie said sternly. "I just didn't want people to think they couldn't read it because it was someone's diary.... Okay, that doesn't make as much sense when I say it out loud as it does in my head."
"No, it doesn't," Gail agreed. "Look, it's a zine, they bought it, they'll know it's for them to read. Anyway if they don't then they have serious issues and that's not really your problem."
"Yeah, I guess," Jessie said, almost convinced. "So you think I should take that part off?"
"Yeah, I kinda do," Gail said, fingering the drawing. "The rest of it looks good though. I like it. I'd buy it."
"Of course you'd buy it. You have to buy it. Well, unless I just give you it for free, anyway."
Gail giggled. "If you were smart you'd make each of us buy a copy. Exploit multiples! Convince us we haven't paid for it yet! So, you wanna do something together? Or you still gotta work on the zine?"
"Nah... I should save something for Marcy to do. I think she's gonna copy it for free at her mom's work!"
"Oo, nice," Gail said approvingly. "Use those free resources. Anyway. So what do you want to do?"
"Ice cream," Jessie said promptly.
Gail considered this. "Before dinner?"
"Yes," she said firmly.
"Well... no, we'd better not. Your mom would have a fit. And anyway that's a Kitten thing. I mean, I wouldn't want to deprive Kitten of the chance to go have ice cream, and I want to spend time with you myself right now."
"OH oh oh!" Jessie leapt up. "You can drive! You could drive me to pick out a Halloween costume! It's my year to get one cause last year I wore the Cinderella costume for the second year in a row!"
"That sounds pretty good. C'mon, munchkin, if we leave now we can be back before dinner."