Count Crayon & Other Stories
by Jessica Sequeira
There was once a creature in charge of all the colours in the world. It was Count Crayon. It could decide whether the grass was pale or dark green, the sky blue or overcast. At first it took this power for granted. It even complained about having to take care of these things every day. Then it realised how much power it had. It could control whether or not there were shadows. It could decide whether the world was gloomy or bright. It could choose whether people were light or dark on the inside, too. When it realised this, it was at first tempted to use its power for dark purposes. It had people it did not like, and friends it wanted to cheer up. When it felt gloomy it wanted to colour the whole world dark blue, and when it felt happy it wanted to leave the page sparkling white. But Count Crayon knew it could not think this way. In all places it had to keep the balance between dark and light. Picking the colours out was not easy. But every morning it coloured its pictures with the greatest care. It always used every crayon in the box.
Bowl with Dragon
As a birthday present, a little girl who was fascinated by Chinese mythology received a beautiful white porcelain bowl with blue designs. There were swirling clouds on the sides, and at the bottom of the bowl was a smiling dragon with big whiskers and a long tail. The girl liked her present very much, and began to use the bowl at suppertime. Soon, however, she noticed something. Almost as quickly as she ladled out soup in her bowl, it disappeared without her even touching it. The dragon at the bottom of the bowl was clearly hungry, and was eating everything up. That week it was pea soup, so the girl didn’t say anything, because she didn’t like pea soup all that much. But the next week it was leek soup, and since she loved leek soup, she gave the dragon a good talking to. ‘You must eat less,’ she said. ‘You can share a bit of my food, but you can’t just slurp it down like that.’ The dragon writhed around for a while, as if he were dancing with noodles in noodle soup. He didn’t like what he was hearing—but he was quite a reasonable dragon, so he said: ‘I will try not to eat so much. I will not deny, however, that I have a very large appetite. Luckily, I am already full grown, so I won’t get bigger. But I do need to eat, you know.’ The girl thought it over. In the evenings, an hour before dinner, she began to ladle out a bowl of soup for the dragon, so he wouldn’t steal her food or be hungry. But the girl’s mother grew suspicious at how fast the soup was disappearing. The little girl was at a loss for what to do. She thought about it some more. ‘I have an idea,’ she said. ‘Why don’t you come out of the bottom of the bowl and come live on the side with the swirling clouds? There, with your long tongue and whiskers, you’ll be able to lick up all the tasty crumbs from the table after our dinner.’ The dragon agreed, and from then on, every day he was able to fill himself with morsels of bread and rice, and splashes of soup left behind by the family. The dragon was happy, and the girl was happy, and the girl’s mother was happy too, for the table was always left so neat and clean.
It seems like common sense, but not everyone knows that buttons are attracted to some buttonholes more than others. I only learnt this myself a few weeks ago, after I bought a long green wool coat with big black buttons that were wonderful to touch. This winter was colder than usual, so I wore that coat almost every day. One day, however, I looked down and saw that it was missing a button. ‘Oh no,’ I thought. ‘Without that button my neck will be cold even with a scarf, and the wind will come in.’ I thought about buying a new button, but was sure that the other would turn up. The whole day I went around asking myself: ‘If I were a button, where would I go?’ Maybe I’d hide in a door knob. Maybe I’d shine in somebody’s eye. Maybe I’d be the round glint in a cup of black tea. Certainly I’d not appear on a different coat, since buttons only disappear off coats, never reappear. At the end of the day, a little sad I hadn’t found this button, I began to take off my coat. Then I realized I’d been silly. The button hadn’t disappeared; I’d simply buttoned the coat incorrectly, so Button 1 corresponded with Buttonhole 2, Button 2 with Buttonhole 3, and so forth. ‘Silly me,’ I said, thinking I’d made sense of the matter. But it wasn’t over. The incorrect buttoning of the coat happened again three or four more times that week, and I realised it couldn’t be coincidence. That top button just didn’t want to be where it was. So I did what I felt was right. After removing all the buttons of the coat, I switched their order. Now Button 1 corresponds with Buttonhole 2, Button 2 with Buttonhole 3, all the way down the line. Button 6, the one that fell off, corresponds with Buttonhole 1. ‘I hope you fellows are happy now,’ I said. ‘I understand. Some of you just want to be next to your best friends, so you planned this whole arrangement…’ Well, I don’t know if what I’m saying makes any sense. Ever since then, anyway, I’ve never had any problem with my buttons.
Broom Gets Tired
After years of cleaning faithfully, Broom knew the porch by heart. Her owner always followed the same pattern: corners first, then a swish along the edges, pushing everything to the middle where the dirt and leaves were finally shovelled into a dustpan. But the wind and dust always came back, the same wind and same dust. Broom’s task was to keep them out, but witnessing this loyalty to the same spot day after day, this mindless return to the place which for them was home, she began to feel sympathetic. Wind and dust had been coming there for much longer than the owners had occupied the house. Their right to the patio was indisputable by natural law. The owner of the house used Broom everyday, not realising that she was infringing on age old rights. But the wind and dust knew, and Broom knew. Increasingly Broom felt pressure to join the wind and dust. The bristles of her body strained in different directions, unsure what to do, and on purpose she choked herself with fluff balls to delay a decision. Frustrated by her uselessness, at last her owner threw her out. Broom was thrown into the compost pile beyond the house premises. Over time (thousands and thousands of years) eventually she would disintegrate into her elemental particles, losing her capital ‘B’, then losing her little ‘b’, then joining the wind and dust in their eternal billowing into the rectangle of the patio, as all things will in good time.
Image by Mary Anne Enriquez via Flickr (cc).