Thursday, November 02, 2006

Character sketch

Erin Andrea Svegda is twelve years old, and lives in Birmingham, Alabama. Right now, it is eight-twelve on Tuesday morning, and she just got off of the bus at
Montgomery Elementary school where she is enrolled in Ms. Webley's fourth grade
Erin does the same thing every weekday. Alene wakes her up at seven-thirty, and she, along with everyone else, goes downstairs to eat breakfast. It's usually
cereal or oatmeal. (except on Fridays, Alene makes the everyone chocolate chip
pancakes) Then it's time to go down to the middle of their suburban cul-de-sac
of Ridgewood Drive, where the bus picks up Erin and her two foster brothers, Mark
and Julian.
The bus ride is always pretty annoying. Erin's seat-partner is Lewis Sampson, who is in third grade, smells like old socks. He wears really brightly colored shirts, sometimes bright green and sometimes bright yellow, and a lot of the time he pulls Erin's hair. Her bother, Mark, is almost fourteen, and says that Lewis just likes Erin, that's why he picks on her. Erin thinks that's really stupid.
The ride to school is pretty long, and since there is no air-conditioning on the bus, it gets really hot. It's only March, but Birmingham is known for its
sweltering springs. Erin notices that Lewis smells even worse than usual. It must
be the heat. He flicks her in the arm, and she ignores him.
Erin decides to distract herself and think about the things she can't wait to do this weekend. Alene is taking her and the boys to visit Lake Toxaway in North
Carolina. Alene's parents live there, and they always have a variety of
unhealthy snacks and candy for the kids. Of course because Erin is the girl, she
sometimes gets something extra, like a barette, or something girly from Alene's
mother. Julian, who will be seven in two weeks, always cries when Erin gets
something more than he does. He doesn't even realize he has no use for a
Erin loves the drive to Toxaway. She will stick her arm out the window and pretend she can extend it really far and touch all the pine trees they pass. And of course, eventually, they'll stop at McDonald's. Erin loves McDonald's. Usually Alene
only takes them on special occasions like birthdays, trips to Toxaway or sometimes
if Julian has given himself an especially bad boo boo and his cries cannot be
Of course the ride gets really boring, but Erin has a method of fighting the
madness. She loves to draw. Alene bought her a pad of Crayola colored construction
paper for Christmas, and Erin won't ever be without it, or her over-sized purple
Erin loves it when Alene takes her to Edwin's Art Supplies. She sometimes asks Alene to buy her way too much stuff; a big green eraser, or a box of willow
charcoal (Erin isn't sure what she would do with it, but she wants it anyway) and
Alene laughs and shakes her head, her brown curls bouncing all around. The art
store trips are also special because the boys are never interested in going with
them. Mark will stay at home and babysit Julian (who will probably have hurt
himself somehow by the time Alene and Erin get back) and the girls get to spend
some real quality time together. Alene is an artist, and paints portraits for a
living. Erin always feels so proud when they are at the art store because Alene
always knows what she's talking about with paint and paper. Erin aspires to know
the same things when she gets older, and sucks the whole experience in like a
Finally the bus arrives and the children are sent inside in their perfect,
single-file line. Erin is relieved to be in the air-conditioned school, and makes a
bee-line to Ms. Webley's room. Today is a really, really good day. The first
Tuesday of every month, a crazy guy named Charlie comes into the class to teach art
to all the kids. Erin gets to put her drawing abilities to good use. She hopes they
get to draw something cool, like a yellow fish or some weird African beetle.
The clock strikes nine, and Ms. Webley stands up at her desk to hush the kids. Then she tells everyone to get out their drawing supplies, and Charlie comes in with a bright green boa constrictor wrapped around his shoulders, and asks everyone if they are ready to draw Jake the Snake. Erin can hardly contain herself as she yanks the pad of colored paper out of her book-bag; and then, out of the front pocket, her big, big pencil.


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