Welcome back to the My Princeton Summer collection, a series of short, prompted, seat-of-my-pants snippets I wrote several summers back for a writing group I got to know for a short time.
For this week’s selection, I know exactly what the prompt was, for two reasons. The first is that I got smart and started jotting them down (for inspiration and reference during the actual sprint). The second is that my friend and I had a fun hand in bringing this prompt to life.
I think this was our second week there. People were starting to get to know us a little better. I, at least, was feeling a little less awkward after a week of being accepted. Somewhere in the middle of the session, the leader of the group announced a prompt based on an animal, a verb, and a color. One of the group regulars provided the animal (a parrot). Then, he turned to my friend.
“Why don’t we pull you two in. You pick the verb.”
Without hesitation or skipping a beat, my friend replied, “defenestrate.”
Many people in the room, including myself, required the definition (it means ‘to throw out a window’ if you also didn’t know). We all had a good laugh about it. No one, clearly, had expected such a sparkly verb, which really set the moment. After things had died down, the group leader turned to me and asked, “So, do you want to give us the color.”
My response? Cerulean.
As a quick side note, my favorite color is fairly passionately blue. It’s worth mention, however, that six-year-old Calley had a favorite shade of blue, of course, from her standard 128-crayon Crayola box. You guessed it. Cerulean. I was fascinated by the fact that the wax was so dark in the crayon, but it produced such a bright, vivid color on paper (although that’s not quite the way I articulated it as a six-year-old). But, seriously, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, pick up your nearest box of crayons and prepare to be dazzled.
I digress. The point is that the group had no idea what they were in for when we were asked to participate in the prompt-picking. The results, as you can imagine given the circumstances, was pretty hilarious for all involved. Here’s my attempt (and probably my favorite thing I wrote that summer).
Where could it be?
I took in a deep breath and let it out through my nose. My fingers began the same twitching that they always did whenever something like this happened. Paranoid, my friends said. Others suggested that I be tested for OCD. But really, I just liked things organized.
And maybe I thought that an alien parrot was stealing all of my things. There was that too.
I closed the box of crayons—not just any box but the only box worth owning. I scoffed at others and their inferior boxes and brands. The sixty-four pack from RoseArt? How could that possibly compare to my 128 crayons from Crayola itself? Immaculately arranged along the color spectrum—with reds on the left fading through a rainbow gradient to the darkest of blues on the right. But there was a hole there, exactly two spaces from the end on the third row from the top. I knew what crayon belonged there.
It was my favorite crayon.
I had torn apart my desk in search of it. Surely I wouldn’t leave anything out of its place. No. It had to be someone else who moved it—or otherwise that darned parrot who continued to harass me at all available moments. He existed. I knew he existed. It was the only reasonable explanation for why my cerulean crayon had been mysteriously transported to an alternate location from the third slot from the right on the second row of my 128-pack of Crayola crayons.
It was then that I looked up. I wasn’t sure if it was out of desperation or out of sheer inability to devise what should be done next. But there—at my window—I saw him. My heart leapt. The bird perched itself precariously on the edge of the sill. There were more colors in his plumage than in my entire, immaculately-organized box of 128 crayons. But that didn’t excuse the one color clearly visible in his beak.
My cerulean crayon.
“I knew it!” I cried. I leapt up from my seat on the floor where I had stared futilely at the imperfect box for nearly an hour now. I launched myself at the window. I could catch him!
But before I had even taken three steps, the bird opened its shiny yellow beak until only yellow remained. The crayon tumbled from the window of my high-rise apartment, down 24 stories, and crashed on the ground.