"The Power Of Books".
Nothing, Anything and Everything - Rob Daniel
Isabelle had been an artist since she could remember, which was all the way back to her high chair days.
She remembered pouring the soup out of her bowl, mashed banana and apple from her plate and juice from her cup into corners of her little table. From there she would use her fingers, spoon, bib and her hair as a brush, drawing and painting pictures on the smooth white surface.
All her mum and dad could see was a mess. They’d be a cry of, “Isabelle, not again!” and they’d get a cloth, some water and clean both Isabelle and the table clear of food where, happily, she could start again. Isabelle spent half her life in the bath or shower.
Her mum said there must be something wrong with her.
Her Dad was worried there must be something wrong with his cooking.
They both agreed this wasn’t normal until, one evening, after Isabelle had smothered her table with trifle and a stray sausage she’d hidden during her main course, her dad noticed something. He looked down at the mess Isabelle had made, tilted his head to one side and said to his wife, “Come and have a look at this.”
She didn’t want to. Her beloved but eccentric husband had a quirky sense of humour and she didn’t know what he was going to do. Besides, she was fed up of mopping good food up and giving it all to their dog, who was looking fatter and more content every day.
“No, really,” he insisted, so she got up and walked hesitantly towards him.
Isabelle wasn’t taking any notice. She was concentrating with her head down on the table, rubbing food around with her nose and the tip of her tongue.
Mum wrinkled up her nose. “You can give her a shower this time,” she said, “It’s everywhere!”
But dad didn’t answer. “Look,” he pointed as Isabelle lifted her head away from the table so she could admire her handiwork. “Is that … an elephant?”
Mum began to snort, “Of course it isn’t an elephant, she’s only one ...” when she stopped. On the table was a beautifully formed elephant, a side view but with the creature’s head pointed towards them, it’s sausage trunk twisted and curled up at a roguish angle.
“It’s an elephant,” she said, blankly. She looked at Isabelle who giggled back at her, then threw a spoonful of custard at her face. Mum blinked and rubbed her eyes.
“It is,” said dad, pretending not to notice what a great shot his daughter was. “HOW is that an elephant?”
For the next days and weeks they watched Isabelle closely, and every chance their little daughter got she would make, draw, create, invent, paint something. Bubbles in the bath were turned into her own private concert, where Isabelle would clap in rhythm to the popping of the bubbles.
They looked closely at her dirty hand prints on the walls, on the cupboards, even on the ceiling (how DID she get up there?) and they were all pictures. An ocean with a sailing ship, a garden of flowers, a group of pyramids, a scene from an airport and a map of the moon.
“This is impossible,” said her dad.
“This is unbelievable,” said her mum.
“This is FUN,” said Isabelle, her first words.
Her parents found her playing with pencils, glue sticks, dolls, toy fire engines, tables, toothpicks and dad’s electric razor and she turned them all into characters with their own stories, likes and dislikes, fears and dreams. She had different voices for them all.
But it was her art that they noticed more, and what everyone else noticed too. If the windows were steamed up Isabelle would be astonishing her neighbours, who lined up outside to watch, by finger drawing snow-covered mountains, chalets with icicles hanging from them and fearless mountain goats jumping from ledge to ledge.
They’d be pictures of her favourite meals being turned into art created from flour on the floor, white and brown sugar rearranged into desert landscapes and when Isabelle discovered food colouring, it was time to distract her.
As she grew up her work became ever better and more varied, and her imagination bounced and took off in new directions with every new thought she had. Meanwhile her parents had bought her oil and water coloured paints, soft pastels, pencils, chalk, anything that would make a mark.
They even got reams of paper, but Isabelle rarely used paper.
And from the time she could write, Isabelle kept a journal, writing down and drawing all the techniques she learned so that one day she could share the book with everyone, so everyone could do what she could do. In the middle of the cover she painstakingly drew and coloured a giant green emerald that looked so real it seemed to stick out from the cover.
And Isabelle was always looking for a bigger canvas, something that had no end, no limits, so she could create anything and everything that happened in her mind so she never had to stop.
She thought nature would be big enough, but as she sat one night on a hill, drawing and shaping her thoughts and interpreting them as leaves falling from a tree, she glanced up and saw her new canvas.
Isabelle gasped. The Universe would be her canvas. It was as infinite as her imagination and as she stared, she instantly joined billions of invisible lines to the visible and invisible twinkling dots that hung suspended over her head. “There’s nothing I can’t do,” she said, quietly to the moon.
When Isabelle got home her parents were snuggled up reading in front of an open fire, drinking hot chocolate and slowly munching on hot marshmallows.
The both looked up as she came in and smiled. “Hello, what did you get up to today?” her dad asked.
“Everything,” Isabelle answered happily.
“So what are you going to do tomorrow?” asked her mum.
“Nothing, anything AND everything,” she laughed, curling up and falling asleep on the rug.