In the history of school lunches, no one had ever paid this much attention to a side salad. Inky Kahn swatted a straggle of his long hair away from his face, scrunched up his storm gray eyes and tried to conjure the exact green of the lettuce in Amanda’s salad. He concentrated as if everything depended on it.
He wanted his drawing of her to be perfect, and focusing on color helped. He was rusty. Realism, all those cartoons for the school newspaper, that was before.
Last year he filled his notebooks with abstracts, a mad rush of color, emotion running like muck. Rivers of guilt traversing the page.
There were definitely peas in her salad. He remembered how Amanda balanced one on her fork while she laughed (she laughed!) at his story about his nickname. And asparagus? Are there even asparagus in October?
The top of his chest throbbed as if his heart was pushed up, displaced by grief, his insides swollen from the burden he carried.
He wanted to impress the game developer; this was his shot, and if this worked, maybe it wouldn’t matter that he wasn’t going to art school. He was good enough. Why not?
There were things that actually mattered in the world, Inky knew, and just in case he forgot, his school, Manhattan’s prestigious Metropolitan Diplomatic Academy served up heapings of world tragedy and disasters as part of the curriculum. But at this moment, the world, his world, depended on him drawing Amanda.