When Robert was six years old, his mother took him to a museum. That’s where he saw row upon row of beautiful pictures hanging on the walls.
“Mommy, what’s that?” he asked, pointing to one of the pictures that was made up of many different colored shapes.
“That’s a flower,” said his mother.
Robert frowned. “It doesn’t look like a flower.”
“That’s because the person who drew it didn’t want it to look like a real flower. Instead, he or she wanted you to imagine it was a flower, even if it didn’t look like one.”
“And what’s that?” asked Robert, pointing to another picture.
“That’s a fish,” said his mother.
Turning his head a little to one side, Robert replied, “It doesn’t look like a fish.”
“But that’s what it is.”
“And that?” asked Robert, indicating another picture.
“That’s a dog.”
Young Robert kept pointing to different pictures until there were no more pictures for him to point at. And then he asked his mother, “How did one person draw all these pictures?”
“He or she didn’t draw them,” explained his mother, “they used a computer to create the pictures. It’s called graphic design.”
“I want to do that,” said young Robert, sounding excited.
“Well, first,” said his mother, “you’d have to have a computer.”
Robert turned to her. “Can I get a computer?”
When his mother looked at Robert, she could see he was serious, so she said, “We’ll see. It’s your birthday soon, but you’ll have to be a really good boy, and do everything I tell you to do.”
“I will; I promise!” said Robert, turning back to once again gaze with excitement at the pictures on the wall.
As you might imagine, it took Robert a lot longer than he thought it would to learn how to create pictures with his computer, but he persisted. Instead of watching TV at night after supper and doing homework, Robert would practice for hours using the programs that came with his computer to create pictures like the ones he had seen in the museum. By the time Robert had turned twelve, he had figured out how to create all kinds of beautiful pictures.
“They’re all so lovely,” said his mother, as she looked around Robert’s bedroom at all the pictures he had tacked to the walls.
“I agree,” said Robert. “But I want other people to see how beautiful they are, too. Do you think the museum would display my pictures like the ones we saw when I was little?”
Sadly, his mother shook her head. “I know you’re proud of them, and so am I, but I don’t think the museum would take them.” This made Robert sad. “But I have an idea.”
Over the next two weeks, Robert’s mother collected many different size cardboard boxes. Then helping Robert remove most of the pictures from the walls of his bedroom, they taped them to the sides of the boxes. Then one very sunny Saturday, Robert and his mom set up the boxes in the parking lot of the apartment complex where they lived. Soon, people from all around came to look at Robert’s pictures.
“These are such beautiful pictures,” more than one person remarked.
Someone from the local newspaper even came to take photos of Robert and his pictures, and ask questions. Then while Robert was still reeling from having been interviewed, he spotted a young boy, who looked to be about nine or ten, slowly walking around the boxes.
What was the boy doing, he wondered? And why did he sometimes run his fingers over some of the pictures?
Walking over to the boy, Robert asked, “Can I help you?”
The boy, who had dirty blonde hair, and was wearing a red striped T-shirt and faded jeans, looked up at Robert and asked, “Did you make all these pictures?”
Bursting with pride, Robert replied, “Yep!”
The boy turned back to one of Robert’s earlier pictures. It displayed a multi-colored flower. The boy ran his fingers gently over the picture. “This is the same type of flower that’s on my mom’s headstone,” the boy spoke quietly.
When Robert heard the boy’s words, a deep sadness settled like a rock inside his heart. “Your mother is dead?” he asked the boy. The boy nodded.
“My father died, too,” Robert told him. “I was two years old when he died.” The boy turned his gaze upon Robert. There was moister in his eyes. Robert asked him, “Would you like to have the flower?” Silently, the boy nodded. “Okay, you wait here and I’ll get my mother to help me remove the flower for you.
But when Robert and his mother returned, the boy was gone. “Where did he go?” Robert said to his mother.
Shrugging, she replied, “I hope he’s alright.”
As more and more people came to see Robert’s pictures, some of them even asked if they could buy them. By the end of the day, Robert had made over a hundred dollars. The only picture he and his mother refused to sell was the picture of the flower. “Maybe the boy will return,” said Robert.
The boy did return, the very next day. He was accompanied by a man he introduced as his father. The boy’s name was Kevin. His father’s name was Sam. Both continued to study the picture of the flower, which was back on the wall of Robert’s bedroom.
“It is very much like my wife’s flower,” mumbled Sam.
“You can take it with you,” Robert’s mom told him.
He turned to her. “I’d like that very much. Thank you.”
Carefully, Robert and his mom removed the picture from the wall and handed it to Kevin’s father. Then all of them went into the kitchen, where Robert’s mom served coffee and milk. Along with the milk, Robert and Kevin ate Oreo cookies.
After becoming friends, Robert showed Kevin how to create pictures using his computer. Then Robert found out the museum was going to have a week-long display of young peoples’ artwork, both drawn and those created by computer. He and Kevin each entered pictures for the museum’s display. After the week was over, Robert and Kevin went to retrieve their artwork. That’s when they discovered different colored ribbons next to several of the pictures. These were first, second, and third place ribbons.
“I didn’t know it was going to be a contest,” said Robert.
“So what color ribbon did you get?” Kevin asked him.
“It looks like I received second place.”
“Congratulations!” exclaimed Kevin.
“Thank you. But it would have been a little bit nicer if it had been first place.” Then Robert turned to Kevin. “So what place did you get?”
“I don’t know. Let me go see.” When he returned from where the 8 to 11-year-old pictures were displayed, he had a huge smile on his face.
“Don’t tell me,” said Robert. “You won a blue ribbon for first place?”
Even though he felt slightly disappointed, Robert said to Kevin, “Well, you deserve it. You worked really hard.”
That night, Robert, Kevin and their parents celebrated their victories by having a pizza party.
“I can’t wait for the next contest,” Kevin remarked between slices.
“Same with me,” said Robert.