I read this when I was in third grade. My aunt sent me The Third Anti-Coloring Book for Christmas that year, and this essay was in the front of it. I remember where I was when I read it for the first time.
He always wanted to say things. But no one understood.
He always wanted to explain things. But no one cared.
So he drew.
Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn’t anything.
He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky.
He would lie out on the grass and look up in the sky and it would be only him and the sky and the things inside that needed saying.
And it was after that, that he drew the picture.
It was a beautiful picture. He kept it under the pillow and would let no one see it.
And he would look at it every night and think about it. And when it was dark, and his eyes were closed, he could still see it.
And it was all of him. And he loved it.
When he started school he brought it with him. Not to show anyone, but just to have it with him like a friend.
It was funny about school.
He sat in a square, brown desk like all the other square, brown desks and he thought it should be red. And his room was a square, brown room. Like all the other rooms. And it was tight and close. And stiff.
He hated to hold the pencil and the chalk, with his arm stiff and his feet flat on the floor, with the teacher watching and watching.
And then he had to write numbers. And they weren’t anything. They were worse than the letters that could be something if you put them together. And the numbers were tight and square and he hated the whole thing.
The teacher came and spoke to him. She told him to wear a tie like all other boys. He said he didn’t like them and she said it didn’t matter.
After that they drew. And he drew all yellow and it was the way he felt about morning. And it was beautiful.
The teacher came and smiled at him. ‘What’s this?’ she said. ‘Why don’t you draw something like Ken’s drawing? Isn’t that beautiful?’
It was all questions.
After that his mother brought him a tie and he always drew aeroplanes and rocket ships like everyone else.
And he threw the old picture away.
And when he lay out alone looking at the sky, it was big and blue and all of everything, but he wasn’t any more.
He was square inside and brown, and his hands were stiff, and he was like everyone else. And the thing inside him that needed saying didn’t need saying anymore.
It had stopped pushing. It was crushed. Stiff.
Like everything else.