People said that I was a daydreamer. I was always wondering about things that would never exist in this world: magical castles, talking squirrels, a cake that would shrink you in a moment. People also said I was an artist. Everywhere I went, I took my own special sketchbook that my mother gave me for my 7th birthday. When I came up with an enchanting image, I got out my sketchbook and drew it. I usually drew at night, on my desk beside my bed, when I was most relaxed.
The reason why I was always doing these things was because I had nothing else to do. I had no interest in piano or cheerleading, and I couldn’t have an amusing little chat with my friends. It wasn’t because I was busy; it was because I didn’t have any friends.
I couldn’t get along with the people in my school. It just seemed like everyone in school disliked me. Every whisper that I heard around me sounded like gossip about me, every trash that I occasionally found inside my desk seemed like a hateful message delivered by someone, and casually joining a conversation was impossible.
I knew I was worrying too much, but I couldn’t help it. No one in the school recognized me as their friend. You might think that this problem would’ve been solved by me talking to someone, but I got all scared when I tried it. What if the person looked at me with a disgusted face? What if they ignored me? Do they even know me? While going over the questions, the courage faded away, and I was in the usual situation: no friends, sad lunch, and a single pencil in my hand. Every day was boring, and I longed for a friend. But I was getting used to the situation-and that was a really sad fact.
So here I was, walking home from school, with no one beside me. When I glanced around, I saw other girls in my class, animated in their talks about who kissed who, or about the shop where Jamie bought her skirt. Sighing, I walked by.
I reached my house and opened the front door. “Mom! I’m home!” I shouted to my mom upstairs. As I reached for the donuts, I heard my mom descending the stairs. I groaned-is she going to ask the same question again?
“Oh Miranda, you’re home! How was school today?”
“Boring and lonely as usual. What’s dinner?” My mom made a slightly sad face. I was used to it- I mean, she always goes back to her daily routine. But today was different.
With a complicated expression, mom opened her mouth. “Miranda…um…are you sure that someone isn’t being mean to you at school? Something must be wrong. Surely you would be able to make a friend! Should I talk to Mrs. Taylor about it?”
…Something must be…wrong? I doubted my ears. How could she say such a thing? My heart was quickly filled with anger. I suddenly screamed to my mom in rage. “You’re telling me that something must be wrong about me because I don’t have any friends? Well for heaven’s sake thank you for reminding me!”
My mom became aware of my emotional tone. “No-no, Miranda, please listen to-”
I didn’t give my mother a chance to interrupt. “I’m not bullied; It’s my own stupid fault that I don’t have any friends! You don’t even know how much your words hurt!”
My mother looked astonished. She opened her mouth, but she closed them.
The anger was drained out, and sorrow gained upon my heart. After all, what my mom said was the truth. Unable to restrain the tears, I ran to my room and slammed the door shut. I was there, standing in the dim room, tears rolling down my cheek.
I stumbled into bed. Why did she have to say that? She hurt the most vulnerable part of my heart where I tried to hide from everyone else but her. I had trusted her, and talked to her about my feelings. Wasn’t she listening? I guess she hates me just like everyone else…. I gradually fell into a deep sleep, tired from all the surging emotions.
When I opened my eyes, it was midnight. The lights were out, and a blanket covered me. Knowing that my mother had done it, and remembering what had happened, I thrust the cloth aside and crawled out of bed. I switched the lights on, and it pierced my eyes. I glanced around the room to find something that might comfort me.
My eyes caught a familiar square shape. My sketchbook. I flipped the pages with no certain purpose. Looking at it distracted me from the worries of my life. With a pencil, I started drawing on a new page. Time flied in what seemed like seconds.
When I stopped, a picture of me living in my fantasy world had appeared on the paper. It was a masterpiece. I smiled faintly, rolled onto my bed, and stared at the artwork.
(If only I could live in this wonderful world…) I thought, without any hope that it would actually become true.
Suddenly I heard a voice.
“Just thinking won’t get you here-you know how it works, Miranda.”
I froze. Who was that? An out-of-the-world voice, yet so familiar, like I’ve known it for years. I looked around. Nothing strange. After a brief silence, I heard the voice again:
“What are you waiting for? C’mon, just do it! You couldn’t have forgotten it, have you?”
The notably familiar voice made me reply. “W-who are you? D-do you know me? And…most of all,” I looked around again, saw nothing weird, and said, “where are you?”
The voice replied with an incredulous tone. “What in the world are you saying? Do I have the wrong person? I’m here, you see! Over here! No, not in the trash can-beside your sketchbook, Miranda!”
I turned my eyes to the sketchbook. There, on the bed with me, was a squirrel-and the voice was coming from it!
After giving a short scream, I jumped off the bed. Breathing hard, I stared at the squirrel. A beret was perched on its head, and it held a paintbrush covered with green paint. I was about to remember something.
Then it spoke. “You’re the one who made me, remember? May 12, 2008, 5:36, in the afternoon, on page 35-oh, just look for yourself!” The squirrel looked at me irritatingly.
I slowly picked up the sketchbook, and turned to page 35, as the animal said. On that page, there was a picture of a squirrel, completely identical to the one standing in front of me. Then I remembered; I drew this on May 12, 2008. I had named it Renny. But it was just a picture-why is it sitting on my bed? I called the squirrel’s name. “Renny?”
“Yes?” Renny cocked his neck, wondering what I would do next.
I carefully continued. “S-so, Renny, you’re telling me…what are you telling me? I first want to know what you came for… and-and all this ‘me creating world’ stuff…”
Renny smiled. “Well if you don’t remember, I need to OH MY GOSH!” Renny suddenly exclaimed. He shot his eyes at the wall clock, and opened his eyes wide. Frantically, he started to speak. “Listen to me and just do what I say!” Before hearing my reply, he continued: “Close your eyes, think about the sketchbook, and say ‘take me to the Sketchbook World!’ Got it? Okay, see you there!” Renny disappeared in a flash.
Then I was alone. Remembering what Renny said, I closed my eyes. It won’t hurt to give one try. I’m really curious about this “Sketchbook World”…. I concentrated on the sketchbook, and uttered the uncommon words. “Take me to the Sketchbook World!”
I felt a rush of air going through my body. I couldn’t open my eyes. I felt no pain. My ears filled with all kinds of sounds; my mind flooded with numerous words. After what seemed like hours, my body was thrown into a white room. When I was finally able to stand up, I spotted Renny right beside me.
Renny grinned at me, and spoke with joy. “You’re here! I assume it was a bit rough, since it was your first time. You’ll get used to it. Anyway, welcome to the Sketchbook World! You created this world; you’ve been continuing to enlarge this world by drawing pictures in your sketchbook. All the images that you’ve drawn in your sketchbook exist here…hey, you following me, Miranda?” Renny gazed into my eyes.
Although I was barely able to catch what he was saying, I said yes. Renny wiggled his tail. That meant he was happy; I had written that in my sketchbook.
“I guess you’re wondering why you’re here. If I say it simply, it’s because you wished to. I came because you seemed to forget how to come here, which is almost insane, since you’re the one who created this way of transportation. July 5th, 2007? Remember?”
I certainly did remember. On that day, I had thought of a secret spell to transport to this world. I replied to the squirrel. “I remember! I should have tried it…by the way, I just remembered why you were in a hurry to get back to this world.” Renny’s ears perked up. I continued. “’Residents of the world must not stay in the human world for more than twenty minutes, or else they will never be able to come back’…right?” I had written rules about this world in various spaces in the sketchbook.
Renny widened his eyes again, climbed onto my shoulders, and rubbed his cheek against mine. “Now you’re starting to get the idea, Miranda! I think we’re ready to explore the real part of this world. Let’s go!” After landing on the floor, the squirrel held his paintbrush in an accustomed way, and drew a picture of a door on the wall.
In less than a second, the green door turned into a real door. I reached out to it without thinking; I knew Renny’s ability to draw something with his paintbrush and make it into a real thing. I turned the doorknob, and stepped outside.
The first thing I saw was a forest. And it wasn’t just an ordinary forest; a sweet smell floated in the air, and you could easily tell that the forest was made up only by…sweets and candy! I knew where I was. When I was 8 years old, I read Hansel and Gretel, and was so fascinated by it that I drew an entire place made up of sweets. I picked up a rock, and bit into it. It was a big chunk of a chocolate chip cookie, and it was delicious!
Renny was stuffing his mouth full with nut-shaped gummies. After devouring it, he asked me casually: “I’m really glad you’ve made this place-it’s one of my favorites!” Then he went back to stuffing himself with all the tasty sweets.
I laughed a little, and started towards the glorious house made of sweets. As we got close to the house, Renny started to glance at me as if he was unwilling to go to the house. Why would that be? “What’s wrong? I’m not going in the wrong direction, am I?” I asked Renny.
Renny stammered. “Well, you seem to have remembered everything, so I guess you’re not walking towards that place without any idea about what you’re doing…”
I wasn’t able to understand what Renny said. I saw the house from the corner of my eyes. Excited by the sight of it, I ran towards it. I grabbed a candy bar from the front gate, bit into it, and smiled at the sweet taste melting in my mouth.
I realized that Renny was hiding behind a tree as though he was hiding from a monster. I was concerned, but the temptation to open the door made me knock. “Hello, anybody there?” No reply. Maybe I forgot to draw someone living in the house…. It’s my world, right? I stepped into the house. Suddenly, a black figure stood in front of me. An old woman wearing a black robe and holding a wooden stick. Then I suddenly remembered-the evil witch who would attack anyone that took even a bite of her house!
“RUN!!” I heard Renny scream, and the next moment I was running for my life. I sensed the witch riding her stick and sending sparks of electricity towards me. Then I heard Renny’s voice. I saw his furry tail from behind the trees. I abruptly changed my direction. There, a green hole had opened in the ground; Renny must have drawn it. We had no time to waste-we jumped into the deep hole like Alice in Wonderland.
When I opened my eyes, I was sitting in a wad of soft, pink cloth. My bed? No…I was in…the flower bed area of my world, yes, that’s it; where warm, fluffy flowers bloom everywhere, great for a brief nap. I glanced around, and saw Renny on the blue flower.
Renny heaved a great sigh. “Miranda, you forgot about the witch? I’m so glad you’re safe. Might we take a little…nap.” Renny slept at the middle of his sentence. I was tired from all the activity, and soon I was asleep too.
When I woke up, Renny was standing right in front of me. He drew a window in mid-air; the squirrel unlocked it, and we were on to our next destination.
Renny and I visited places that I had dreamed in my mind for so long. I visited the lively market of Tivitu, where they sell everything starting from an old shoelace to a piece of the sun; the Animal Kingdom, where I can become any animal; the land of mermaids where music flow and every mermaid live happily together in their shell houses. Every detail that I had drawn in my sketchbook appeared in each place.
I also met many, many characters that I had created. Roger, who flies around the world to deliver mail; Macy, the book that can talk to nature; I even met Olivia, the best cook in Sketchbook World. The characters that I had made actually interacted with me.
I had no intention to go back to my former world. At least, I thought I didn’t.
Renny and I visited an art museum. You only see one picture there; when you stand in front of the empty frame, it shows you the person you want to see right now. I stood in front of a frame. The whiteness wavered, and a familiar figure gazed at me from inside the frame. It was mom. I remembered the day I came to Sketchbook World, and homesickness and blankness surged inside me. I just stood there, staring at mom.
Renny noticed me. He smiled, and asked me to come with him because he has something to tell me. I nodded, and he drew a green door on the wall, and opened. It was the white room; the place I ended up when I first came to this world.
He faced this way, and started to speak. “Miranda, do you want to stay here for the rest of your life, or do you want to go…home?”
My eyes widened. Stay here forever? “Is that true? …The staying forever thing?”
“Of course you can stay here! If you really, really want to. …Do you want to, Miranda…?” He stopped for me to answer.
The answer was inside me. I can’t lie to my own feelings, can I?
“This place is wonderful. Every place and creature we met was fantastic. Especially, you…you became my first friend. Thanks to you, I now love my Sketchbook World.”
Renny’s face lit up with joy. “Then-would, would you-“
”But,” I interrupted his words. I’m sorry, Renny…this isn’t where I belong. “But, I will go back to my world, the human world.”
The room filled with silence. Renny froze completely.
After it seemed like a few hours, I broke the silence. “Renny…? I’m…I’m sorry.”
When I said the word “sorry”, Renny suddenly faced me and said with vigor. “No! No, don’t be sorry! Don’t be sorry for what you believe,” he smiled.
I replied: “Thanks. I might be doing something real stupid, but…I want to go home. I want to see my mom; I want to make the most from the boring world I live in. I don’t want to…give up my life.” We smiled at each other. We knew each other’s feelings.
A little question perked up in my mind. “How do I get home?”
Renny looked surprised, and said, “Well how should I know? You have to make it up by yourself-you created this world, right?”
Right. How to go home…hmm, what if I just do the opposite as I did to come here? I faced Renny, and made an announcement. “The decision is made. Humans transporting to the human world from this world must imagine hard about the sketchbook, and recite the following words: Take me to the human world!” Renny clapped vigorously.
I stood up to leave my Sketchbook World. I spoke to Renny. “I hope I’ll get to see you again. Thank you for everything! I love you…and I’ll never forget you.”
The small creature replied with a hint of tearfulness in its voice. “I won’t forget you either! You’re the best friend a squirrel can have, Miranda!”
We finished our good-bys, and I closed my eyes. The image of the sketchbook came quickly into my mind, and I concentrated on it.
It was time to go back; back to where I really belong. “Take me to the human world!”
My body began to fade from the tip of my toes. I waved a last good-bye to my friend.
“Don’t forget us; please don’t forget us-Miranda…” I heard as I disappeared.
Returning was easier than going. I became drowsy, everything went white, and when the colors came back, I was in my bed. The morning light surprised me. What day is today? I opened my cell phone to check. The day after the day I went to the Sketchbook World-that means I was in that world for only a third of a day! Pretty astonishing.
I headed downstairs. Mom was sitting in the dining room, with a gloomy expression. When she saw me, she suddenly stood up and stared at me. This is the chance, I thought. I took several steps forward. Mom looked surprised, but she didn’t move.
I opened my mouth. “I’m…really sorry, mom. I knew you wanted to help, but I just rejected your ideas without even considering it. I’m so sorry…I’ve been trying to say this to you from, uh…yesterday…but…”
Then tears started sliding down my mom’s cheeks. She hugged me tightly, and said many, many sorrys and thank-yous to me. We had recovered our relationship again.
At school, I performed an unbelievable feat. I…I talked to someone at school. I was so happy that I was able to make up with mother that I felt like anything was possible. Acting nonchalantly, I tapped a girl on her shoulders, and said, “Morning!” At first the girl was silent. What a fool I was, I thought, but after a few seconds she smiled and returned my greeting. Hooray!! I gathered a little more courage, and asked her name. From that, the conversation continued miraculously, and when I realized, I was sitting with the girl in the cafeteria eating lunch! I doubted my eyes, but everything was real. I walked home with the girl, and said our good-bys.
At home, mother asked me the usual question. “How was school today?”
With a smile on my face, I replied. “Absolutely wonderful!” Mother looked surprised.
At my room, I turned the pages of my sketchbook, remembering each experience I had at the other world. Renny was on one of the pages, too. Thanks Renny, I loved being with you, I whispered to the squirrel.
Remembering something, I took out my pencil, and started moving it.
When I finished, I had a picture of me saying farewell to the Sketchbook World and living in the human world.
I drew Renny too.
He winked. At least it looked like he did.