She said I’d ruined it. And I was ashamed. It didn’t take much to get me there. She did it with the expert use of, Oh Jennifer, I’m surprised at you. How do they know which kids that will destroy? How do they spot the ones for whom a fall from grace will be a fall into the abyss? It’s an art.
You see, I wanted him to have a smile. I didn’t like pictures with no smiles in. Every odd-eared rabbit, every fat elephant, every rough approximation of Mum, had a smile as wide as its face. And when I saw that this wet butterfly, this blobby, red and blue, poster-paint creature, had no face at all, I felt too sad to stop. So I got a pencil from the tray at the front and, on one side, above his right wing, I drew a round face and made him smiley.
He doesn’t need to be smiley, Jennifer, he needs to be symmetrical. And the rubber was smearing in the wet paint and I had no chance of ending up with what they wanted. His face was a dark circle and he had to go in the bin. She pinned the good ones between giant, sugar paper flowers and every time I looked at them I blushed. I blushed and shook and hoped she’d forgotten how much I’d let her down.