Sketchbook

“Can I look through it?”

Another one. I feel myself being lifted and handed over to the grubby hands of a stranger. I can see her nervously watching the person flip through me, wincing every time they almost rip me as they turn the page. I mean, if you don’t like it that much then why give it to them? I wish I could scream at her but I can’t, I am merely an immobile bunch of paper bound together into a form of a book. I would sigh if I had a mouth.

After being handed back, she goes through me carefully page by page, to see if there was any damage that she did not catch and sighs when she sees a sketch of an eye that was smudged. She should have said something instead of just standing there like a helpless child. I can’t speak but she can. Useless of a human she is. I know she is my owner but I cannot do anything else than speak negatively of her.

The bell rings and I’m shoved back into the backpack. It’ll probably be a while before I’m taken out again. I thank god I was put in the front pocket instead of just being carelessly shoved into the big one. I don’t like the front pocket that much; my cover gets scratched by the assignment notebook stored with me. But at least if I’m in here I’m protected from being ripped by her binder or folded by that Japanese textbook. But seriously, why does she bring it with her every day, even on the day she doesn’t have Japanese!

I was squished in a claustrophobic’s worst nightmare until lunch. I only managed to endure the time because it would soon be one of my favorite times of the day. Not because I eat as humans usually do (I can’t anyway) but because I finally am put to use. Lunchtime is when she has time to draw and I love being drawn all over. I always wonder what kind of art would be drawn on me; I don’t care whether it is an intricate masterpiece or something that barely even resembles a scribble (I do prefer being used for masterpieces).

I just like it when she picks up a pencil or pen and draws. There is a kind of light in her eyes only when she does. I mean I’ve watched her do other things, and believe me her eyes don’t even light up like that when she’s obsessing over that Benny fellow (Benedict…Cucumber? Was that it?). Never during my time with her had there been a moment in which that light faltered. Useless she may be; it was small things like this that make me happy to be with her

Today she is drawing something that is actually what could be called a proper piece of art. I lie there immobile on the cold cafeteria table, probably shivering if I were a human, as she laid down rough sketches in pencil all over my pale white surface. After a couple of lines, she picks up her eraser, all worn out from being used countless times, and erased a line that did not go with the vision she has in her mind, whatever it might be. The sketching and erasing continued as though the eraser was chasing the pencil, turning the unwanted marks left by the pencil into dust that would be swept away with a brush of a hand and fall to the ground.

During the entire thirty minutes of lunch she, my owner, did not eat a bite, caught up in her own bursts of creativity. When the bell rang, she hurried to pack her bag and ran to the nearest vending machine so she could have something to keep her hunger at bay when she went in to the next class. She must have been in a bit of a rush because she had left me behind. Silly girl. Forgetful as always. I swear she’d lose her own head if it wasn’t attached to her body. She went to her next class leaving me on the table. It was about thirty minutes after she disappeared for my line of sight did I start to feel a bit nervous. There’s probably nothing to worry about I reassured myself, she will be back soon. I waited for her to come back. I counted seconds which quickly grew in to minutes and then hours. But even when the bell rang and the stampeding of the students echoed throughout the cafeteria I did not hear her footsteps coming towards me.

When I finally heard footsteps nearing me, it wasn’t her but a teacher that had noticed me left behind He picked me up and rotated me all over, probably looking for a name. Carelessly flipping through me, he walked over to the lost and found table and tossed me on it.

If I was cold before it was nothing compared to this. But it wasn’t the slowly decreasing physical temperature. It was a cold that rang inside me that gave me a hollow feeling, as though an important part of me was missing. I wanted to curl into a ball but I was only an unmoving bundle of pages.

The light of the windows slowly faded and I was left in darkness. The cold was unbearable now and I just wanted to be back in the claustrophobia inducing pocket. At least it was warm there. At least I knew that she was there. She, my owner, would have always been there to make me feel purpose. At least when I was with her I felt that I was important and not a worthless hunk of ground up tree pulp with a bunch of scribbles all over, left in the freezing and unwelcoming darkness. She will come back soon. She will come back soon and give me back my purpose.

What if she never came back to find me? What if she replaced me with another sketchbook, maybe something that was made of better paper? What would I do then? Doubt filled thoughts filled my head as I laid there among other lost items, some with a thin layer of dust on them, due to being abandoned by their owners. They made me feel even worse. I tossed and turned, in my mind.

But a night full of doubtful and fear inducing thought did not stop me from waiting. I knew I meant something to her. If I didn’t, she would never have flinched every time someone treated me roughly, she wouldn’t try to put me in the front pocket of her bag, she would not even try to draw decent things in me. She, in her own way, cared for me, and I too, though I had not noticed it until I had been separated from her, cared for her. As the morning light filled through the windows I let go of any negative thoughts from the previous night. And I waited and waited. I waited for her.

And there she was. I couldn’t see her because my view was block by a sad-looking lunch box, but I could hear her, the panting of her breath, the slapping of the soles on the laminated floor that grew louder. I could hear her come nearer until she was hovering above me. With a big toothy grin, she scooped me up and squeezed me like I was a teddy bear. Childish behavior really but I could feel the cold of the dark night melting away inside of me. She was here. And I pray that I will never be separated from her again.

Like what you read? Give Yeojin Yoo a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.