Plain China

The Restless Spirit of Ernest Hemingway Inhabits the Body of a First-Grader

by Audrey Dubois · Wheaton College
"A Meal of Crayons", Bryan Rubin · Oberlin College

It is human nature to disobey. Refusing to follow orders is treason, but refusing to follow one’s ideology is treason all the same. The measure of a man is not whether he is disloyal, but to whom.

“Stop stalling and eat your zucchini.”

Oh, Mama. If only you knew why I can’t.

***

“What would you like to drink, sweetie?”

“Whiskey, please.”

“I’m sorry, honey, which one?”

“Whiskey.”

“We have apple or cranberry.”

“Gin, then.”

The lunch lady hands me a cranberry juice box and I step aside. There is no straw attached to the box, only a pair of cardboard scars. Before I can say anything she has moved on to the next child.

***

I open a new pack of crayons. Twenty-four of them, arranged in an elegant spectrum and molded into perfect parallel points. I hesitate for a moment before shaking them out of their complacency into a disarrayed rolling pile on my desk. You don’t use the crayons because you want to destroy them. You use the crayons because you are a colorer. After all, if you love and respect them, it is no sin to use them. Or is it more?

***

“For show and tell, I brought this packet of cigarettes. Funny how anyone can ascribe such value to a material thing. Me and the boys used to trade these all the time for money, rations, chocolate too. They were a currency, a currency of security and consistency. These little bastards got me into the front lines of the battle and they kept me there.”

I empty the contents of the cardboard box and crush them into the linoleum tiles with the heel of my light-up Sketchers.

“War is hell.”

About the Author

Audrey Dubois · Wheaton College

Audrey Dubois is, in no particular order, an English and Philosophy major at Wheaton College MA, an improv comedian, a French hornist, a breakfast cereal connoisseur, and a kleptomaniac for good vocabulary words. She enjoys long romantic walks to the kitchen and watching reruns of Star Trek. Her favorite periodic element is seaborgium. "The Restless Spirit of Ernest Hemingway Inhabits The Body of a First-Grader" first appeared in Rushlight. 
About the Artist

Bryan Rubin · Oberlin College

Bryan Rubin is a Junior at Oberlin College, studying Politics and Environmental Studies. He has a passion for relaying complex emotions through photography, and enjoys creating micro scenes that represent a larger picture, in the hopes of blending reality and obscurity. "A Meal of Crayons" first appeared in Plum Creek Review.