A Fortune Too Late – A True Story

“You are a hard and earnest worker,” my dad read aloud, placing his uneaten fortune cookie on his plate. He’s never been fond of the small Chinese desserts.

After my dad had read his fortune, my mom and my brother soon followed. “What’s yours say, Noelle?”

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “I’m too full to eat it right now.” Not thinking much of the small fortune, I placed my cookie into my jeans pocket and followed my family out the door of Happy Panda.

I needed to get home quickly to finish the art project that I had been working on. All that month, I had dedicated every waking minute of my life to finishing my art projects before the last day of school, May 24, 2007, and I still had one more to complete. The previous week before, I had finished my acrylic painting of a parrot sitting on a branch before a pinkish sunset and was proud of the outcome, but now, my art teacher, Mr. Stein, had assigned a final art project that was due on May 23rd. He said that out of all the art projects that we had done over the school year, this one took the most time and was his favorite one to do. The assingment was to bring in three to four objects from home, arrange them on a table, and take a picture of them. After taking the picture, we had to upload it to a computer, make five copies of it, and morph four of the copies a different way. We would then print out the five pictures, and place them on a large cardboard-like canvas. We would place the four morphed pictures in a square formation in the background with the main emphasis, the original, unmorphed picture, lying in the middle of the square. After preparing the drawing, we then had to draw it with pencil and then color it with any media we would like.

For my project, I had brought in a small fox, a marble with a rabbit on it, a maroon quill pen, and Playstation2 controller. With only a week left to work on the project, I brought it home every night and worked on it from the moment I got home to the moment I went to bed.

Now, as I returned home from Happy Panda, the one treat I had gotten that entire week, I trudged down the stairs to my room and walked over to the small fold-out table that I had temporarily set up in front of the television in my room. Picking up the remote that was lying next to my art project, I flicked on my TV and waited for the Gilmore Girls main menu to come up. I had just started watching the entire series on DVD for the first time when I began working on my art projects and was now watching the sixth season. With my colored pencils spread out across the table and my refrence pictures to my left, I set to work.

I worked through the entire weekend, rejecting babysitting opportunities and fun activities. I was determined to finish my art project, and when I am determined, nothing can stop me for I have great perserverance. I ran upon many troubles with my collage as the pencil lines that I had previously drawn out smudged away, forcing me to stop coloring and redraw two of the frames. Some of my colored pencils withered away until they were unusable and my blending sticks were just about gone. I was working with the last of my materials, but I had to finish, and I needed to complete my project.

Finally, after many hours, I had finished my picture at about 4:00 on Sunday, but remembered that each frame needed a background. I moaned and stretched my aching back for a few seconds before returning to my table and planning out four backgrounds. With only ten minutes left before I had to go to bed, I proudly held out my canvas before me and smiled with pride. I had finished! Glancing down to the inch-long pieces of wood that used to be my colored pencils, I thought over how much work I had put into this piece. I couldn’t wait to get to school the next day and show my art teacher.

The time had come when I held my piece in my arms and waited in the basement stairwell after lunch. Some of my classmates were waiting along with me, but only one other had finished their art project over the weekend. We each spoke about how much work we had done over the weekend, waiting for Mr. Stein to come down and unlock the door. Not long afterwards, we were all flooding into the classroom as Mr. Stein asked for everybody who had finished to show him his/her piece. After Niko had shown him his and had placed it into the Turn-In pile, I handed Mr. Stein mine.

“Hmm…” he said. “I really like this, but the background doesn’t do it justice.”

“So, I’m not finished with it?” I asked, not hearing what I wanted to hear.

“Well, I don’t know. You can turn it in, but I really don’t like that background. I think that you can do better. Let’s ask Mrs. Hansen, and see what she thinks.”

I followed my teacher out the classroom to ask the other art teacher what she thought. After Mr. Stein handed her my piece, she looked it over a bit and exclaimed, “Ooh, that is so beautiful. This definately needs to be in the Art Show next year.”

“What do you think of the background Mrs. Hansen, don’t you think it could be better?”

“Well yes, I think that this background doesn’t quite look as well done as the other parts.”

“I think it looks a bit rushed,” Mr. Stein stated.

Mrs. Hansen returned the piece to me and Mr. Stein told me to work on it some more and to put as much work into the background as I had with the emphasis. Leaving the art room disappointed, dragging my work behind me, I went through the rest of my school day, dreading the time when I went home once more. I was really looking forward to having some free time and had already folded up my fold-out table and put away all my supplies, but now I had another long day of work ahead of me. Once I got home, I set up my area once more and turned on Gilmore Girls again. The spirit seemed to have left me, but the determination had not. I worked on the background for another six hours before finally going to bed, hoping that my work would meet Mr. Stein’s standards the next day. The piece was due tomorrow and I wasn’t sure what I was going to do if he didn’t like it. Too nervous to sleep, I thought over my next day, dreading it to the point of making myself sick to the stomach.

Once again I waited within the stairwell after lunch. This time, I sat in a corner and studied my work intently. I had spent all the time I had on it, even staying up until 3:00 in the morning two nights, and I was hoping that it was enough.

Mr. Stein came down the stairs and placed his key into the door. After unlocking it, I waited for everyone to enter before me, although I was the first one there, before going in myself. With my head low, still looking for any flaws in my piece, I walked slowly to my assigned desk in the far back corner.

“All right, if you’ve finished your piece, come up and show me before you turn it in,” Mr Stein called out. Once again, I was walking towards my teacher with my artwork grasped in my hands, hoping that he would accept my hard work. I handed it to him, allowing him to look it over. “Well it’s better…All right, turn it in right over there,” he said pointing to the Turn-In pile. “Oh and can I put this in the Governer’s Show next year?”

“Sure,” I said with a slight smile knowing that I was finished with the hard work and that I had turned it in on time, giving me an “A” in Art class. With a slight sigh, I gave me piece a final glance before placing it in the Turn-In pile. I was finished!

Through the rest of the day, I was happy and proud of my work. I couldn’t wait to get home, and although I really wanted to sweep and vaccuum my room, I was too tired and sore, and planned to just relax a bit. After I had gotten home, I found myself sitting at my computer before my desk. I sighed and stretched while thinking of what to do when I spotted the fortune cookie that I had placed next to my computer four days ago. I snatched it up and popped the bag open before cracking the cookie open and reading my fortune.

“Don’t take life so seriously.”