Another Legacy 2.16

One summer afternoon, Kiki had that rare feeling that everything–absolutely everything–was all right in her world. She couldn’t remember a time like this, when all the aspects of her life seemed in order. Her freelance work was going great, earning accolades and higher commissions. The apartment was furnished and decorated just the way she liked it, and all the appliances were fixed and pesky stains cleaned up. Jonah was earning good grades at school and seemed like such a happy kid, overall. “He’s just got such a good attitude,” his teacher had said at the last parent-teacher conference. “Even when other kids tease him, he just smiles and carries on, like water off a duck’s back.”

When she got home, she found an email from her contract agency. A big film studio was looking for concept designs and requested her, specifically. If they didn’t get her, they’d go somewhere else. It was a big job–would she do it?

She took the job. With everything going so well, she had the extra bandwidth to focus on this. She stayed up late that night, sketching out a few ideas to send to the producer, so she could see if she was on the right track before devoting too much time in that direction.

She got up a bit late the next morning to find Jonah busy with a drawing.

“What are you working on, bud?” she asked.

“It’s such a big project,” he said. “I gotta finish it up before school to send to the design studio.”

She chuckled, but it made her wonder, too, about how much of her–what she did, what she said, what she thought and felt, even–Jonah took in.

“Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?” Jonah asked when he got back from school.

“No,” she said. “In fact, I’m still not really sure it’s what I want to be. It’s just sort of what I do.”

“You mean, you didn’t choose to be an artist so you could be different from everybody else?” Jonah asked. “So when they teased you, it wouldn’t matter because you were, like, a famous artist and words couldn’t hurt you?”

“No,” she answered. “The teasing just sort of stopped when I got to college, and I think I’ve always just accepted that I was different, even before I started doing art.”

She wondered if something was going on. Maybe she should have asked more when his teacher mentioned teasing, even if she did emphasize that he handled it well.

“Let’s spend some time together,” she said. “Would you like a story?”

He chose the big book of Grimms’ fairy tales.

“Can you read ‘Simpleton’?” he asked.

OK, now she knew something was up. She’d talk with him after the story. But partway through, he said, “Excuse me,” and ran upstairs. When he came back, he was wearing a bear costume, part of a matching set that they’d worn for a community center talent show–the Singing Dancing Bearios!

“Feel like being a bear, huh?” she asked.

“Yeah.”

“I remember I was a bear for a while, when I was a kid. Would you like it if I were a bear now, too?”

“Would you?” he asked.

When she joined him, two yellow bears on a blue couch, she thought maybe this was the right opportunity to talk.

“So, grrrr. It’s kinda sweaty to wear these costumes in summer, growl. Any special ggggreason to wear them tonight?”

“I just thought if I was a bear, people couldn’t call me fat, because pineapple bears are supposed to be fat.”

“Oh. Are people calling you fat, then?”

He nodded his bear head.

“Other kids?”

Another nod.

So this was, at least, part of the teasing.

“I bet that feels lousy,” she said.

He nodded. She pulled him close and they sat together for a bit.

“I’m too sweaty,” he said.

The next morning, he was still in his bear suit, so Kiana put hers on, too. Together, they worked on their designs.

“I want you to know that I think you’re just right,” Kiana said.

“I think I am, too,” said Jonah.

“Did you know that I used to be really fat?” Kiana asked. “I mean, really–like way overweight.”

Jonah laughed. “Now you’re teasing!”

“No, it’s true!” She told him all about how heavy she’d been her first year of high school, and how she turned that around once she discovered that there was a correlation between being overweight and all sorts of health problems.

“I liked myself,” she said, “and I loved how I looked, but I decided it was more important to be healthy. Then, fitness and wellness became special interests, and I joined the soccer team in college, and that was that!”

“I want to join the soccer team when I’m in college, too,” Jonah said.

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