THE SLATE WALL
written by Debbie Williamson
“Come on Melissa,” said Daddy. “We are going to see your new bedroom now. Come on and get out of the car.”
“Oh do I have to,” said eight year old Melissa. “I don’t see what was wrong with my old bedroom.”
“Melissa,” said Daddy, now losing patience. “We’ve had this discussion so many times already. We wanted to buy a new house. Our old house was getting too crowded and now that Mommy is going to have another baby, well, we just need more room.”
“Okay,” said Melissa. “I guess it won’t hurt to see it.”
“That’s my girl,” said Daddy, taking Melissa’s hand and walking her up the stairs to the front entrance.
Melissa kind of glanced around nonchalantly at the other rooms in the house. She was only here to see one room and that was the one that was going to be hers. She didn’t care about the rest of the house. In fact, she didn’t care about anything that didn’t affect her.
“Now close your eyes,” said Daddy, at the doorway to Melissa’s bedroom.
Melissa closed her eyes, playing along with Daddy because she didn’t want him to get angry at her again.
“Okay,” said Daddy. “Now open them.”
“Oh my!” exclaimed Melissa, genuinely thrilled when she was her new room. “I think I’m going to love this room.”
There on one wall, the biggest wall, was a chalkboard the length and height of the room.
“Wow,” exclaimed Melissa. “A huge chalkboard! This is going to be fun.”
Daddy couldn’t get Melissa out of the room when it was time to go. She was so busy drawing trees and flowers and sunshine and little birds. She just didn’t want to leave.
“Okay,” said Daddy. “How about an ice-cream cone?”
That did it. Melissa dropped her piece of chalk and went willingly with Daddy. Once outside in the front yard though, Daddy stopped to look at something.
“What is it?” asked Melissa.
“I don’t remember that tree being in our front yard when we first came to look at this house,” said Daddy.
“I don’t know,” said Melissa. “I didn’t look when we were coming in.”
“Hmmm,” said Daddy, scratching his forehead, with a puzzled look on his face.
Moving day came and Melissa was so excited. She had so many things planned out that she was going to draw on her wall. She wanted it to be pretty and full of colourful things. Daddy had already bought her a big pail of coloured chalk.
Melissa went to work straight away on her wall. She drew little gardens and ponds and trees and little animals. She drew a frog sitting on a lilly pad. She drew a chipmunk sitting on the side of the pond, eating an acorn. Melissa was having so much fun and she was so happy too. She loved her new room.
Melissa and her parents started noticing different things popping up in their backyard that weren’t there before. Look, now there’s a pond in the garden.
“Does the pond have a frog in it sitting on a lilly pad?” asked Melissa.
“I don’t know,” said her mother. “Let’s go take a look.”
Sure enough, the pond had a frog sitting on a lilly pad and there was also a chipmunk sitting on the side of the pond, eating an acorn.
“I drew this garden,” said Melissa.
“What?” asked Mother. “What are you talking about?”
“On my wall, I drew this garden and now it has come to life,” said Melissa.
Melissa continued drawing pretty things on her chalkboard and those pretty things always appeared in the garden. Both Mother and Father were completely baffled but they knew Melissa was very happy and also very creative.
“Mother is going to the hospital now to have the baby,” said Daddy. “We’ve got our neighbour coming over in a few seconds to look after you until I get back from the hospital. Be a good girl okay.”
Melissa gave Daddy a hug and went back to her drawing on her slate wall. The neighbour came into her room and watched her for a minute.
“Dear,” said the neighbour, picking up a piece of chalk. “We all know that there should be snakes in a garden too.”
“NO!” exclaimed Melissa, angrily. “Put my chalk down. You are going to ruin my garden.”
It was too late. The neighbour had just drawn a large ugly snake in the middle of the garden. Melissa looked out her bedroom window and saw the huge ugly snake slithering around the tall grass. Melissa quickly went over to the chalkboard and wiped the snake off it. She went back to the window to check. The snake was gone.
Melissa was so angry at the neighbour for what she did that she drew a picture of the neighbour with a scratch down the side of her face. The neighbour showed up in the room a few minutes later, with a great big scratch down the side of her face.
“How did you get that scratch?” asked Melissa, already knowing how she got it.
“You gave it to me,” said the neighbour. “When you took the piece of chalk out of my hand.”
“I never did,” said Melissa.
When Daddy came home from the hospital and saw what Melissa had drawn on her slate wall and saw the scratch on the neighbour’s face, he believed the neighbours version of the story and he grounded Melissa to her room.
Melissa couldn’t believe that Daddy thought that she actually scratched the neighbours face. She was so angry and distraught that she started drawing evil and bad things on her slate wall. She drew dragons spitting fire and lightning strikes and darkness.
All of a sudden, it turned real dark outside in the garden and Melissa could see lightning strikes in the sky. She could also see huge balls of fire hitting the side of the house. Daddy quickly came into Melissa’s room and got her outside to safety.
“What about the neighbour?” cried Melissa. “Is she still inside the house?”
“No, she isn’t,” said Daddy. “I sent her home already.”
“Oh thank goodness,” said Melissa.
Melissa and Daddy watched as their house burnt down to the ground, while the firemen tried so hard to save it.
“Next room I get,” said Melissa. “I don’t want a slate wall.”