Cheer Up, Charlie
Charlie didn't smile much.
Smiles were for kids
Whose lives lacked real artistry
And lived on perfect grids,
Where breakfast comes with sunshine
In saucers made of gold.
That wasn't Charlie's scene at all,
Not even at nine years old.
Dressed in gray and grayer,
He painted pictures of the sheep,
Who bleated shallow drivel
While he didn't make a peep.
But his paintings spoke volumes
About the world he saw:
A dismal, dreary, dungeon,
Ideal for him to draw.
He delighted in his darkness.
He adored his sullen tones.
He celebrated the things he loved
With scores of scornful groans.
“Cheer up, Charlie,” said his mom.
“Be jovial, light, and jolly.”
Though he loved her so, he barked,
“I'd rather be melancholy.”
“Your friends want to play with you.
You used to be so close.
Now you sit inside alone,
Painting yourself morose.”
“I don't mean to be a bother,”
Sarcastically, he spat.
“But I do need more hoodies.
Do they come blacker than black?”
She sighed and left him painting.
How could his mother know?
He couldn't go outside and play
Until he was ready to show
The dark world something pretty.
Something innocent and pure.
Someday the paint would speak to him.
Till then, he would endure.
From crouched behind a thorny bush,
The playground seemed so small.
And though he was quite tucked away,
Somehow, the big red ball
Still found its way over
And smacked him in the head.
“Thanks,” he yelled, sneezing blood,
“My drawing needed red.”
“Sorry about that, Charlie.
It's my first time playing Dodge,”
Valerie Grimm said, tilting her head
And Charlie's focus dislodged.
She was dressed just like a sunrise,
Dipped in honey-golden cheer.
She smiled, waiting for her fate,
And Charlie forced a sneer.
“Watch it next time,” he grumbled
And Valerie rejoined the game.
Looking back to his drawing,
Charlie had lost all his aim.
Growling and crumpling and tossing,
He figured as much would transpire.
Cynicism was a hungry muck,
And there was no avoiding the mire.
But in his darkest hours,
Painting an unconscious work,
Charlie bordered on cheerful,
Adding pink stripes to her skirt.
Her braided hair followed them,
And with ribbon laced throughout,
Her curls rode her shoulder blades,
Making it painful to pout.
Little by little, his sleep added on
Freckles and polish and trim,
Until the day he couldn't deny
The portrait of Valerie Grimm.
The innocent girl was a beauty.
He hadn't seen it before,
But he had to see her again to know
If the painting was honestly pure.
He approached her on the playground,
Shaking but hiding it well
Behind a sour expression,
So she wouldn't be able to tell
How much he admired her color,
Her spirit, her beauty, her cheer.
He couldn't confess that her sunrise dress
Enthralled him as much as things drear.
“I made this for you,” Charlie said,
And the painting passed into her hands.
Her eyes widened and jaw dropped,
And just when all appeared grand,
She grumbled and rolled her emerald eyes.
“Oh jeez,” she said in distress.
“The first time someone paints me,
And I'm wearing that horrible dress.”
“You don't like it,” Charlie whimpered,
And Valerie shouted a “No!”
“I think it's beautiful, Charlie.
I just hate my mom's taste in clothes.
She makes me wear these bright things,
Though I beg her to cut me some slack.
All this purple and turquoise and orange,
When I really just want to wear black.”
“My mom's the same,” Charlie explained,
Feeling ten times his height.
Feeling ten times his height.
“Amazing!” she said and withdrew a pen.
“Wait, I have a poem to write.”
“You write?” he asked hopefully,
But she didn't answer until
The poem was inked onto her arm
And she tucked away her quill.
Valerie Grimm smiled at him
And Charlie's smiled at her.
She was the one he was waiting for:
Something pretty and pure.
And an artist to boot, what wonderful luck
To find her in sunlight near.
So pretty she was in a dark, dark world:
The Grimm girl who upped Charlie's cheer.