Framed

Sophie had framed the drawing she’d found by the side of the road. It looked good on her office wall but the colours seemed to be fading, so she’d put it behind her desk, out of the sun. She kept banging her knees on the frame though.

The frame was also causing problems elsewhere. Since the drawing had been bounded by a black wooden strip, covered by glass at the front, and board at the back, things had changed for the people who had created it – Sophie and her uncle Bobby.

One day Naomi said, “Uncle Bobby, things don’t feel right here. Recently I’ve been feeling trapped. I don’t know why. It’s making me sad.”

“I’m feeling the same way, Naomi. I remember being freer, and travelling wherever I wanted to. Now I feel that we’re stuck in this city. Every day is the same.”

They were no longer able to move in and out of the picture. The frame had created a physical barrier that was impossible to cross. It had also created a mental barrier – to leave the drawing was inconceivable – and a spiritual one – there was no other existence possible, no past or future worlds.

Naomi said, “Maybe we should try to think of a way out. Can we do that?”

Bobby wondered where this talk would lead. He didn’t want to disappoint his niece, so should be careful. There’s nothing worse than a sad little girl. But then he thought, she is already sad, so why not go with her idea and try to change things?

He said, “Sure, let’s try. Let’s decide what we want to do, and then make a…”

She interrupted, saying, “I don’t want to be here. I want to be somewhere else. But I don’t know where I want to go to. I don’t know where else there is.”

“Okay,” he said. “Why don’t we make a mind map? It’s always useful to write things down.”

She wrote the word escape at the centre of the page. Then she joined it to freedom, imagination, desire, will and pleasure.

“That’s a good start,” said Bobby.

She looked at him desperately. “But it’s not changing anything,” she said.

“When I was your age, I loved different languages and scripts. Shall we try some other ones?” She nodded with enthusiasm.

“Okay, I know some letters in an ancient writing system called cuneiform.” He wrote the symbols for dream and vision.

“And here are the Egyptian hieroglyphs for beauty and joy.”

Then he drew astroglyphs for the sun, moon and stars. “Should we go to another star or planet?” Naomi looked amazed, but then looked sad.

She said, “I like all the languages, but they haven’t changed anything. We’re still here.”

The next day Bobby consulted the city’s elders. They said that there was indeed another world beyond this one, but to reach it you must engage in body modification. Between this world and the other world was a permeable layer, accessible by imagery. They repeated ancient words, “Cut through the skin to the edge of the blood flow. There mark thyself.”

It seemed that the way out of the drawing was more drawing.

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