The Willows

by Lisa Hammer

The ART TEACHER, Gary begins to distribute the art supplies to the girls sitting at each table.

GARY
(Sarcastic)
I’d hoped to start you all off with
Sargent or Whistler discussion
today, but I guess we’ll have to
settle for painting hearts on
barrettes.

Gary approaches Elise’s table.

GARY (CONT'D)
Cerce, why don’t you try turtles,
here’s some green and blue acrylic
paint-

CERCE
I’m actually partial to Whistler.

GARY
Cerce, you never cease to amaze me.
I’d love to discuss art with you,
after I get the others started on
their macaroni sculptures.

They smile a knowing smile. He notices Elise.

GARY (CONT'D)
And you must be the newest addition
to our family? Elise-

ELISE
Mallory.

GARY
Mallory? Mallory what?

ELISE
Elise Mallory. And I don’t belong
here, so don’t get used to me.

GARY
(smiling)
Oh. Right.

Gary glances over to see THREE MEN IN WHITE LAB COATS who take notes on a clipboard. Gary snaps around and walks away to hand art supplies out to
the other girls. Elise looks back at Cerce, but Cerce is busy quickly drawing
Elise’s portrait with charcoal.

CERCE
(smiling)
I want to capture the depth of your
anguish as it happens. In the
moment.

Elise gives Cerce the finger. Cerce quickly draws her new pose on another piece of paper. They both laugh. The lab coats take notes.

CERCE (CONT'D)
Wow. I didn’t know you had teeth.

ELISE
Huh?

Cerce smiles a big smile. Elise smiles a shy smile.

CERCE
Don’t mind them. They’re not really  here.

ELISE
What?

CERCE
They’re just observing.

TRINITY, an 11 year old wispy little girl, a serious bookworm with glasses, leans over from another table trying to join in on the fun.

TRINITY
Shadenfreude.

CERCE
(laughing)
God bless you.

TRINITY
No! You have it!

Trinity moves as if to join them at the table. Elise and Cerce laugh.

CERCE
Get lost, titless!

All the girls around them laugh at Trinity. Trinity shrinks back into her seat and looks as if she’s going to cry. Cerce notices this and stops laughing abruptly.

Elise is also suddenly aware of Trinity’s humiliation.

The two girls take inventory of the cruel looks on the popular girls’ faces. Cerce and Elise look like they suddenly feel horrible.

Elise peers at Trinity’s paper. She sees drawings of strange shadowy figures. She looks puzzled.

Writer's excerpt courtesy NYWIFT (NYWIFT.ORG)