A Cloudy Imagination


“How did family home evening get here so fast?” grumbled Jonathan to himself. He kicked at an imaginary pebble on the front step and sighed in frustration.

Last week Jonathan’s father had announced that for their next home evening they would have a family art exhibit. When he had explained that Jonathan, his brother, Tom, and his sister, Janie, were each to create a picture or some other kind of art to share, everyone had cheered at the idea. Even Mom and Dad would prepare something to be shown. “If you’d like,” Mother had added, “you can display more than one thing.”

Jonathan’s enthusiasm had quickly faded, though. More than one thing! he thought now in exasperation. I’ll be lucky to think of anything. I’ll bet when Dad made his announcement, everyone thought up a good idea right away of what they would make.

Each day Jonathan became more concerned because he hadn’t come up with an idea for his picture.

“Be creative! Use your imagination!” his mother had said. But her encouragement hadn’t helped at all.

“I don’t think I have an imagination,” Jonathan had told her. He’d hoped that his Primary class would give him an idea, but even it hadn’t helped.

Now Monday had arrived, and everyone was ready but him. All last week he’d watched Janie going in and out of her room, her hands full of paper, scissors, glue, lace, and felt-tip markers. Jonathan didn’t doubt that whatever she was making would be close to a masterpiece.

He already knew what Tom would display. For as long as Jonathan could remember, his older brother had been drawing fantastic race cars. Their bedroom walls were loaded with his art specialty. “I wish it were as easy for me to think of something to draw as it is for you,” Jonathan muttered under his breath so that Tom couldn’t hear it.

Jonathan was still thinking about his problem when his friend Marie ran across the yard toward him. “Want to play baseball?” she asked.

“Not today,” Jonathan answered. “I’m kind of busy.”

“You don’t look busy,” Marie said.

“Well, I’m busy thinking,” Jonathan answered her. “I have to come up with an idea for family home evening tonight.”

“What kind of an idea?” questioned Marie.

“An idea for my display in our family art exhibit.”

“I’ll help you think of something,” Marie said as they settled down on the front lawn. “Why don’t you draw a picture of your family?”

“I can’t draw very well,” Jonathan admitted. “Anyway, I’m trying to think of something better.”

“Don’t you have some pictures from school that you could use?”

“Sure, I’ve made lots of things at school, but everyone’s seen all that stuff.”

Suddenly Marie sat up straight and said excitedly, “Why don’t you make a chalk picture? We did those in school last year. They’re really fun, and easy too.”

Jonathan thought about it, then said, “That’s a good idea, but I don’t have any chalk.”

Marie lay back on the grass to think some more. “Maybe if we think about something else, an idea will just pop into our heads,” she said.

Both children were quiet for a moment. Then Marie pointed. “See that cloud? It looks like an elephant’s head.”

Jonathan stared up at the fat clouds dotting the sky. His face brightened as he spotted the one Marie was pointing at. “Hey, you’re right! And that one over there looks like a pony with its tail missing.”

Jonathan and Marie had a lot of fun watching the clouds change from animals to ice cream sundaes to bull-dozers to fancy ball gowns.

Suddenly Jonathan jumped to his feet and raced for his front door, shouting back, “Thanks a lot, Marie. You’ve been a big help.”

That evening when Dad called everyone together for family home evening, Jonathan ran to his room and gently picked up the blue construction paper he’d been working on since he left Marie. On it he had glued puffy cotton balls to form huge elephant ears, a roundish head, and a long trunk. Jonathan smiled as he carefully made his way back downstairs and into the living room to share his cloud picture with his waiting family. Placing his creation beside the others, he grinned and said just loud enough for Mother to hear, “Maybe I do have an imagination after all!”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Shauna Mooney