This is another fictional story to touch your life. I hope you enjoy it!
Little Amber Melancholy was usually nothing like her name. She was the happiest child I’d ever seen in all my years of teaching elementary school. Not only did her hazel eyes resemble ballerinas twirling in morning sunbeams, but the rest of her sparkled like she was a walking gem reflecting some great light.
But one Monday morning, things were different for Amber. As my first-graders brought their giggles and chatter into the classroom along with the smell of exhaust fumes from the buses and the chill that clung to their coats, Amber brought a heaviness with her. She didn’t smile, keeping those dimples that framed her smile hidden, and she didn’t wave to me from her desk or offer me a hug like most mornings. Instead, she quietly slipped into her chair without a peep. Something was terribly wrong, and I wondered if it had to do with her grandpa. Amber’s mom had told me that the child’s grandpa was terminally ill.
While some of the children compared weekend stories in the back of the classroom as they hung up their coats and tucked away their lunch boxes in their cubbies, I took the opportunity to talk to her, stooping down at her desk.
“Good morning, Amber.”
Her chin sunk low, nearly touching her chest.
“Is everything okay? You seem sad.”
She didn’t budge.
“Is there anything I can do? Would you like to talk?”
She shrugged. “Mommy said they weren’t always like that. That they used to be just like me.”
“Who are you talking about, sweetheart?”
“The people in wheelchairs.”
I knew Amber’s mom was a nurse at the hospital, so I asked, “Are you talking about patients at the hospital?”
She shook her head. “No. The place where my grandpa lives now with all the other people that stay in wheelchairs and beds all the time. He had to move there yesterday.”
I sighed, realizing they’d probably taken him to a place to receive palliative care.
“Oh, sweetheart. I’m so sorry.”
As the other children took their seats, I whispered to her, “Can we talk more about it later?”
Again, she shrugged.
As I returned to my desk in the front of the classroom, I silently prayed that God would show me how I could help this sweet child with such a tender heart. So young to carry such a heaviness. Class hadn’t even started when I felt a nudge to change what I’d planned for their art project.
Okay, Lord. Lead the way.
Later that day, the children were in the cafeteria while I was alone in the classroom. I took a stack of drawing paper from the cabinet beside my desk. I had originally planned to have the children make lions and lambs from the cardstock patterns to hang beside the large “March” in the hallway but knew that would have to wait. Today it seemed God had something else in mind.
The classroom filled up quickly and it took a moment to quiet everyone down.
“Okay, children. It’s time for an art project.”
Usually when I made this announcement, Amber was on the edge of her seat with her hand in the air, pleading to help pass out materials. But today she chewed on her fingernail as she stared at the floor.
I took the stack of paper and handed each student a piece. “I’m going to ask you to draw something special for me today, so please wait to begin until I’ve given you my directions. And you can use whatever you’d like: pencils, markers, or crayons.”
After everyone had their paper and all eyes were on me, I began.
“I’d like you to pretend you’re someone else, and I’d like you to draw what you would see if you were looking through their eyes. For example,” I said, picking up the lamb pattern and showing it to the class, “if you were a lamb, what would you see?”
“Lots of grass,” one child said.
“And dirt,” another shouted, “with worms!”
I smiled. “Probably. And if you’re looking through the eyes of an ant, would things look really big or really small to you?”
“Really big!” they shouted.
“That’s right. So whose eyes are you going to look through? It can be anyone. An animal. A person. When you decide, draw what they might see.”
This had been an idea I’d gotten for an art project last year when a student asked me if eagles thought we looked like bugs or rocks when they were up in the sky really, really high. I’d loved the idea and knew God had reminded me of it today. Only, I wasn’t exactly sure how it might help Amber.
I returned to my desk, giving the children time before making my rounds to encourage them, and realized some of them seemed a little bored with the idea. Thankfully, Amber was not one of them. She was busy drawing, her hand moving quickly as she switched back and forth between markers and crayons, her tongue sticking out slightly as she focused.
When a few had finished, I weaved my way through the rows of desks to have a look.
“Whose eyes am I looking through?” I asked Maize, noticing her drawing of what appeared to be a room with a purple blanket on the bed and dolls and boxes on the floor.
“Beanie’s eyes,” she said. “He’s the bunny I got when I got my ears pierced, and he waits on my bed when I’m at school.”
“That’s wonderful, Maize! I feel like I’m really looking through Beanie’s eyes while he’s sitting in your room. Good job.”
She beamed, the freckles stretching across the tops of her cheeks.
“What about your drawing, Trevor? Whose eyes am I looking through?” I was guessing a fish or some other water creature because of the blue waves and the other fish in the picture.
“A bird. He’s swooping down for his lunch.”
“Oh, very good! I can see he has a lot of fish to choose from. I wonder which one he’ll pick.”
He considered the idea and started adding more to his picture, perhaps to make one fish look more appetizing than the others.
As I made my way through the class, nodding and offering praises to my budding artists, I had circled back around and was at Amber’s desk. I didn’t see her drawing because she held it to her chest as if it were extremely private.
“Would you like to share your drawing with me?” I asked.
I expected her to shake her head or maybe shrug. I even wondered if I might see a few tears, but she did something that surprised me. She smiled. My sweet, tender-hearted Amber Melancholy smiled, those gorgeous dimples making their long-awaited appearance. I felt myself exhaling slowly without even realizing I’d been holding my breath.
She held out her drawing to me, and I studied it. She’d drawn an open gate in the foreground with a whole crowd of children running to it. They had messy hair, dirty knees, and great big smiles on their faces. Some were holding hands and others were, it appeared, sprinting straight to the gate.
Before I could ask, she said, “This is what it’s like to look through God’s eyes.”
I was shocked and without words.
“The people that are sick and hurt,” she said, pointing to their knees, “are still little kids to Him. They’re not old or hurt or anything. And they’re smiling really big because they see Him.” She paused, looking back at her own drawing. “You can’t see God in the picture because you’re looking through His eyes, but He’s smiling even bigger than they are because they’re home. And they’re not sick anymore.”
“It’s lovely, Amber,” I whispered.
Her hazel eyes danced in their own light. “Can I take it home? I need to show my grandpa so he’ll know God is waiting for him and he doesn’t have to be sad. He’s going to get out of bed and run.” She stopped and pointed to a child that was eagerly running in the drawing. “That’s him right there. He’s the fastest one.”
I knew Amber had a great light shining from within her, and I had no doubt that light was from the One who’d helped her to see through His eyes that her grandpa was going to be just fine.
And I thanked God because I knew Amber was going to be just fine, too.
Thank you for reading this short story. I hope you enjoyed it!
Also, another great big “Thank you!” to one amazing editor, Julie Schultz, for allowing this story to be a part of The Outreacher. God bless you, Julie, for all you do to further His Kingdom!
If you’re interested in reading more short stories, please click here.
(Photo from pexels.com.)