She flipped though her sketch book. It was due tomorrow at her morning art class. She needed just one more full page sketch in order to get extra credit. She paged to the beginning. She had done it all. Gone on nature walks and drawn trees and pretty weeds. Gone out people watching and caught faces in the crowd on paper. She had drawn her friend's pets. a sketch of her small apartment bedroom. A sketch of the view out her window. A sketch of one of the rooms at the museum. Even a sketch of the classroom where she was supposed to be taking notes.

She sighed and bent her head back and stared at the ceiling. She had helped paint that ceiling just before she moved in. She had used a special paint roller that painted around all the bumps. If she pushed too hard, the bumpy things came flaking down. She remembered it took a lot of white paint, the occupants before he been smokers and the bumpy ceiling had been quite a disgusting shade of yellow.

As her mind emptied of these thoughts, her eyes settled on the random patterns formed by the bumps. She made out a face in the bumps here, the shape of a dog there, an alien, a frog with a big grin, a duck man with big shoulders.

Still staring straight up, her hand fumbled for her favorite pen. She studied the lines and placement of one of the faces then quickly glanced down and sketched that very face. She looked up again and found another face to draw. Then a figure, an animal, another. She filled the page with random sketches until some of them started overlapping the others. She filled in more space by drawing the figures even smaller, filling the margins and going off the page in places.

She realized she couldn't fill the page anymore. It was hard not to look up again. She forced herself to look at what she had drawn. All the little faces were accurate representations of what she had seen in the patterns in the bumpy ceiling. But something seemed to be missing. She looked up again and quickly found a new face. She studied it. Yes, she could draw it, but the drawing lacked the chaos that the original possessed.

She shook her head. She reached over and pulled out the Polaroid camera lying among the other junk on the bottom bunk she never slept in. She looked though the view finder and snapped a picture of one of the more obvious faces in the ceiling near the corner. The photo popped out and as she waited for it to develop, she rifled thought her desk draw to find a paper clip.

Looking at the photo, she couldn't see the face at all. She checked the photo against the real thing. This bump, yes, that bigger bump, yes. It was all there. But the essence had been lost.

She sighed and attached the photo to the sketch book page. There was just room enough at the bottom to title the piece. She marked the date, then wrote:

"The People in my Ceiling"

©2000 by Cheri -rift- Meier of

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