In any event, here’s a bit of a flashback for Sela, the main character in The Remaking.
Her hand moved delicately across the canvas, skinning the faintest shade of charcoal off the stick. She retraced and added another careful swath. Even though the table was inclined, Sela hunched over it, trying to twist her posture enough to untwist her drawing.
She had been practicing for a few weeks, and she wasn’t sure whether there was any improvement. She could smudge out decent skylines. Who couldn’t?
But she was having a devil of a time trying to draw organically. Every time she drew an animal or a person, it came out awkward and misshapen. And not the sort of misshapen the way a cartoon is supposed to be. All of her human renderings had a demented look, as though a first grader had drawn them.
Sela was fifteen, just a few months away from turning sixteen. And she had discovered art. Just like ballet a few years earlier, she wasn’t very good, at least not yet.
The art teacher at school, Mr. Garvey, encouraged her to keep working at it. He said that drawing was a skill that took time to develop. He also praised the things she drew, but then, he praised every other kid’s drawing in the art class too. That’s sort of what an art teacher is supposed to do, Sela figured.
Still, it was a nice sensation, the smooth canvas slipping softly against the edge of the charcoal. Even if the face already looked stretched and alien, Sela enjoyed it. She liked the idea that she could create something. Something that didn’t exist until she got her hands dirty.
Maybe if she could develop her ability to draw, she really could put the creativity in her mind out onto the canvas, let the image speak for itself. Her father had bought these nice pencils and canvas, had put together the desk himself.
She wanted to be able to justify buying more canvas, however much it might cost. The concept of money was still new to her, since her parents usually got whatever she wa—
She whirled around to face the voice. “Leon!”
He looked through his glasses and down his nose at her, a smug look of contempt on his young face. “Who were you expecting? One of your shallow friends?”
Sela glared at him, but she knew not to protest the insults. Her friends liked to have fun, and so did she! It didn’t make them shallow to hang out on the weekends, to help each other put together cute outfits, and to talk about boys.
“What’re you doing here?” she asked.
Leon’s family had moved up north a year earlier, three years after they had initially moved to the suburbs of Nashville. Sela had been more than happy to see him go.
“I came back to town with my dad.” He smiled at her, the way a hammer might smile at a nail. “We’re just here for a few days.”
A few days? she thought. Great… just great.
He looked different. Sela realized that he was fifteen now too, and he had grown. He would grow more, but he was as tall as she was now. Tall and lanky, all of his earlier chubbiness stretched out over several extra inches of height.
“Yeah, I figured you should it hear from me; you guys are moving.”
Sela rolled her eyes and dismissed the statement, “No we aren’t.” Her father had promised the family would stay in Nashville. That was the benefit of his job as a research professor.
She turned back to her canvas, and then sighed when she saw the dark line that had streaked across the page. It must have happened when she had whipped around. Leon again!
“Yes, you are,” Leon insisted. “You’re moving in a month, to Megora. Me and my dad’ve set up everything.”
“We’re not moving,” Sela replied. When they had last moved, her father had promised that Nashville was where they would stay. Maybe the line on the page could be a horizon. She put the charcoal to the canvas. And what would that make the misshapen face? Some hideous ghost?
“You’re moving. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it.” His voice was uncaring, as though the mere fact that he was saying something made it simple truth. “The Council wants to fund your dad’s research. They’re giving you guys a lot. If was up to me you’d have to get one of the condos outside the Tower, but dad got you one inside the Tower of Hope.”
“Well, isn’t it great that none of this is up to either of you,” Sela fired a glance back at her cousin.
The malice in his grin was razor-sharp. “It’s not up to you either. You’re moving, and so what if you don’t want to.” He almost laughed at the frustration he saw in her own flustered expression.
“We are not moving!” Sela spun back to the desk and slammed the charcoal pencil back into the box with the still-wrapped pencils. It broke in half, and she didn’t care.
She wanted to throw the whole box at Leon, stain that annoying expression with charcoal, shoo him out of her room, out of the house, out of her life forever.
Why? Why! Why did he have to come back just to tell me this!
Sela huffed a breath out and turned back around. Leon was still there, his grin now cranked wide with all the glee he got from bothering her. He seemed to have a special place in his heart for annoying her. He never laughed, and yet the same dark joy was there. What was the word she had learned in English class? Schadenfreude?
Leon liked to control things and he treated people like they were things to be controlled. Only his father was beyond his disdain, and by extension, the people his father revered.
Sela had even seen Leon talk down to his own mother, and he had not seemed at all distraught when she had passed away in a car accident two years earlier.
He just stared at Sela, standing in her doorway, arms crossed as though to block her from leaving his bitter company. Some guests, like some fish, stink immediately.