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The Boy Who Painted the World
The Boy Who Painted the World
The Boy Who Painted the World
Ebook187 pages2 hours

The Boy Who Painted the World

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About this ebook

Indigo is a boy with a dream.

He spends his mornings in a refrigerator box, his afternoons shoveling snow, and his nights in the basement of a homeless shelter. But during every free moment, he draws and dreams of becoming a famous artist.

His best friend Jade looks after him, but she is arrested for shoplifting and he's left all alone. With his box of pencils under his arm, he sets out on a quest to search for Jade and discovers a whole new world… full of the art he loves.

His journey brings him friendship, family, and the courage to hold onto his dreams.

A novel for children ages 9-12

Release dateJul 17, 2017
The Boy Who Painted the World

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    Book preview

    The Boy Who Painted the World - Melody J. Bremen


    The Boy





    Melody J. Bremen


    © 2017 Melody J. Bremen

    All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

    This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

    Printed in the United States of America.


    Dedicated to dreamers everywhere

    Chapter 1

    I remembered certain things about my mom.

    Her mouth was always turned down and her eyes always looked away. Never at me.

    I remembered going with her to her job and sitting in the corner, coloring with crayons. We always slept in different places – at her friend’s house, or her friend’s friend’s house. Then one day, we were walking out on the street and she said to me, Wait here. I’ll be back in a minute.

    I was five years old.

    She went down the block and turned the corner. I waited a minute. And another minute. And another minute. I sat down, took a blue crayon out of my pocket and drew a circle on the sidewalk. I kept coloring the circle in, darker and darker as I waited. It was a deep, dark, indigo blue.

    The sun went lower in the sky and I got scared. I started to cry.

    Orange sneakers stopped in front of me. Hey, kiddo, where’s your mommy?

    I looked up. A small teenage girl with a long, dark ponytail stood in front of me. I don’t know. I cried harder.

    Hey. She smiled. I’m Jade, she said. What’s your name?

    I looked down at the blue crayon and said, Indigo. It wasn’t my real name, but I liked the color.

    Jade sat down next to me. She took off her jacket and put it around my shoulders. You want a piece of gum? She gave me a piece of gum and she talked to me until the streetlights turned on.

    Hey, kiddo, it’s getting late, she said, I’m not sure your mom is coming right away. Come on, I’m going to watch you tonight.

    She took me to a big, old building she called a shelter. Jade said kids my age weren’t allowed to come without parents, so she sneaked me into the basement. She brought me a blanket and a pillow and food and stayed with me the whole night. The next day she walked me back to the place where my mom left. She stood with me all day. She sang songs. She talked to me. My mom didn’t come for me. I felt lost and sad, but having Jade there made it better.

    We went back to the shelter that night to eat and sleep. The next day, Jade took me with her to her job. She worked in a daycare center. I wasn’t allowed to go in, but Jade gave me paper and a pencil. I sat right outside the front door and drew pictures until she came out.

    It didn’t take me long to figure out that Jade was a better mom than my real mom. She played games with me. She told me jokes. She found my ticklish spot. She sang lots and lots of songs.

    She hoped to become a famous singer one day. She said I could design all her CD covers since I was good at drawing.

    Days passed. Together, we made up superhero stories about people we saw on the bus. She taught me how to jump over cracks in the sidewalk and how to find shapes in the clouds. We built mutant alien snowmen in the winter. We stomped in puddles when it rained. We went to movie night at the public library. We played our own made-up sport when the park was empty. We called it Jadigoball. Which made no sense because we didn’t play with a ball. And Jade never remembered the rules.

    Now, five years later, Jade was still taking care of me. I knew I would always be okay, because I had Jade.

    Jade taught me to knock on the doors of nice, big houses and ask people if they needed any work done. I got good at delivering newspapers, raking lawns, shopping for old people, and shoveling snow.

    A lot of snow was piled on the ground, but my shovel broke, so I’d been keeping my eyes open for a new one. Jade and I were shopping in a thrift shop, looking for gloves because my hands were so chapped they were bleeding. We couldn’t find gloves that fit me, but we did find a shovel.

    How much for the shovel? Jade asked the guy behind the counter.

    Twenty bucks.

    What? Are you kidding me? Twenty bucks for that rusty old thing? I’ll give you five. Jade considered herself a professional haggler.

    She got it for twelve dollars in the end. I walked out of the store with my new shovel.

    Then Jade was off, running to her job interview. Now she worked as a waitress, but they told her she had to leave because she was disrespectful to her boss. Jade sometimes told the truth too much and it got her fired. I hoped this would be a good interview and she would get a job she would keep for a long time.

    With the shovel over my shoulder, I headed out. The wind blew past me and pulled at my coat and hair. I breathed on my chapped hands to keep them warm.

    Mornings weren’t a good time to go job hunting. Once, I headed out early, and a lady opened her door and I asked if I could rake her leaves. She stared at me and started asking a million questions. Why aren’t you in school, little boy? Where’s your mother? Why are you outside when it’s so cold? Do your parents know you’re here?

    I backed away and tried to come up with a good answer, telling her it was Boy Scout Day and I needed to do something helpful, but never mind. Then I ran away.

    When I told Jade about it, she laughed for an hour straight. Boy Scout Day! Ha ha!

    After that, I kept out of sight in the mornings. Which was fine, because that gave me plenty of time to draw.

    The public library was right around the corner, so I went in there, where it was warm. I walked past the front desk and went into the children’s section. Next to the shelves was a low table. I sat on one of the little blue chairs. A pile of paper for coloring was stacked in the middle of the table, but it looked like some kid went and scribbled on all of them. I sifted through them until I found one that was blank. I pulled a grey pencil out of my pocket and started to draw.

    I drew for a long time, filling up every part of the paper. I drew the inside of the thrift shop, with the stuff cluttered on the shelves. Then I turned the paper over and drew the front lobby of the library. With a pencil in my hand, I lost track of time. I forgot about the world. It was just me and the paper.

    Eventually, I noticed the ache in my stomach. I folded the paper and stuck it in my pocket. It was time to head outside and make some money so I could buy food.

    I left the library, headed right and walked five blocks, into the better neighborhood. I turned up the front walk of a big house. Lots of white piles were left from the snowstorm a few days ago. I knocked. No one answered. I went to the next house. Knocked. No one answered.

    House to house, I kept knocking, until someone opened the door. A man.

    Shovel your walk? I said. I gave a huge smile with my teeth clenched tight. I was trying to keep them from chattering.

    Um… The man looked at his walk. It wasn’t very snowy, just a few packed-down patches. Yeah, I guess you can do those spots... I’ll give you six dollars for it.

    Six dollars was better than no dollars. Sure thing, sir. I gave him a thumbs-up. Sometimes, if I was polite, they gave me cookies.

    I shoveled every bit of snow away. When I finished, my stomach was growling loudly, begging for food. I got my six dollars, walked back to the Burger King on my block and bought a hot dog. I didn’t eat it inside the restaurant. I never ate there. Too many people might look at me and wonder why a ten-year-old boy was by himself and not in school. Jade always said, When I’m not around, don’t get noticed.

    I bought a soda can at the vending machine outside, then headed for my favorite place in the world. It wasn’t far. All I had to do was walk to the other end of the block. I took a huge bite out of my hot dog and drank a gulp of soda as I walked.

    Bub’s Craft Shop. I pushed open the door and warm air surrounded me. The ceiling was low and the aisles were narrow. I breathed in deep. Ahh. Paper and pencils. I came here almost every day, just to look. This time, I was going to buy something.

    Hey, Indigo, Bub called from the checkout counter. How’s the world out there?

    Hi, Bub, I called back as I walked farther into the store. It’s good. How’s business?


    I’m buying today, I said.

    Must be my lucky day.

    I didn’t go up and down the aisles like I usually did. I went straight to the aisle with the colored pencils. I knew which set I wanted – the one with the reds and oranges and browns. That one’s called Sahara Plains, Bub told me the last time I was in the store. He said it slowly, his eyes wide, like it was something very important.

    All the pencil sets had names. I owned the Earth Tone set, the Dreamscape set, and the Basic Color set. One day, I would own every set in the store. I had my eye on a big one – it came with twenty-five color pencils and two regular black charcoal pencils, plus an eraser. It cost thirty bucks. It would be a long while before I could get that. I stood for a minute, staring at it. One day…

    I took a pack of Sahara Plains pencils off the rack and went to the front of the store. Bub sat with Mickey, the guy who worked there. They always talked about football, or the president. Bub was a big guy with no hair. He always wore shorts – no matter the weather – and short-sleeve polo shirts in different colors. Today it was yellow. Whenever I saw him, he was talking or chewing. Or both.

    I think I’m going to order a bunch of these, Bub was saying. He held a thin book in his hand. It’s bright, it’s modern, but also classy, you know?

    We already tried carrying something like that, Mickey said. No one went for it.

    I put my box of pencils on the counter.

    Hey, whippersnapper, Bub said to me. He tossed a couple of sunflower seeds into his mouth. Would you buy this? If you were a scrapbook kind of person, I mean.

    I took the book from him and flipped through the pages. On every page, there were different awesome designs. Yeah, I would get this. Look at how they made this frame – it’s so cool!

    See? Bub said, looking at Mickey. He thinks it’s a good idea, too.

    Mickey rolled his eyes.

    Bub took the book back. What have you got there? He leaned forward and put his elbows on the counter.

    I nudged the box towards him. Sahara Plains.

    Excellent choice, sir, excellent choice. He always said that.

    I reached into my pocket and pulled out the three dollars leftover from that day, plus all the other money I had saved up. I laid everything out on the counter – scrunched dollar bills, quarters, dimes. I added them up. Fourteen dollars and fifty cents altogether. I knew the pencils were sixteen dollars. I pulled my pockets inside out to see if I’d missed any coins. Zilch. My shoulders sagged. I didn’t have enough money. I waited for so long, I didn’t want to wait another day. I got my last set of pencils over half a year ago.

    What you got there is good, Bub said.

    I looked up at him and smiled. Really? Thanks, Bub.

    Maybe you can draw a picture for me. I’ll hang it up. He motioned to the wall behind him. He always asked me for one of my drawings, but I couldn’t imagine showing my pictures to anyone besides Jade. I didn’t want it hanging up on a wall where everyone could see. They were my drawings. They were part of me.

    I shrugged and said, Maybe. I stepped away from the counter. Bye, Bub. Thanks for the pencils.

    You have a good day now. Draw good things.

    As I headed for the door, I heard Mickey say, Why do you always let him off so easy? You’ll go broke being so charitable all the time.

    I’m supporting a young budding artist, Bub said. One day, you’ll see.


    The door closed behind me. I liked Bub. Mickey, not as much.

    And I liked being called a young budding artist.

    The air was icy, but I didn’t care. The sky was completely white with

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