Hi. I'm Claire.
I want to go to art school.
My parents don't want me to go.
They say horrible stuff about being an artist.
You won't be able to have a job.
You will be homeless.
You won't be taken seriously.
You aren't even that good.
I listen to their comments and I think.
Why would they say that?
Don't they want me to be happy?
Its not true.
I tell myself that over and over again.
I don't know what there is to be done.
So I draw.
I draw my way out of my sorrow.
I draw my parents, scolding me for my passion.
Be a doctor, they say.
Or a lawyer. Or a businesswoman.
Anything but an artist.
And I draw my little brother.
Always giving me the energy to push through.
To keep drawing.
He has cerebral palsy.
He doesn't function like anyone else.
He does his own thing.
And that's what I love about him.
I have to help him around the house.
I told him how to draw.
He's the best.
My mom calls from downstairs.
You can go to art school, she says.
I don't know what to say.
I'm just so happy.
I don't know what happened to change their mind.
But I am so happy it did.
My room is small and crammed with stuff.
Probably my roommate's.
That's her name.
There are Billie Eillish posters all over the walls.
Her bed is untidy with blue sheets.
Comic books are strewn across the room.
I don't know what to think.
Yasmin comes through the doorway again.
Hey Claire, she says.
So what major are you taking?
Digital arts. I want to be a character designer.
Oh cool. I'm in Sculpting.
I walk over and sit on my bed.
It's much neater than the rest of the room.
Sticks out like a sore thumb.
Just like me.
Not because I had cancer, no.
Just because I don't.
Simple as that.
People judge me because of it.
I wish they didn't.
My parents said I couldn't do it.
But here we are.
As I throw my cap up in the air I think of Mikey.
He's even sicker.
Weak and sick.
And in the hospital.
I hope he has the strength to come out.
I hear the beeping from the monitor.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
A steady pulse.
Unsteady for a moment.
My heart skips a beat along with him.
I go to his bedside.
I hold his hand.
He knows who it is, even though his eyes are closed.
Mikey, I say.
He opens his eyes.
Do you want me to draw you something?
He squeezes my hand.
I take out my sketchbook.
I draw a circle.
A few lines.
I add shading.
I show Mikey the picture.
It's something he used to describe when he was young.
No one but him knows it's true identity.
For now, Mystery.
That's it's name.
It's weird how life works.
When you think you can't go on, you find the strength.
But when you are doing good life knocks you down.
Again, and again.
But I keep going.
I help Mikey out of his chair.
Even though I have a job, I find time to help him out.
Me and Yasmin.
When I can't, she will.
I think I love her.
I never thought about being in the closet.
But I think I am.
Mikey goes to art school.
Just like me.
And I am one of his personal instructors.
He is an amazing artist, despite his condition.
Such a fighter.
I aspire to be like that.
He'll graduate next year.
I couldn't be prouder.
He still talks about Mystery.
Won't explain what it is.
But talks about it all the time.
His... imaginary friend.
He doesn't need it anymore, but he still remembers.
And I still remember.
I don't know what exactly I remember.
But I do.