Chapter Four: The Water (The Adventures of Jolean and the Magic Eraser)


Katelyn Styborski, Writer/Designer

The next morning, Jolean was awoken by a gentle pressure on her chest. She blinked open her eyes, squinting in the bleary sunlight. Instantly, the pressure lifted.

“Wake up, wake up sleepyhead. Come on, come on, get out of bed!”

Jolean yawned, rolling over onto her stomach. “What are you doing, Smiley?”

“I was trying to wake you up,” he said.

She sighed, basking in the warmth of her blanket cocoon, “Well, I’m up now.”

“Whoopee!” The eraser yelled, doing a loop-de-loop. “Can we make more strawberry tarts today? Or we can talk for hours, and then make dinner together, and you can read your books to me or play games!”

Laughing, Jolean caught him in the air. “Smiley, you were listening to me that whole time?”

“Of course I was. I’m a very good listener.” He settled onto her shoulder, his corners puffed out with pride.

Jolean nuzzled her chin against him, and the two went off to amuse themselves.


Later in the day, near the time when things become meager and bleak, the pair lay on their backs on Jolean’s floor, staring up at the ceiling. The orange sun beat down upon them; Jolean shifted away from the beam shining in through the window. She sighed, wiping sweat from her forehead. Humming softly, Smiley lay next to her intrigued by the way the light and the shadows danced upon the smooth surface, entertwined in an exhausting waltz.

The girl tilted her head to the side and brushed her fingers over her most recent sketches.

“Such an inspiring use of blue,” she could hear Dimitri complimenting her as she sat on the counter of the store, wearing down the pristine points of her crayons into soft nubs. He would touch the paper in tender contemplation. Then, he’d wrap his arm around her shoulders in a brotherly hug.

“How have you not been labeled one of the greats, yet? Surely you’ve out-drawn Mason Carbonelii!” And he’d hang up her drawing on the wall behind him, for every customer to see.

“Watcha thinkin’ about?” Smiley’s voice cut through her thoughts, his eyes focusing intently on her.

Jolean stretched like a cat, once more moving away from the warm square of sunlight.

“Oh nothing.”

Smiley considered her for a moment before swishing off the ground to float above her. “Man, it sure is hot.”

“Hey!” Jolean shot up. “That gives me an idea! Let’s go to the stream. We can cool off there. And,” She side-eyed Smiley. “I have a tire swing we can jump off of.”

“You had me at ‘idea!”


The two stood at the edge of the ravine. Murky, but altogether inviting water flowed through the ditch below them. It calmly swirled along the rocks and branches poking out of the sides of the dirt walls, leaving muddy streaks in the water, like a painter’s brush over a canvas. Shielding her eyes, Jolean squinted up at the orange sun.

“Well, Mr. Sun, prepare to meet your greatest nemesis: Water.”

Jolean and Smiley locked eyes, nodded and jumped in! –then right back out again.

“Brrrrrrr! That water’s freezing.” said Jolean.

“I know,” said Smiley. “Let’s do that again!”

“Let’s do it off the tire swing!”

The friends chased each other down the stream, laughing and shrieking whenever they caught each other, until they came to a gnarled old tree. A grey, worn-down tire hung from a thick, dry branch. The limp, woven rope creaked as it rubbed against the tree. Smiley and Jolean stared at the makeshift tire swing, their laughter ebbing away.

“That… is so cool!” Smiley shouted, flying around the old swing. “I love it!”

“Thanks,” Jolean said with a smile, “My friend Dimitri helped me put it up.”

She positioned the swing so its path would go over the water. The two slipped into the tire and walked it up the shore until Jolean was on her tiptoes. Then, she released her feet from the ground.

“Wheeee!” They screamed as they soared through the air.

Smiley and Jolean braced themselves for the cool water, but there was none. Just dry, cracked earth.