January 15, 2009. Exactly six months from today I will be graduating. Throwing my cap in the air and being forever free to live my life as I please. Free. What a scary thought! My palms start to sweat as I think of the future. My head begins to swirl with all the decisions I will be making within these next six months. Suddenly I feel like vomiting. Too much pressure! Mom wants me to take over her flower shop, Dad wants me to become a doctor or—in his words—something that “makes me some money.” Grandma is convinced I should become a novelist—even though I’ve never liked writing. And, being the people-pleaser that I am, I don’t want to disappoint any of them; but something in my heart longs for something more. None of these things seem to be me. They are more like the “fantasy me”— the girl with straight A’s all four years of high school, class president, captain of the varsity basketball team … the whole nine yards. Hah! Too bad that is a fantasy. I am just Evelynn (“Evy” as they call me) Castillo a.k.a. the slightly shy, quirky girl that keeps to herself most of the time, and I am okay with that. It’s better than putting on a facade and acting like everything’s great when it actually stinks. Ugh … why did thinking of the future always make me think of him? Probably because I wish more than anything else in the word that he could be here—holding my hand as I am about to have a nervous breakdown. The only one that knew my true passion … the only one that thought my dream could become reality. But without him, it is all lost. Now whenever I think about that dream, I want to cry and remember how it used to be.
“Evelynn! Are you even paying attention?”
“Oh! Sorry, Hannah. What are you doing this weekend?” I quickly snapped back into the conversation I vaguely remembered.
“Never mind. Let’s get to class before Mr. Pescarino starts yelling again.”
We rush into class just as the bell rings…
Two months later.
Yep, I’m two months closer to graduation. Two months closer to the unknown. Two months closer to freedom, and I am no closer to planning the unknown than I was two months ago. Too bad I have no time to think of that now. Hannah is picking me up to go shopping.
As we drive to the mall, Hannah begins to rattle on about how she wants a new outfit for this weekend, new shirt, new shoes, blah blah blah. I choose to smile and nod every now and then so she will think I am listening, but really I am far from thinking about the small matter of prom. I am thinking about English class two days ago. Stephen decided to sit by me that day—a good thing and a bad thing. Good because he is a funny guy, very sweet. Bad because he was his best friend, and he brought back all the torturing memories; mostly all the thoughts about my dream. Stephen could see the torture I was still going through. It had been almost a year; you would think I would be over it by now!
As soon as Mr. Brooks was done with his lecture Stephen turned to me,
“How you doing Evy?”
“Fine, Stephen. Thanks for asking.” I hoped he wouldn’t notice the pain in my voice.
“No, you’re not. Dylan would hate to see you like this.”
I cringed at the sound of his name.
“I know,” I responded in a whisper.
“You know he would want the best for you. And you know what I mean by the best.”
“I know, Stephen. I just can’t bear to do it without him.” The tears began to flow as I spoke.
“Evy, it’s what you love. Do it for him. Do it because it’s what makes you happy, and you need to be happy in some way.
His words had a strange affect on me. I had tried to say them to myself a thousand times, but somehow coming from him they seemed believable. I decided I would try to do it again, and see how it went.
When I got home, I immediately rushed to my room— anxiety filling my stomach. I could do this! I had to! After a few minutes, I got the courage to walk out of my room and into the garage. My garage. Or maybe our garage. After all, he had built it.
It was easier than I thought. I very slowly walked to the last canvas I had painted. The only one that remained of the couple hundred I used to have. The only one I didn’t destroy the day he died. I hated to say the words, but there they were. He was gone, and I needed to deal with that. I quickly ran to the other side of the room to where all my watercolors and blank canvasses were. I sat down and just started painting. Whatever popped in my head, I painted it. Many colors and shapes. I was in my own little world, just me and the canvas. I was reminded of why I loved this, and I couldn’t remember why I had let it go. Maybe I could really do this!
“Evelynn Elise Castillo.”
Well, there is my name! I quickly get out of my chair and walk to the platform to receive my diploma. It is the day! It has finally come. As I walk up the steps, I turn to look at the crowd. Something catches my eye at the back of the auditorium. It is him! In my mind, I see Dylan, my cherished twin brother, cheering me on. He is just standing their clapping and smiling that huge smile I loved. And that’s when it hit me. Dylan always told me, “If you choose a career you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” And that was the day I became an artist.
– Hayle Miller