“What are you doing?” asked Gracie.
”I’m trying out the new pen I got for Christmas.”
“That’s Pearl, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s a drippy and messy pen sometimes. Sort of the way Pearl can be. Even though it’s not perfect all of the time, it still makes beautiful lines. You just have to know how to look at them.”
“Messy but beautiful, just like with Pearl,” Gracie said with delight. “But who are the baby chicks? We don’t have any baby chicks here any more.”
“I know. Pearl wants to be a Momma Hen more than just about anything these days. She misses having Blanche at her side. She would like to have some baby chicks that look like her. So I made this drawing.”
“It’s like you’ve said before. Drawing lets you do things you would never be able to do any other way.”
“And that is how you and I will dance in the streets of Paris even if we never get to travel there together. But that is many drawings from now. I still would like to really go to Paris with you, Gracie.”
“Is there a reason why you did this drawing without any bright and pretty color? Besides Pearl being mostly white, I mean.”
“You and I both love pictures. And our readers love pictures too. But books with pictures in color are very expensive to print. So all of our books with color have to be short. No more than sixty-four pages. But it’s going to take more than sixty-four pages to tell some of the stories we want to tell.”
“So these books with black-and-white pictures mean more adventures?”
“Even though you didn’t stay inside the lines all of the time?”
“For me it’s harder to go outside of the lines than to stay inside the lines.”
Gracie laughed, and we smiled together. It didn’t make much sense to either of us, but it didn’t matter.
“What kind of more adventures?” she asked.
“Adventures like Amelia flying to the moon and back. Adventures like you dancing at the Paris Opera Ballet. Adventures like maybe even Pearl having her own little family.”
“And some baby chicks wearing little tutus would be very nice. Can you draw that too?”
She nudged me with her head to make sure I was listening.
“That would make both Pearl and you happy, wouldn’t it? Yes, I can do that. But it will all take some time. A drawing that shows how much I love you takes time to get just right.”
“We can wait.”
“You know, Gracie, this really is A Most Wondrous Place just like you have always said.”