Little Xiu Zhang Draws a Picture


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The world was holding its breath, waiting for Xiu Zhang.

For two weeks, every child in the world had been drawing the same image over and over again. It had begun slowly, in classrooms and in homes, but soon the news and social media were brimming with similar stories. Around the globe, children everywhere had been reproducing the same image. Every single child except for one little girl in China. For some reason, Xiu Zhang still hadn’t drawn the same picture.


Chloe looked at me. "Do you think she'll do it?"

I shrugged. "Dunno. I feel bad for the poor girl. There's a lot of pressure on her."

"It's probably about seven o'clock over there. She might go to bed soon."

"Maybe. But I don’t think so.” I didn’t need to explain.

We held hands, standing amongst the crowd. There were thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of people in the downtown square. For the last few days a sense of anxiety had seemed to come over the general public, an energy that was difficult to define but palpable in its intensity. I could feel it, and so could Chloe; so could everybody. It was a cautious optimism.

All eyes were on the large monitor above the square. Normally reserved for advertisements, the last few days it and every other television worldwide had been broadcasting the same feed. It was Xiu Zhang, a girl of about six or seven. She was currently sitting in her living room, cross-legged and on the floor. Her little blue dress flowed around her, and before her were sheets of blank paper and markers.

Chloe squeezed my hand. "Why hasn't she done it yet? Every other kid has."

It was true. The image was everywhere, on front doors and on building walls. Businesses had begun to tape or hang their own copies, large and small, in storefronts and across billboards.

"I don't know. I think..." I paused, smiling. "I think because we were meant to see it."

We – along with the rest of the world – had been up all night watching Xiu. It was early morning, but the sun had begun to rise behind the skyscrapers around us. Above, Xiu picked up one of the markers. A green one. There was an excited murmur amongst the crowd. Even the military outposts which had been set up around the perimeter seemed pre-occupied with the screen.

Chloe kissed me hard. "I know it's only been a few months. Us, I mean. But with this whole thing... Well, I wanted to tell you..."

It was difficult to hear over the crowd, but I knew what she was saying. "I know. I love you too."

We held each other, and suddenly the crowd was deafening, cheers and whistles filling the dawn sky. It continued for some time, then turned into singing, and the entire while we only held each other. We held tight, and knew everything would be fine. Because Xiu had finally drawn the image.


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