Title: Looking for the Light (Chatting with Lucinda)
Fandom: Joan of Arcadia
Summery: Embrace your inner fruitcake.
Spoilers: Only Connect
Joan doesn’t actually remember when she agreed to come to this camp. She’s fairly sure that she was tricked in some way, as her parents told her something about “art.”
She neglected to examine the fact that she has absolutely no talent in art. Or music. Or anything, really. But her parents insisted she go, and going was easier than arguing that she wasn’t actually crazy and didn’t need to be sent away like she was some deep dark secret.
But maybe she was a deep, dark secret, and that was why He talked to her in the first place. Maybe she was crazy.
According to her mother’s letters, life in Arcadia was just fabulous. Luke was planning on attending some geeky science camp for a week, but decided he would rather stay home. Kevin was fine, her father was fine, Adam came by, blah blah blah, life is perfect, thanks for being insane and leaving. We miss you.
Grace sent a postcard that looked like it had been stuck to the bottom of someone's shoe during a war. It had probably just lived in Grace's backpack for an hour. It had a grand total of two words on it and was so very Grace that Joan actually felt almost normal.
Got that right, Polk.
Her roommate was ruthlessly enthusiastic and kept trying to drag her into activities. Swimming was out, because Joan would probably get distracted and drown accidentally. Horseback was another bad idea, as the last time she rode a horse she couldn’t even get on because the horse kept stepping on her foot. Tennis involved too much energy, and dance involved too much coordination.
So she was spending a lot of time in the arts and crafts tent.
You could tell who was really crazy in the arts and crafts tent. Some people were stringing beads on string with plastic needles. The less crazy were allowed knitting needles or crochet hooks.
Joan managed to get herself tangled in the yarn and spilled a whole tray of beads, so the counselors parked her by a table of odds and ends and told her not to move.
She got crayons, and she couldn't decide if that meant she was more or less crazy than the plastic needle people.
She figured if she were insane, she wouldn’t be all that great at following directions anyway, and ended up wandering around the room. One of the counselors watched her, but did not stop her, so she figured as long as she and her crayons weren't talking to people that weren't there (but what if they really were there?), she would be left alone.
There was a floor lamp in the corner of the room. It was old and dusty and the lampshade was cracked. The shadow looked fractured. Broken. Crazy.
Joan was transfixed by that shadow, and spent an entire hour with her hands on the wall, examining how the shadow moved and how the light changed as she moved and the lampshade tilted.
She tried, but she couldn’t capture the fracture or the light on paper. So she abandoned her crayons for some markers and started scribbling on the lampshade itself.
The colors changed the light into stained glass. The fracture became a mark of beauty, uniqueness, setting off the colors around it.
She took the lampshade back to her room at the end of the day.
It was a bit big to slide underneath her shirt, so she embraced the inner fruitcake and wore it out on her head.
No one stopped her.
She carted the lampshade back and forth to the art tent for almost a week.
She added sequins and beads (only spilling some into her lap this time), highlighted the cracks with more markers and stuck a couple of feathers at the top.
She was sitting at a table, trying to figure out how to add a layer of magazine pictures when a whole stack of small lampshades thudded down beside her. A counselor dropped a book on basic wiring next to it all, and handed her some tools.
She wasn’t much for studying, but if she could make her own lamp, she wouldn’t have to bring the lampshade back here everyday to see how it looked when she turned the light on.
She taught herself how to turn anything into a lamp. As the counselor who gave the book found out when he went to go get the “Sharing Basket” they passed around at group therapy. It was purple and had nails through it in an irregular pattern. They had to use an empty flower pot instead.
Doctor Dan was very excited by her new artistic bent. Figured it meant she was “moving through her issues” or something.
She just shrugged, and handed him a lamp with a base made from a mini Eiffel Tower. The lampshade had parts of a girl’s face on it and every earring she had found in the costume trunk.
Mainly, if she was making lamps, she wasn’t looking for someone who wasn’t there. She wasn't trying to figure out if she was crazy.
She wasn't staring at little girls wearing glasses, or distracted every time she saw a brown corduroy coat.
Lamps were safer. Brighter. Steadier.
And they didn’t leave.