Animation Eon: Chapter 3

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Malvin left the boy with his remaining relatives. Young René had absolutely no time to agonize, for both coddled and cuddled him- perhaps too closely for someone who’d just met them, and a bit too enthusiastically. If he had any need to, there would be extreme concern for his respiration. And theirs, for they didn’t stop talking.

“You’ve got no idea how proud we are, kid!” Uncle Caden ruffled his hair.

“René, René! Oh- you don’t need to tell me how Delilah’s been- I already know. Oh- but you don’t know us! Oh we have so much to tell you. We’d ask about you, but- oh, like I said- we already know. Ah- but we’re so proud of you! Such a good artist, you get that from your mother and us. So proud! Your brother could do to improve his grades a bit. Actually all three could. But- wow- honor roll since- well, to be fair, you missed a marking period, last year-”

Rather, Elvira didn’t stop talking.

René felt like an already sodden sponge that could only meekly soak up whatever was flung at him.

“C’mere, come. We’ll show you what to do. Come on.” Elvira patted her lap. Before René even looked, she yoinked him up and onto her lap.

Uncle Caden slapped the top of his computer, which was mummified with duct tape. “Ya’ ready?”

Someone in uniform similar to Malvin, except she also wore a blazer, patrolling the room, stopped to bark at Caden.

“‘Ay! Stop breakin’’ the monitors!” In her arms, she carried a few crumpled computers, flimsily threaded together by the same duct tape. She sighed and shook her head as she walked away. “Tenth time this week, Caden. I’m too tired for this.”

Caden ignored the warning, as usual. “You ever animate before?” René gave something between a shrug and a nod, and Caden just chuckled. Good thing they had an eternity to help him.

Elvira pointed to her own screen. On it was some digital art software, but none he had ever seen. In the top left corner were the words “Art2Life”. The canvas was quite large, and all the tools- perhaps forty, twenty on each side- lined the left and right of the canvas. The bottom had sliders, for sizes, opacity, correction, shade, all for brushes. As well as sliders for color, and a color selector. The top had grids, lines for perspective, circles, and other technical tools. Though it appeared incredible advanced, that’s all there was to this simple interface.

“Oh. What, uh- are we animating?” René asked, as he played with his fingers. To his surprise, he had not yet been told what they animate for. Simply that it’s an animation studio, who apparently hires everyone without interviews. “I wasn’t told.”

“Oh- he didn’t tell you?” Elvira looked to Caden, who spoke next.

“Yeah, he’s ah… Pretty much just tells ya’ you’re dead, and throws you in the ring. And by you, I mean your cor-” Elvira slapped his arm, promptly quieting him. Again.

“Tell him. Come on.”

“Well, we animate life. That’s how we keep it goin’.” René, still bewildered, said nothing, so Caden went on.

“Yeah. See here,” René leaned close to Caden’s computer as he minimized the program, opened the computer’s accessible files, then the images folder. It revealed a tab absolutely stuffed with images. The scroll bar was nearly nonexistent. Elvira leaned over too, with a smaller smile.

“Oh- show him his first birthday. Didn’t we have fun drawing that?”

“We did.” It took what felt like a year for him to scroll down.

The image he opened showed a dining room, well lit by burning candles and their warm reflection off the rotund table, melting with the wisteria walls. A man and woman sat together, two little boys beside them, smiling with a baby on one’s lap. Each of them had very light blonde hair, and dark irises, except for the man, whose eyes were blue. Next to the boys, another woman looked at the camera, with a weak smile, mildly mournful. And beside her, two more women, who sat close together and smiled at the baby.

The little baby, barely a wisp of hair on his little head, wore a striped onesie. His tiny fingers grazed the bitty cake before him, glazed pale blue and generously frosted with green, red, and yellow. On his nubby nose was a bit of frosting, too.

On top, in deeper blue icing, bubbly font spelled: “Happy Birthday, René!”

The whole scene looked exactly like a photograph.

Elvira smiled and ran her finger over everyone’s face, along the screen.

“Your brothers- so cute here. She, of course, spoke very affectionately of the two. “Did anyone ever say you and your brothers look so alike? Look at them-” Her middle and index planted on each one’s face. ‘Almost identical, here. Can only tell ‘em apart by their height, and what they’re wearing.” Laughing lightly to herself, her fingers drifted to his parents.

“You know, they never wanted more than two kids.”

“There’s your aunt Elaina.” Her finger ran over the mournful woman’s face. Her mein, now, very much matched Elaina’s, and with a whisper, she worded, “She’s the love of my life.”

Now she moved to the last two. “And- your aunts Margaret and Gilda. They’ ve been together fifteen years.” Her hand dropped, slowly, drifting to her lap.

“I always get a bit emotional, looking back at pictures.”

Caden continued to explain, as he had been before, while René sat misty-eyed.

“See, we deal with your guyses’ lives-” Caden circled a hand around the sizable screen.

“Because you’re our family. So, we’ve been drawing every scene of your lives, since we came here. Everyone,” He made a quick and sweeping hand gesture, around them. “Deals with the scenes of their close and immediate family.” With a content expression he looked to his young nephew, who stared wowed and wide-eyed. Caden patted him on the back.

“ C’mon. Let’s get ye’ started, bud.”