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Clifford Cardinal, "Drawing with Chalk"

In honour of National Aboriginal Day on June 21, we at Canada Writes are presenting our own contribution to the CBC's groundbreaking 8th Fire project: "The Way Forward," an original series by some of the country's leading and emerging Aboriginal writers.

Here, actor and writer Clifford Cardinal imagines a searing new fable for the future. 


Drawing with Chalk
By Clifford Cardinal

A little girl sits in front of her house drawing on the sidewalk with big blocks of chalk. She’s drawing her world. She draws her house and her front yard. She draws her family standing out front holding hands. She draws all afternoon, adding more and more detail: her big brother wears his favourite red shirt, her mom has bright yellow hair, the house has a crack above the door. She draws some of the neighbours’ houses too, the playground by the school, the stream that runs behind the house. 

The little girl draws until the chalk gets nubby in her fingers and the sun goes down and the streetlights come on. She draws until her mother comes to the door in a bathrobe, hair in curlers and yells: “Get inside before you get kidnapped and raped to death!”

The little girl goes in and goes to bed and her mom goes to work and above them, above the town, rain clouds build. In the middle of the night it rains on the little girl’s drawing. Splat, splat, splat, and the red in her big brother’s shirt bleeds like he’s been stabbed. Splat, splat, splat, and mom’s blonde hair runs into the street like a trail of piss, her head left bald, like a cancer victim. Splat, splat, splat and the crack above the door gets wider and splat, splat, splat, pretty soon the whole house falls apart. 

The rain starts to pour. All the little girls’ work is soon washed away. Her family is gone. The neighbours too, and so is the stream, just purple and yellow and blue swirls in a storm drain.
In the morning the little girl comes out and sees what’s happened and she’s angry. She’s angry because she has to wait until the sidewalk dries before she can start drawing her world again.

In the future it rains.

Be the little girl.


Cliff Cardinal is a writer, actor and musician. His acting credits include Tales Of An Urban Indian with Green Thumb Theatre, The Saskatchewan Rebellion with VideoCabaret and Three Little Birds with Workshop West Theatre, in which he performed alongside his mother, Tantoo Cardinal. Cardinal is currently writing a follow-up to his award-winning first play, Stitch.

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