Tornadoes of Chaos

Author | Victoria Siu

Four feet above my bed-stand, purple and blue tacks pin a collaged picture against the bedroom wall. Ruffled cardboard circles and rectangles arrange themselves on the yellow background, hot glue-gunned edge to edge. A hasty array of black, blue, and red ink prints purposefully stamp themselves among the expanse of yellow, like blizzard snow obstructing the visual field. Or like a girl flicking her eyes over the boy’s shoulder then back to the yellow piece of paper in front of her. She mimics his art work, clumsily. 

“Tornadoes of chaos!” he exclaims, pounding his paper into the table with rubber stamps.

“Tornadoes of chaos!” she echoes, sabotaging the beginnings of a perfectly patterned stamp printing.  

Geometric shapes of cardboard on her paper configure themselves into the same boy sitting next to a square piano.  Four thin finger-like strips protrude from a rather blocky arm and outstretch toward the carefully cut black and white keys. Both hands sprawl onto the keyboard. 

She remembers the day his hands touched the grand piano in the music teacher’s room—he was painting sound. Somehow the principal and his staff ended up listening by the classroom doorway. The boy’s notes grew from a spritely dance of the piano keys into a whirling dervish. Lost in enchantment, she cuts out a pair of eyes and a smile from construction paper to paste on his face. Blue lines pop out from the red circle of a head. She stamps musical notes and fingerprints throughout the already crowded background as a finishing touch.

The cardboard musician straightens his fat rectangular back against a piano stool and faithfully plays a jumbled melody. A condensed mass of notes, harps, sailboats, and other hidden prints swell and roil into the murmuration of ink. 

She holds the musician and the tornado of chaos up to the art room’s lighting. The collaged scene, she decides, is perfect, and she glues the yellow on top of a larger blue sheet of paper for the finishing border. She grabs a dull No. 2 from the table and etches “Victoria Siu, Third Grade” on the top right hand corner before placing her masterpiece in the finished pile with a grin, though the art teacher heaves a sigh as she hangs the picture beside everyone else’s finished products. 

Some musicians had square complexions. Others were more circular humanoids. There were drummers, guitarists, flautists, and pianists.  But everyone in the class had a neatly stamped background with very few smears and overlap—except for the dual tornadoes of chaos. 

The girl who printed stamps in straight lines stares at her sparked spontaneity. The black ink fused boy with piano, but what if she went too far? Did the tornadoes ruin the portrait? The cardboard musician wonders what the boy thinks of imitations and whether his paper existence was created out of childish idiocy or something more. The girl wants to wonder along with the musician now hung on the classroom wall. Would the boy have a pair of eyes and smile when he saw her collage? He said nothing and soon melted away into another distant memory, because tornadoes are impulsive and ephemeral, like juvenile crushes and the capricious remnants of a child’s mind.

But somehow the collage found its way onto my bedroom wall, a few years later.


About the Author | Victoria Siu is a current sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Biological Basis of Behavior and minoring in Creative Writing. As a former Lab Assistant in Abramson Research Center, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Siu hopes to interweave her passion in research with her passion for writing. She is currently the Design Editor for Penn’s research journal, Synapse. Previously she was the Editor in Chief of her high school Columbia Scholastic Press Association Crown Award winning literary magazine, Itinerary. Siu has also organized and taught creative writing workshop at Nathan Adams Elementary in Dallas, TX. Her writing has also been recognized by Creative Communications as a semifinalist in their summer contest edition. Siu is an avid fan of Hayao Miyazaki and loves listening to Michael Jackson.