Meghan's Crayons

A Young Autistic Girl Changes the World with Her Crayons

Meghan’s Crayons

I’ve had the privilege, over the years, to have met some incredibly talented people who are autistic. Not only do they exhibit areas of incredible talent, but I always appreciate their sincerity and their stance for what they believe in. I feel that my life has been enriched by these relationships and by being able to peek at what the human brain is capable of.

This story kept calling me. I knew I wanted to write it and I hesitated for quite awhile. I knew that as soon as I started it would nag me every possible moment until it was completed. I was right. There was a ton of research poured into this story and I lost a lot of sleep while writing it. The last paragraph was written when I arrived early for a lunch party with a dear visiting friend. “Where’s Tim? Oh, he’s in the living room, madly typing on his laptop.”

I dedicate this to my two dear friends who gave me the inspiration to write this story. Thank you, Asia and Roman.

***

“Meghan is my middle name.” The petite girl with the pixie black hair cut stated while staring up at the skylight window. She pointed at the sunbeam with her right index finger, tracing its edges down the wall and across the floor. Twirling strands of her hair with her left hand, she shifted in her wheelchair till her face glowed under the sunlight. Closing her eyes from the brightness, she smiled and started rocking side to side in her chair, as if a bubbly song played in her head.

“How long have you been here, Lindy?” Dr. Carpenter asked while flipping her computer tablet stylus through her fingers. She leaned back a little in her plush brown leather chair, making the leather squeak slightly. Looking over toward a one-way mirror in the wall, she raised her eyebrows, showing the camera and observers on the other side a confirmation of what she had told them all earlier. “I hope you’re all patient cause this is going to take some time.”

Lindy stopped rocking for a few seconds then continued while answering, “One twenty-nine by pie by pie.”

Two men watched the young girl and her interviewer from the other side of the mirror. “What does that mean, Dr. Lee? By pie, by pie?” The clean cut man in a black suit asked. A red and white sticker badge above his left suit pocket showed a handwritten ‘Dr. Jay Anderson’ in thick black marker ink. He directed his question toward a bald man with a long and gray scraggly beard, wearing a white lab coat, standing next to him.

“It’s how she answers anything numerical. It took us awhile to figure it out. We thought she was talking about food, but it’s mathematical pi. Three point one four.” He paused, watching Lindy and the doctor through the mirror, then continued. “It’s 129 times pi, times pi. That comes to one thousand two hundred and seventy-five days. That’s how long she has lived here with us.”

“Three and a half years?” Jay asked.

“Yes,” Dr. Lee responded. “She came here when she was eight. Her mother abandoned her when she was two. Social Services placed her in several foster homes over the years. When the last foster parents gave up, someone at Lindy’s school decided to contact NAGC to have her tested.”

“NAGC?”

“National Association for Gifted Children,” Dr. Lee answered while running his fingers through the bottom of his beard.

“So, you called me because of my math and because she does calculations with pi?”

“Only partly, Dr. Anderson. Your math and your art. I saw your exhibit in Boston while you were at MIT.”

“Wow. That was like 12 years ago,” he replied with a smirk. “That was my last showing. My assignment at JPL doesn’t give me any more time for it. But,” he turned away from watching Lindy and gazed at Dr. Lee. “What does my art have to do with this?”

“Come. I’ll show you.”

—-

Dr. Jay Anderson was speechless. He stood in the middle of Lindy’s bedroom. Hundreds of stubby crayons and discarded crayon paper littered the floor, bed tables, several chairs, and the entrance to her bathroom. The texture of the debris distracted him as he scooted several crayon stubs away from his feet, not wanting to crush any against the dark parquet wood.

“What the…” Jay stopped mid-sentence when he looked up from the floor to the walls of the room. From floor to ceiling, the walls were completely covered with highly detailed, but abstract drawings. “Wow,” was all he could express as he gazed up at the ceiling, which was also thoroughly covered. He stood directly under the ceiling light fixture and gazed curiously at a small earth globe dangling under it. Slowly he spun around, noticing that the light switches and electrical outlets had also been utilized as her canvas.

Dr. Lee remained standing in the entrance, silently observing Jay’s response to the incredible art of an 11-year-old, highly autistic girl.

“Did she do all this?” Jay asked while slowly rotating, taking in the intricate details on every surface of the room.

“Yes. She started several years ago, after a field trip to Griffith Observatory.” Dr. Lee walked to a wall and ran one hand gently across the texture of the drawings. “We called you because you’re an artist, a mathematician, and an astrophysicist. We’re assuming there’s some kind of connection with astronomy, seeing how she insisted on hanging the globe knick-knack under the light fixture, and her choice of books,” he added while pointing to Lindy’s bedside table.

Jay walked over to the table and examined the cover of a book on top of a small stack. ‘Fundamentals of Astrophysics, by Doctor Choudhuri’ sat on top. The corners were worn from use. There were no crayon marks on the books. “She respects these books,” he stated reflectively. “I have a copy of this one on the corner of my desk.”

“Take a look at the next one.” Dr. Lee added.

Jay moved the first book off the stack and instantly recognized the next cover. He let out a chuckle and stated, “My latest book. ‘Quantum Entanglement’s Applications for Communications.’” He picked it up and placed the first book back on the stack. Opening the cover Jay stopped at the first page. “I signed this one?” He looked up at Dr. Lee with a puzzled look.

Dr. Lee nodded his head. “Lindy and I, with a few of my colleagues, attended your presentation at CIT. My assistant stood in line for over an hour to get that signature. Lindy reads through it at least once a month, though her first time through, it took several months and a lot of math. She wrote a bunch of the calculations out, studied them for hours, got a little excited, and wrote out more. Like she had discovered something.”

“Excited?”

Dr. Lee chuckled. “Yeah. She claps. The more excited she gets, the longer she claps. It’s a little over my head though. I’m not clear on what this whole quantum entanglement means.”

“Ah,” Jay responded, thumbing through the book. “Basically, via the use of entangled photons, or photons that have become related to each other, when we change the condition of the photons here, a related set of photons in England instantly change, and it happens faster than the speed of light.” He glanced at the doctor to see if this was getting through to him. “I tell people it’s like when you sneeze here in California and instantly your brother in England sneezes too.” He paused again to let it all sink in. “It means we can communicate across long distances in an instant, regardless of the distance. But this,” he stated while tapping on the book. “These are new formulas written by Lindy? That’s interesting. I wrote a lot of theories and unsolved equations in this.” He paused, removed his glasses, and placed one stem in his mouth. While gazing at the books on the table, he put his glasses back on. “Did anyone document the math she wrote in here?”

“We were preparing to and decided to just call you in. We didn’t know she would cover it up?”

“What? Cover it up? The formulas in the book? They’re not covered up. I’m confused. What is covered up?”

Dr. Lee pointed at one of the walls. “There’s more math under the art.”

Jay walked over to the wall and felt the texture of the thick crayon strokes. He scanned for any indication of writing under the drawings. Stepping back, he scanned the entire wall, and let out a sigh.

“I can’t work with erased math.” He shook his head and frowned. “Is there anything else?”

Dr. Lee stepped over to Jay, took the book from his hands, and turned the pages to the back. He pointed to the notes and calculations Lindy had written in the back of the book.

Jay grabbed the book back and studied the notes. “She noted grouping of photons for communications!” He paused and intently studied more notes and math. “We’ve just recently…” he stopped and ran a finger over one of Lindy’s equations. He flipped through the note pages in the back of the book. “Wow,” he stated and looked up at Dr. Lee.

“Keep going,” Dr. Lee prompted. “The last page is the clincher,” he added with a smirk.

Jay looked through more of the note pages. “More quantum equations,” he mumbled and skipped to the very last page. “What is this?” He looked up at Dr. Lee and pointed at Lindy’s writing on the last page and the inside cover.

“Check out the next book.” Dr. Lee nodded his head toward the table.

Jay looked puzzled and turned toward the table. He paused and seemed stunned when he saw the next book. He slowly lifted it, careful to not disturb the hundreds of sticky notes and pieces of torn papers sticking out of its pages. “Burnham’s Celestial Handbook.”

Dr. Lee smiled and added, “She doesn’t read it anymore, though she does like to tap on it now and then, while she’s thinking, and staring up at her drawings.” He looked up and waved his hand at the ceiling.

Jay gazed back up at the ceiling then asked, “Why doesn’t she read it anymore?”

“She has it memorized,” Dr. Lee stated in a slower pace and lower tone, knowing the impact it would have.

Jay widened his eyes, shook his head, and asked, “How soon can I start?”

“I’ll introduce you this afternoon. I’m sure she’ll remember you from the presentation. Though, she might not acknowledge it. She’s pretty shy when it comes to new people and changes in her normal routines.” The doctor let out a sigh and continued. “Time is of the essence, Dr. Anderson. She has the ability to contribute, to leave her mark upon us, upon the world, but it has to be now.” He gazed at the walls, the ceiling, raised a hand as if to give focus to the entirety of the drawings, then added. “She only has about a year to live. It’s Batten Disease.”

—-

“Thank you for letting me visit you, Lindy,” Jay stated. He shifted in his chair and rested one foot on top of a knee. Per instructions from Dr. Lee, he didn’t stare directly at her, and he pretended to gaze around the room while he spoke. “You’re a very good artist.”

Lindy focused her full attention on a brand new box of crayons sitting on her bedside table. She wheeled over to the table, opened the lid of the box, and slowly tapped every single crayon with her finger as if to count it. Looking up from the box toward the ceiling, she tilted her head and slowly swayed side to side.

Jay watched her peripherally, watching for any indication of a connection with him. Dr. Lee had said it would take time. She would have to get used to having him around. He was hoping his name on one of her favorite books would spark something inside, and establish a common ground for discussion.

Lindy placed the box of crayons in her lap and wheeled to a corner of the room where a collapsible pole stood. She grabbed the pole and placed a crayon into the end. She tightened a turnable grip around the crayon, ripped some of the paper off the crayon, and discarded the paper, letting it fall to the floor.

Jay couldn’t help but utter a silent “wow” to himself as he watched Lindy wheel to the middle of the room, extend the pole to full length, and use it to make elaborate crayon strokes onto the ceiling. Her strokes appeared to be random, yet her intensity showed they were planned, and with purpose. Each stroke blended with the art already there. Abstract, with a depth which gave the appearance of being able to reach into the thickness of the drawing. The colors blended gracefully with no sharp or discernible edges.

Hours passed by as if they were minutes as Jay found himself being pulled into the immensity of the ceiling art. Each stroke of color, each change to a new crayon, and the crushing of ignored scraps of crayon paper under the wheels of Lindy’s electric chair, with the hum of the motors, and the slight clicking of the chair’s joystick gripped by Lindy’s left elbow. It all created a mesmerizing dance performed by Lindy as she painted with her crayons.

A tray of sandwiches and tea was brought in but sat untouched until the box of crayons was completely empty. The crayons had become a part of the mystical depth of the ceiling. Discarded crayon stubs and paper lay on the floor of the room like the remnants of a confetti parade.

Lindy sat quietly by her bedside table, reached for a sandwich, and slowly rocked side to side as she ate and gazed at the ceiling. After several bites, she rolled her head slightly with a slight side glance toward Jay. “Meghan is my middle name,” she stated as if to introduce herself to the audience at the conclusion of her performance.

Jay smiled and nodded slightly at Lindy's acknowledgment of his existence. Instead of giving in to his desire to gaze at Lindy, now that they were on speaking terms, he forced his focus to the drawings on the ceiling. He couldn’t make sense of the abstractness of it all, and yet, he marveled at the depth, thinking he could get pulled into the art itself.

Lindy finished her sandwich and sat quietly for the rest of the day, slowly rocking, and studying her work. Possibly plotting out her next box of crayons.

—-

The hours of Jay’s observations turned into days, and the days turned into weeks. At the end of the month, after watching Lindy’s daily routine, all he had gotten from her was a disclosure of her middle name during lunch, and watch her blow through a box of crayons every day. Each day he attempted to add a comment of praise for her art, an admiration for her technique, and sometimes a simple question. 

“What’s your favorite color? Are you okay with me being here? Do you like music? Are there any stories you like to read?” He figured these questions might help her to come out of her shell a bit and maybe interact a little more, but after almost five weeks, nothing had changed.

Each afternoon, the facility staff would come and get Lindy, take her to therapy, medical checkups, and sometimes a recreational field trip to a park or another scientific discussion at one of the local universities. Jay would take advantage of this time to sit in her room, study the drawings, dictate his notes into his computer, try to make some sense of what Lindy was doing, and hoping for insight into the math she produced.

Today was no different, aside from the frustration he was feeling. He closed the lid of his laptop computer, took a deep breath, and chewed on a stem of his glasses while gazing about the room. “What am I missing?” He softly asked himself. “She knows the math,” he mumbled. “The math,” he repeated, stood, and retrieved his book from her table. He rapidly thumbed through it till he reached the theoretical equations reference. It was where he put the unsolved math, to be directed via footnotes from other sections of the book.

“Oh, my…” Jay slowly sat down on Lindy’s bed and slid his finger along the pen scribblings on every white space of the pages. There were 17 pages in this section and each one had equations scribbled into the margins, the spaces around pictures, and even between some of the lines of printed formulas. Some of the printed formulas had been crossed out and inked arrows pointed to other equations in the margins. He slid his finger along one of the equations and traced an arrow to Lindy’s math.

He quickly grabbed his cell phone and selected a number. He listened for a few seconds and waited for a beep. “Dr. Lee. We have a breakthrough. I need a large whiteboard on wheels and markers, as soon as possible.” He hung up the call without a ‘goodbye’ and dove into a closer examination of the handwritten equations.

—-

Dr. Lee accompanied Lindy as she rolled into her room after her extended breakfast in the courtyard, which was intentionally delayed to give Jay time to prepare for her arrival.

She paused when she caught sight of the large whiteboard at the opposite end of her room. Numerous equations filled the left half of the board. A tray of markers and an eraser were below the board, which had been lowered enough to allow her to reach it from her wheelchair. Jay was in his usual chair, quietly observing, and not directly looking at her. A barely perceivable grin and a glint in his eyes made Dr. Lee chuckle.

“What?” Jay quietly responded.

Lindy slowly rolled toward the board, stopping several feet away from it, and gazed intently at the equations. She rolled her head and slightly rocked side to side, shifting her gaze between the board and her drawings on the walls. A short squeal of glee startled Jay and Dr. Lee. She applauded rapidly, no doubt excited with this new arrangement. Jay and Dr. Lee made eye contact and nodded in recognition of the major breakthrough.

She stopped applauding, rolled forward, and grabbed a purple marker. Immediately she drew a line through a portion of an equation, drew an arrow below it, and started scribbling a new equation. Writing as fast as she could, she grunted, squealed, and mumbled to herself, possibly working out the equations.

Jay silently mouthed “What?” as he tried to grasp the new math he was seeing.

“Make sure you grab a picture of that when she’s done,” Dr. Lee stated as he turned and left.

Jay nodded, raised his smartphone, and started recording.

After several hours of equations and mumbling, Lindy stopped writing, placed a cap on the red marker she was currently holding and placed it in the tray below the board. She rolled back a few feet and slowly rocked side to side while pondering the full board of equations, arrows, circles, and strike out lines.

Jay’s phone battery had died long before she had finished. He remained in his chair, leaning forward, quietly mouthing the equations to himself, interspersed with long pauses as he worked out the math in his head. He looked puzzled at one of the equations. “Um…”

Lindy interrupted. “It’s variable. Variable, not finite,” she stated.

Jay shook his head. More from confusion rather than disagreeing. “How can that be variable?”

“It’s variable, not finite,” she stated. “Variable. Variable light controls variable spin. Spin. Spin is variable.” She clapped her hands a couple times, no doubt happy about teaching the book writer something about his own math.

“Oh, my,” Jay gasped and leaned back in his chair.

“Meghan good.” She clapped a few more times. “Meghan’s my middle name.”

“Yes,” Jay responded. “Meghan is good.”

—-

Jay and Dr. Lee watched through the glass as two ICU nurses tended to Lindy. Multiple sensors attached to her head led to monitoring equipment next to her bed, a tube attached to her nose fed oxygen from an adapter in the wall, a nasogastric tube to her nose provided nourishment, and another dripped fluids via a catheter in her arm.

“This is significant, Dr. Lee.” Jay ran one hand through his hair. “She was fine last night. She spoke to me. Explained her equation. She even clapped. I think she enjoyed showing me where my math was wrong.”

“I know. It is frustrating, Doctor, but she’s spent! Her seizure this morning was the most severe one yet. We’re not sure what the full impact will be until she wakes up.”

They watched the nurses as they checked Lindy’s monitors and made sure she was comfortable. One of them held her hand for a few minutes and silently mouthed “It’s okay Lindy.”

Jay crossed his arms, frowned, and shook his head.

—-

Days passed while Lindy slept in ICU. Jay hated the waiting, opting instead to pass the time sitting in her room, holding the book he had signed for her, and slowly thumbing through each page, examining the scribbled equations in the margins.

Based on what she had taught him, he wrote new math on the whiteboard, re-working his theories with her own equations. “Of course,” he stated while stepping back away from the board. He snapped a picture of the board with his phone and sent it to his associates at JPL. He followed it up with a phone call.

He didn’t even say hello. “Did you get it?” Waiting for the answer, he stepped up to the board and wrote some more equations. “Yes, that’s correct. She says the rotation of the photons can be variable, depending on the intensity of the laser. We’ve only been looking for the occurrence and direction of the spin, not the rate of the spin, and when the rate of the spin has been changed, it changes which set of photons we are communicating with. We can change which photons in the universe we want to get messages from.”

As more days passed while Lindy slept, Jay continued to pour over each scribble, note, and equation. A folding table became his desk in the middle of Lindy’s bedroom. Her copy of his book laid open to the left of his laptop computer. Multiple printed out photos of Lindy’s equations were taped to one side of the whiteboard and Jay’s dry marker notes surrounded the pages, with lines and arrows pointing out how some photos were related to others, along with his notes on the right side of the whiteboard.

“I’m missing something,” he stated to himself while thumbing back and forth between a couple pages in the back of Lindy’s book. “These are quantum equations and different spin rates of grouped photons.” Turning a page, he mumbled, “these are common celestial coordinates.” His own sticky notes listed Ceres, M31, Alpha Centauri, Tau Ceti, and many others.

He grabbed his own personal copy of his book out of his wheeled travel bag, set it to the right of his laptop, and turned to the same pages in the back of the book. These had his own notes from different presentations and readings he had given over the past few years. He counted the note pages in the back of his book. There were no page numbers on these, designed to be blank note pages for anyone who bought his book. “I told the publisher I wanted 12 blank pages,” he mumbled to himself.

He counted the pages in his book. “Twelve!’ Grabbing Lindy’s book, he placed it on top of his own and flipped through the pack pages. One through ten, he counted them. “Ten?” He counted again. “Ten.” Once again, he slowly turned each page, this time sliding a fingertip along the edge of each page, feeling its thickness. The next to the last page felt slightly thicker. He gave it a small twist between his thumb and index finger. The pages slid slightly but didn’t separate. Gently inserting a fingernail into a tiny separation between the two pages, he slowly slid his finger along the edge of the pages. Finding the area of stickiness, Jay carefully pulled the two pages apart, slow enough to prevent tearing. “Wow,” he stated while slowly spreading the pages. He sniffed a faded stain on the top left. “Strawberry jam,” he chuckled while pulling out his smartphone. He snapped a couple pictures of the pages and then sent the best ones to his colleagues at JPL.

Dr. Lee and several nurses stood behind Jay as he sat next to Lindy. He gently lifted her left hand and he rubbed it between his. Her breathing was slow and shallow, with assistance from the medical ventilator. Jay grimaced each time the machine clicked followed by a rush of oxygen-rich air being pumped into her lungs.

Dr. Lee placed one hand on Jay’s shoulder. “I’m sorry Dr. Anderson.” He paused with a heavy sigh. “Her body is tired from the fight with the Batten disease. She suffered another seizure yesterday and we had to defib and then ventilate. It took over six minutes to get her back. But,” he paused and choked back the next few words. “We’ve lost her. All, all brain function has ceased.”

One of the nurses stifled back tears, covered her mouth, and left the room. Jay stood up, leaned over Lindy, and kissed her on the forehead. He whispered into her ear, “It’s okay Lindy. I’ll figure it out. Your math will change the universe.” He stepped back and turned to Dr. Lee and the remaining nurse. “Meghan is her middle name,” he stated and stepped out of the room.

Jay sat motionless in the middle of Lindy’s bedroom with his body slumped low in his chair, and his head looking straight up. “Why the globe?” he mumbled to himself while staring at the small foam Earth globe she had picked up at the Observatory gift shop.

“Would you like to lie down Dr. Anderson?” Dr. Lee asked as he stepped into the room.

“Why the globe?” Jay asked.

Dr. Lee looked up at the globe and answered, “She loved astronomy. Anyone who can memorize a book of star charts has a serious addiction.”

“Nope,” Jay added. “I don’t buy it. She was entirely focused on everything she did. She wouldn’t want it for just a decoration. It serves a purpose.” He sat up and spun his chair around slowly while studying the walls. “Do you have your penlight with you?”

Dr. Lee pulled it from the pocket of his lab coat and handed it to Jay.

“Excellent,” Jay responded. “Can you turn the lights off please?”

Dr.. Lee stepped over to the switch and flipped it off.

Jay clicked on the penlight and spun his chair around slowly again, shining the light toward the walls. He stopped suddenly. “There!” he stated while standing up and walking to the wall. “A spot of wall.” He kept the light on a very tiny spot on the wall where there were no crayon marks and the paint of the wall could be seen. “This is white paint,” Jay added. “Do you have any ultraviolet light devices? For sanitizing?”

Dr. Lee didn’t even answer as he quickly stepped out of the room. Jay searched the wall intently for any other spots showing through. He had found several more by the time Dr. Lee returned with a small ultraviolet bar lamp and an extension cord. Flipping on the room lights, Dr. Lee plugged in the cord, handed the lamp to Jay, showed him the switch, and walked over to close the room door and turn the lights off.

“Ready?” Dr. Lee asked.

Jay flipped on the lamp and nodded.

Dr. Lee turned off the lights and chuckled at the glow of Jay’s white shirt.

“Come here doctor,” Jay stated seriously. He placed a hand over the lamp and waited for Dr. Lee. Once they stood together he added, “Now close your eyes for a few minutes and let them adjust to the darkness.”

They both stood quietly while Jay whispered the seconds by tens as he counted them off in his head. “Ten, twenty, … one twenty, now.”

“Wow,” was all Dr. Lee could utter.

“All this time I had no idea what she was doing,” Jay stated as they both slowly turned around in the center of the room and took in the immensity of what they were seeing.

Tens of thousands of tiny white dots and pinpoints within the walls could be seen from the glow of the ultraviolet light. A stellar map of stars, constellations, and the Milky Way galaxy enveloped them in the spatial darkness of Lindy’s room.

“It’s all accurate,” Jay stated. “In relation to the globe of the Earth. She wasn’t just drawing art. She was creating a map of our local universe. This is major. I’m going to need a few more months here Doctor.”

“Of course,” Dr. Lee responded. “I’ll get the staff to remove furnishings. But, after I stay here a little while,” he added, as a tear fell from one eye.

A red glow from an astronomy lamp illuminated the notes, books, and photos covering the folding table in the middle of Lindy’s bedroom. All other furnishings had been removed, leaving all four walls fully exposed to the ultraviolet lamp mounted on an extended tripod next to the table. Hundreds of thin white threads extended from the small foam Earth globe to pins with note flags at different celestial bodies in the walls. Jay appreciated the view of the threads and the pins since they helped him perceive where the walls were. Prior to getting the pins mounted, he had fallen a couple times from being disoriented by the spatial depth of Lindy’s star map.

An assistant, intentionally dressed in black, with thin white armbands, carefully worked along the walls, taking measurements between the map pins, and recited the numbers to Jay. He typed the measurements into his laptop and would then read back the figures and the calculated astronomical distances displayed on his red filtered laptop screen.

Someone knocked on the door and Jay responded with a “Come in, but be careful of the threads.”

The door opened and a red glow from the replaced hallway lights revealed the shadow of Dr. Lee as he entered the room. He stopped just inside the door and waited for it to close behind him. “How’s the progress?” he asked while dodging some of the white threads, taking a seat next to Jay, and placing a two fresh cardboard cups of coffee on the table.

“We’re just about done with documenting. This is the last set of threads for identifying the scale of Lindy’s measurements.” Jay answered with enthusiasm tinged with exhaustion.

“It has been a long 14 months since Lindy left us.” Dr. Lee stated. “Are you sure have everything she left for us?”

Jay grabbed one of the cups and took a sip before responding. “She hasn’t left us, Doctor. We’re going to be hearing from her for a very, long time. But, to answer your question, yes. I think this is it.” He paused, looked up at the image of the Milky Way stretching across the ceiling. “Are you going to be comfortable with leaving this facility?”

“I will miss it,” Dr. Lee answered. “I’ll be sure to visit, once it has been opened to the public.” He paused reflectively. “I accepted the President’s appointment as Director of the Cure for Batten Foundation.”

“I figured you would,” Jay nodded appreciatively. “And I’m sure you’ll figure it out. I’ll be giving you plug at the President’s press conference next week.”

“No need to, Jay. Use the time to give all the credit to Lindy.” He paused, took a deep breath, and sighed heavily. “Meghan’s crayons has changed the world.”

The President of the United States approached the lectern. The sounds of camera shutters, rustling notepads, and reporters whispering to their live feeds permeated the room as he started to speak.

“Normally, I stand at this microphone, to address the people of the United States. Today, I stand here to address not only the world but the universe.”

Gasps and murmurs in the room grew. The President raised his hands and signaled for quiet. “What I’m about to announce will change our world forever. In fact, it has already. And to signify the importance of this, many of the world’s leaders are tied into this conference, including President Jinping of China, President Putin of Russia, UK Prime Minister May, and many others who I would like to name, but time is of the essence.” He paused and waited for quiet. “To my right, is a man you’ve never met before.” He gestured to his right. “This is Doctor Jay Anderson, formerly with the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, who is now the newly appointed Director of Interstellar Communications.” He waited for the questioning whispers and undertone conversations to die down. “Since much of what needs to be presented is over my head, I present to you, Dr. Anderson.”

Jay walked over to the President, shook his hand, received a shoulder slap, and then stepped up to the microphone. “Two years ago, I had the pleasure of being introduced to a highly autistic, 11-year-old girl, Lindy Meghan Lewis, who knew more about math, astrophysics, and quantum entanglement, than I could ever know. She liked to remind me on a regular basis that ‘Meghan is her middle name.’

“Sadly, she has left us as a victim of Batten Disease. However, it doesn’t mean she no longer speaks to us. Without getting too technical for the general public, she left behind a wealth of scientific discovery which far surpassed anything we have ever come across before. Her grasp of astrophysics and quantum entanglement has provided us with a method of communicating instantaneously with other intelligent life throughout the universe.”

The roar of gasps, comments, discussions, and camera shutters erupted to a noise piercing level. The President stepped to the mic and interrupted. “Please, please, everyone. Let’s have some quiet and let Dr. Anderson finish his statement.

Jay held his composure and waited for the room to become quieter. “Thank you, Mr. President.” He paused then continued. “The science of quantum entanglement provides us with the ability to instantly change how related photons act regardless of distance. For example: Imagine you sneeze and your cousin in London sneezes at the exact same time.” A few reporters chuckled and stopped short from the overwhelming mood of seriousness.

Jay continued. “We know we can change the status of a group of photons in England by firing a laser at a group of photons in Seattle, regardless of the distance, and exceeding the speed of light. Because of Lindy’s efforts, we learned how to listen for life in the universe by watching for changes in photons, and she taught us how to manipulate the photons to send our own communications out, and in which direction. Thanks to Lindy, we established the first contact with intelligent life last month.”

Everyone in the room was stunned. Only the sound of camera shutters could be heard while they waited for him to continue.

“As far as we can tell from the immense stellar map Lindy left for us, we have determined our first contact was with the star system Vega. We detected a constant pattern of photon changes followed by a single set of numbers ranging from one to thirty-seven, followed by a fourteen-minute pause. It was obvious they were telling us how to use our own alphabet, the numbers zero through nine, and a blank space. It took us several days of analysis to actually determine the significance.” He paused again to wait for the room to quiet down.

“We returned the same sequence to them during one of the fourteen-minute pauses. The next pattern response we received stated the following:” He paused and made sure he had everyone’s attention. “We hear you. We are peace. We help. Next will be one your solar.” The room erupted into noise again until the President signaled for everyone to get quiet.

Jay continued. “This means that one year from last month, they will communicate with us again. We have received no other communications since then. The photons are silent.” He paused and took in the astonished looks, open mouths, and questioning expressions. “I will now entertain your questions.”

Everyone in the room raised their hands at the same time while shouting ‘Doctor Anderson’.

Jay pointed at one of the reporters in the audience. “The reporter in the blue dress.”

The reporter stood then asked, “You said Lindy left you a stellar map. Can we see it?”

Jay responded, “I’m very happy you asked that. Lindy covered all of the walls and the ceiling of her bedroom with crayon art. It took me months to figure out what she was doing. That room will be part of the soon to be opened Center for the Study of Interstellar Communications. The exhibit will be called, “Meghan’s Crayons.” He paused and focused on the fond memories he had of spending time talking and examining her art. Before he called on the next reporter he added, “That is where she touched my very soul and if you see it in person, she will touch yours as well. Next question?”

Copyright © 2017, Timothy Trimble

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Meghan's Crayons