Tiger was a very shy boy. He always felt like he was alone, spending a lot of time sitting underneath the shade of the tree in his backyard. He was too scared of talking to people but, if he were to be honest, he wished he had a friend to talk to.
In his free time, Tiger really liked art, especially drawing. He did not think he was very good at it, but he really wanted to learn. Yet, every time he tried, he would get angry and upset.
“I’ll never be good at art at this rate,” he said.
On one Tuesday morning, Tiger decided that he wanted to practice faces. After each face he drew, however, he got more and more angry. He would crush the paper in his paws before throwing them off his desk or in the trash can.
After an hour of trying, Tiger pushed his latest attempt away from him in frustration, but also with sadness. “I can’t ask anyone in my class to help me draw and I’m too scared to ask my teacher.” He sniffled. “What do I do...?”
“I can help,” said a mysterious voice.
“Who said that?” Tiger asked, looking around.
“I did!” And with a flutter, the paper that Tiger had shoved to the edge of his desk had drifted off to the floor, as if by magic. There was a grunt when the paper hit the floor and then a soft sigh. “But first... could you help me back onto the table?” the voice said in a muffled tone.
Tiger nervously bent down to pick up the paper that had fallen off his desk. On it was the same lopsided face that he had drawn earlier, except now its eyes brimmed with life and its mouth was tilted upwards in an amused grin.
“Hey there. Tiger, am I right?” The paper asked. Tiger nodded. “Well the name is Pap, short for... well, that doesn’t matter. Anyway, I’m here to help you!”
Tiger frowned. “How can you help me?” he asked doubtfully.
“Well, let me show you. Start drawing and I’ll watch.”
Tiger was confused, but then shrugged. Why should he question a magical paper?
“Hmm... well, first, treat everything like shapes,” Pap instructed. “Shadows, objects, colors all have shapes! Just focus on them and draw them out!”
Tiger tilted his head. “I think I get it?”
Pap chuckled. “Here, let me show you.”
With Pap’s guiding, Tiger slowly began to improve in his art. His grades started to rise, and Tiger could never be happier with not only his newest mentor but his newest friend as well. In class, Pap would silently help Tiger with his work by pointing out areas Tiger could fix but never touching the work himself.
Weeks had gone by and it was close to the end of the school year. Tiger’s art teacher had assigned them a final assignment in class. With Pap’s help, Tiger felt confident that he would be able to do well. However, when Tiger opened his bag, Pap was nowhere to be found.
Tiger began to worry. His friend was missing and he could not find him. He couldn’t leave class to look for Pap, but he was unsure that he could do this assignment by himself.
“I can’t do it without, Pap...” he mumbled.
But he knew Pap would be disappointed in him if he gave up now. Tiger had worked so hard these past weeks to get better at art and he wanted to make Pap proud of him. Filled with a new confidence, Tiger set his pencil to the paper and began to draw.
As Tiger started to walk home after submitting his final assignment, he heard a rustling in his backpack. From out of his backpack, was Pap! He had been hiding all this time!
“There you are, Pap! I was worried!” Tiger exclaimed.
“Hey, I was just watching you at work. You can’t rely on me all the time, you know,” Pap said. “But I knew you could do it, Tiger! All you had to do is just believe that you can do it and just keep trying!”
Tiger laughed. Honestly, he was just happy to have his friend back.
But Tiger would never forget the lessons that Pap had taught him. He would always believe in himself and push himself forward.
All it takes is a bit of practice.