….. by TeeJay
Joan is faced with a rather difficult and quite personal task this time. There’s a public art show in school, and Adam’s sculpture is one of the objects on display. It’s a huge thing, made from wires and metal with light bulbs and sorts of funky stuff in it. We later learn that it’s called Ascension. Helen tells Joan, “He wanted to call it The Thing made Out Of Stuff, but I talked him into Ascension.” And God asks her to keep it from going on display. “That simple?” Joan asks, not aware it’s not going to be quite that simple after all.
She finds Adam with his arm buried in a can recycling container, extracting empty soda pop cans from it to take off the pull tabs and put them on a string like a necklace. He’s completely fascinated by it and shrugs Joan off when she asks him if he would reconsider entering the art show. It’s so cute when she tells him that every kid makes soda pop necklaces and he, completely oblivious, goes, “I thought I invented this.” Joan drags him away from the recycling container and asks him to not enter the art show. When he asks her why, she asks back, “What would be a good reason?” He looks at her, frowning. “If… my piece blew chunks.”
Of course it doesn’t blow chunks, and Adam folds his arms, listening to Joan stutter, his brow creased. She comes up with some lame excuse that his sculpture is too avant-garde to enter a high school exhibition. He frowns again, saying, “You think my piece stinks.” That hurts him. Joan desperately tries to make it clear she likes his art. Very much. She wants to buy it. His face lights up like a light bulb. “I’ll give it to you,” he says. Oh, great. Goal accomplished. Or not. “It’s yours. After the art show,” Adam tells her. She doesn’t know why it’s such a big deal to withdraw it, but he explains that there’s gallery owners and buyers and judges in the paper. “There not many things I have a chance to win, but this is one of them, so I’d like that. And so would my dad and…” he hesitates, “… so would my mom. If she were here.” What can Joan say that would stand against that?
Joan thinks about stealing the sculpture, but no one will help her. So she’s really running out of ideas. Once the art show has started, she runs into Father Ken and asks him if God would ever ask someone to do something evil. He says no but when she wonders if the devil may have appeared to her in the guise of God and asks him about that, he leads her to believe that it may be possible. She thinks that explains why “someone” wants her to do such an obviously “bad” thing as disappointing Adam by making him remove his piece from display.
Whoa, too late, because Adam just sold his sculpture. An old lady offered him $500 for it, so no way he can say no. He tells Joan, “I know, I’m sorry, but I’ll make you another one, okay?” Security Guard-God looks at her with a told-you-so gaze when Adam runs off to wave the $500 check in Price’s face. So obviously there’s more to it than she realizes here.
And she discovers exactly what God’s reason for wanting the sculpture out of the art show is when the next morning, she witnesses a conversation between Price and Adam. Adam’s quitting school because that check he got made him think if he can live off his art, what does he need to finish high school for? Neither Joan nor Helen nor Price can convince him otherwise. To Price he says, “Dude, I won the art show, I’m hot.” Helen tries again, but he tells her, “Mrs. Girardi, listen, my stuff comes from the inside. From the heart, okay, not the brain. And school is a brain specialism.” He points his finger at Price. “You’re all about the brain, you’ve got no heart. Jane, don’t worry, we’ll still be able to hang out, okay?” (And if I may just quickly add, this is a rather rogue and brazen thing for Adam to say to Price.) Adam leaves and Price quips, “I believe the pertinent phrase is, you can’t win ’em all. I mean, what are you gonna do?”
Having heard that same question from God, it all falls into place for Joan, and she knows what she’s gonna do. Impulsively, she runs to the display room and takes a chair to the sculpture, going at it until she has broken it to pieces. Upon hearing the noise, teachers come running, telling her to stop. Once Ascension lies in shambles, she turns around and sees Adam standing in the doorway. And the shocked and devastated look on his face just makes you crumble. He looks at Joan, who slowly realizes what she’s just done, and leaves.
In Price’s office later, Adam is sitting there like the picture of misery. Helen and Will are appalled. No one knows why Joan did such a violent act that was completely uncalled for. Adam refuses to lodge a complaint and when Joan looks at him, he shoots her a condescending and disappointed look before he intentionally looks away. Joan gets suspended from school for three days. When Price points out that she owes Adam an apology, he gets up before she can say anything. In a low voice he says, “Never mind. As soon as I make another sale, I’m outta here.”
He leaves and Joan can’t help but go after him. She catches up with him in the hallway; he’s close to tears. “You know that… you know that I make these things… to remember my mother, okay? Because she loved them,” he tells her, his voice shaky. “I’m sorry,” Joan can only stammer. “I’m sorry, please,” she pleads. He turns around. “Listen, we’re not friends anymore. We probably never were.” He walks away and Joan’s hand goes to her mouth, letting the tears come. Oh my God, what had she done?