(SHE / HER / HERS)
My name is Jacqui Moulder and I have my associate and bachelor’s degrees in Illustration. I am graduating from Moore College of Art & Design and have been working for the Brandywine River Museum of Art and Anthropologie as an on-site artist. My senior thesis is about illustrating my novel, To Save a Soldier. Its themes focus on war, PTSD, LGBTQ military life, and learning to live again after service. I am a traditional and digital concept artist for characters and environments.
I picked my head up and looked around in a dazed panic. There were trays full of shabby tools and an old raggedy chair in the center of the room. Right beside the door was a video camera set up and pointed toward the room. The walls were lined with rusty, old power tools. It looked like an execution room. Suddenly a man I'd never seen before walked in. I couldn't tell who else was in the room. Out of nowhere there were hands on me. I was hoisted into the air aggressively and thrown down on a hard, cold chair. It was stained with blood already. It was so hard to stay awake. My eyelids dipped and my brain buzzed quietly—but I refused to give in.
When I woke up, I was on a concrete staircase. U.S. soldiers stared down at me, tears immediately gushed from my eyes and I tried to form sentences, but they came out as gurgled cries. They pointed their guns at me, as if I were a threat. I backed away, dragging myself up the stairs toward the side of the building where I suddenly stopped. They followed me, cornering me with guns pointed. To make it out of that damn cave, only to end up here, shot and killed by other soldiers . . . I stood up on my knees and let my weight slump forward.
They took us through the waterways and all the old brick buildings were so beautiful. There were cute little Venetian kids running around barefoot on the hot cobblestone sidewalks as they laughed and skipped together. Tensai sat across from me on the boat. He was wearing a sleek, black designer leather jacket, with a tight white shirt and perfectly tailored dark blue jeans leading to an expensive pair of black boots. He sat on his side, so cool and casual, as he began strumming his guitar.
Ball Pit Painting
Half of the entire building was a ball pit with trampoline islands and rope swings. No doubt, it was the biggest arcade either of us had ever seen and I wanted to get as far away from it as possible. "Keith—!" I yelled after watching him bump into people and maneuver around the crowd. I almost thought I lost him before I ended up on the outer rim of the ball pit, but all I had to do was look up to see him in mid-swan dive. "I love Japan!" he practically cried, as he leapt into the pit of balls. Despite myself, I couldn't help but laugh as he sank into the mass of colorful plastic spheres completely disappearing below them.
I felt arms snake across my back. Keith held my mid-section tight and smiled just a small smile. I stopped what I was doing as he put his head on my shoulder and silently embraced me. It was the most honest hug I'd ever received. I wasn't a touchy-feely person and I grew up without physical affection. My parents never hugged me and frankly I never felt as if I was missing out on anything, until now.
Suddenly, there was a boom and Keith's eyes bugged.
"The hell was that!?" He bounded up, hitting his head on the ceiling, making the Ferris wheel pod swing back and forth. His breathing accelerated so quickly that I thought he was having heart palpitations.
"It's just the fireworks." With a hand on his chest I pushed him gently back into his seat. "Look." I pointed his head towards the fiery spectacles in the sky.
"Oh my god . . ." He leaned forward, putting his forehead up against the glass. "I haven't seen fireworks since I was a kid." He sat back down beside me, calm now, and looked out at the sky.
Keith Barracks is an ex-Marine who joins the Delta Force to help end the war on terror. Tensai Ishikawa is a high society brain surgeon that once operated on him. These are the two main characters of my story.
Jacqui Moulder is a twenty-one year old artist from West Grove, Pennsylvania who specializes in concept art for characters and environmental designs, as well as illustration. She has a passion for political art and draws inspiration from a military aesthetic. She got her associate degree in Illustration at Delaware College of Art and Design and her bachelor’s at Moore College of Art & Design. She has taught art classes at the Brandywine River Museum of Art and is currently working as an on-site installation artist at Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie in Philadelphia. Her personal art focuses on social equality, PTSD, human rights, cultural education, martyrdom, and exploitation versus glorification.