I couldn’t believe that summer had ended so fast. It had been almost three months since I saw Alex. I wondered what type of person he was – if he was artistic or if he liked to leave an impression on people. At least that’s what he did to me. He carved his way into my mind. I pictured him wearing that black leather jacket and that amazing smile. Maybe he was going to be back at school – I hoped.
I looked down at my schedule and found out that I had art first. It was in room 130. I followed the signs and found it. The classroom was quiet and it felt like it wasn’t a classroom. It felt old and abandoned. There were pictures and paintings all around the walls. The floor was made of cement and so were the walls. It felt like I was in a basement. The tables were rectangular so that two people would be sitting in one table. There wasn’t anyone in the classroom. I must’ve been early. I went to the very back and found a seat next to the window. Staring out the window sometimes gave me some fresh air.
I put my head on the table and stared out into the wild. There was a huge field outside with weeds poking out everywhere. It seemed like the wild since it looked unattended to. I stared up at the sky and saw no clouds – that was disappointing. Sometimes I liked to pick out clouds and imagine shapes or things. Whenever Jesse and I went out, we’d point out different shapes and then look at the same one after a few minutes -it would be different.
Suddenly, I heard someone shift beside me. I lifted my head and looked at the stranger that sat next to me – it was Alex. He had this weird way of appearing out of nowhere. I wondered why he chose the seat right next to mine when there were so many other tables in the room. I looked around and found that all the seats were filled. I didn’t even realize people entered the room. No one spoke and so I thought that I was alone. Even the teacher wasn’t saying anything. I looked over at the board and realized that it said ‘Please No Talking. Give yourselves a few minutes to get into the mood’. Music came out from the teacher’s laptop and he watched everyone, as they remained silent.
I turned my attention to Alex and found him staring outside, the same way that I did. I looked at his eyes they were green like the wild. His lips – I wanted to kiss him. What part of me wanted to say that? I didn’t know. Alex was just a stranger, but it felt like I knew him more than anyone else. I didn’t realize that I was staring at his lips for too long until he caught me. His facial expression changed into a something seductive. I quickly looked away making it more obvious that I wanted to kiss him. I felt my face turn a bright red.
I felt his breath on my neck, “So you want to kiss me?” I was seconds from grabbing him and kissing him right there, but I didn’t.
I lied, “No. Why would I do that? This is probably my second time talking to you.”
He laughed, “So you counted?”
No explanation came out of my mouth. He had me cornered like a cat to a mouse. There was a burning sensation in my chest. That’s the way he made me feel.
He said, “Come on Kaylee. I was just joking.”
I remembered the cd that he gave me. The music was somewhat different than what I usually listened to. It didn’t have that depressing beat, but the lyrics… That’s what I fell for. It gave me a push towards something greater. My favorite song from them was ‘My beautiful rescue’. I thought the lyrics connected to me emotionally.
“Alex? I really liked that band – this providence. They were really good.”
“I’m glad you liked it. Everyone I know says they’re not that great, but I like them. They inspire me with my music.”
I lifted an eyebrow, “So you’re in a band?”
He shook his head, “No. I’m not in a band. I’m more solo. I play by myself.”
I was curious, “I want to hear you play a song?”
“Yeah? I’ll play for you. Just go to ‘Beatz’ and I’ll be there most of the time.”
“I’ll make sure to stop by.” I didn’t realize it, but I was getting along with him. I never really got along with anyone except Jesse and Daisy. It was another side of me that I didn’t know.
He changed the subject, “What were you looking at?”
He was talking about when I was looking outside. I pointed at the grass.
“I was looking at the grass and how wild it looked. Have you ever wondered how it would be like to go somewhere without buildings and people? I think there’s too much noise in this world. Don’t you think?”
There was shock on his face. My comment must’ve struck a chord in him. He probably didn’t expect me to talk about something like that. I was one step closer to figuring out this mystery that he liked to hide. Maybe he wasn’t such a bad kid. Maybe it was just a front he put up to deal with people. At least that’s what I did. I acted like a normal teenage girl. I acted like I wanted popularity and like I was satisfied with my life, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t happy at all. My friends were my only escape and even then they didn’t know what I really thought – how I really felt. I wanted to run… runaway far away.
The teacher turned off the music and began talking.
“Have all of you got into the mood? From here on out, I want everyone to start off every class by staying quiet a few minutes. I overheard some of you talking. So don’t do that again.” He pulled out a black and white photo of a girl that was playing on the playground.
“For your first assignment, I want all of you to find something that you want to portray in your photograph. See how I picked this girl? I wanted everyone to feel the joy of childhood when looking at this photo. So for the whole class period, I want you to go out and take a photo with your phone of anything. You have to be back in 30 minutes.” This was a very unusual class. None of my teachers let us leave the room, but this teacher was telling us to leave and find a photo.
Alex was faster than anyone in the room. I didn’t even notice he left my side. I didn’t know what to choose at all. A few minutes had already passed and I still couldn’t think up anything. Just when I lost hope in this assignment, I remembered the wild. I remembered looking out the window. I dashed out the door and into the wild. Beyond the weeds, were a row of sunflowers - it was so ironic. Weeds were something that no one wanted and beyond that was something beautiful. I wanted to portray that and so I took a photo that had both the sunflower and the weeds in it.
I went back into the classroom and found people showing each other their photos. The teacher told us to email all of the photos to him. After receiving all of the pictures, he pulled it up on the projector. There were many interesting photos. There was a picture of someone’s converse. There was also a picture of makeup in the bathroom. Out of all the pictures, one caught my eye. It was a picture of a pair of shoes that were tied together by shoelaces. The shoes were hung up on a thin wire that was above houses. I wondered why people did that. I didn’t know the meaning behind it at all.
I asked Alex, “Which ones yours?”
“The one with the shoes.” Why was it that I liked that particular photo? That was so weird. I didn’t even know it was Alex’s.
The teacher spoke, “Now, for your next assignment, it’ll be short. Just sketch anything you want and for the next class, I’ll teach you about how to improve.” Everyone grabbed paper from the front and began sketching. I began drawing a picture of Fred’s Diner with Daisy at the counter and both Jesse and I sipping on our smoothies. After the quick sketch, I looked over at Alex’s artwork.
He drew a river with vegetation surrounding it. The grass sparkled with the river. I wondered if there was really a place like that. The color of the river wasn’t blue like it always was in photos. The river was colored orange. There was a guy standing next to the river looking down at his reflection. I didn’t know who it was until I looked over at his clothes. The clothes that the guy wore were the same as the ones Alex was wearing. He wore a maroon flannel with faded jeans. He wore sneakers that looked tattered and old. The white had faded to a yellow and there was dirt all over the front. It was obvious that he did a lot of walking or running. Alex was very good at drawing. What couldn’t he do? He was a musician and he was also artistic. Is that possible?
I never spoke to him before, but I wondered why? He wasn’t shy and he wasn’t mean. I was probably acting like everyone else. I didn’t want to be the only one speaking to him. I didn’t know why I spoke to him willingly, but it happened and I’m glad I did it.
“Why is the river orange?” My question must’ve surprised him because he dropped his pencil. It took him a while before he responded. It was like he wanted to form the words in his mind carefully before answering. He didn’t look like the type to get scared, but I did it twice already. It was like I interrupted his private thoughts.
He replied, “It’s the color of life.” He picked up the paintbrush and set it back on the palette.
“When the day starts and when it ends, everything is orange – the sun makes it that way. You’d think that the color would be green because there’s green everywhere, but I don’t think so. A simple scenery could turn beautiful when the orange light from the sun shines down on everything – it sparkles just like this.” He pointed at his painting and he was right; everything sparkled. It made me see a different side of the world. I wanted to wait till the sunset or till the sun rose to see the colors change everything.
“The real thing is so much better. When I came across the river, I had to wait for it. Just as I expected, it was amazing.”
“This is real? I thought you made it up.”
“No, it’s real. I’ve been there many times. Maybe I could show you sometime.”
He lifted his head and looked into my eyes. It came as a shock to me. I never realized that his eyes were deep blue – it changed. Before, his eyes were green, but now they were blue. His eyes glittered almost like tears would fall from them. It wasn’t tears; it was something else.
I thought, “Maybe.” That one word meant a whole lot. Just like me, it was half-hearted. That was who I was. I didn’t like fully partaking in something that I didn’t like and I was too afraid to say no. There was something about him that snapped the last straw that I had for thinking rationally. I wanted to believe in possibilities and something more than what I lived in. My usual and correct response should’ve been ‘sorry, I can’t. My parents are strict.’ but that wasn’t my response.
I said, “sure.” In that instant I knew what was happening. Just like a shoe hung up on a wire, I was free. No one could hold me back. The sky had no limits and what I had realized was that I had been living a lie. What I believed to be right wasn’t my definition.