So, there I was.
Standing there, unnaturally dressy clothes, a school uniform sort
of thing, had replaced my usual worn jeans and pleasantly comfy
tee shirts. I was in Mr. Benson's fourth hour painting class. Oh
He decided that we all
had a deep appreciation for art work, classics I may add, and
upon making this decision, scheduled us for a tour of the
I was a freshman in
high school when I first met Mr. Benson. I stumbled into his
studio-esque classroom on the third floor in a flurry of papers
and blonde curls and bellbottoms. I was now a junior as I stood
in front of him now, in front of the art museum, and so
The easy spring winds
which gently implied that summer was on its way blew through our
hair, mine seeming most greatly affected, as it was well down to
the small of my back, and I had fruitlessly tamed it this morning
since I had to 'look nice' for the trip. The breeze tousled his
curls and the way he kept reaching up with one hand so naturally
and unknowingly to brush them from his face just, I don't know,
made me melt to the ground and seep away down the street, down
into the sewers and out to the sea.
"Samantha," I heard my
name called and snapped to attention. I looked up and saw Mr.
Benson with a subdued look in his green eyes, so often found
there. "Are you coming inside, or are you going to do one of your
famous cityscapes right here, right now?"
I was always one of
his favorite students. "Well, I was sort of contemplating it. I
mean, look how pleasant everything looks today."
He smiled that calm,
cool smile and put his hand on my shoulder. "Yes, it really is a
very nice day. If I had some pencils or something I'd join you.
But, seeing as I don't, and you've already paid to come here, as
have I, I believe we should get going."
"So true." I pulled a
pencil box from my purse and waved it around slowly. "Are you
sure though? Because I'm willing to share."
He laughed in an
untroubled manner. "And that's why you are one of my favorites.
Come on, Sam."
Inside the prestigious
building, I followed the class which followed Mr. Benson around
like a flock of sheep. He pointed out the use of color in each
painting, texture, etcetera. I could hardly keep my mind on the
pieces as we followed the art teacher around the museum.
A few hours later, we
all gathered in the lobby, tired, some bored, some enthralled and
inspired, and some of us, in love.
Mr. Benson drew
attention to the class. "So, everyone, what, may I ask, was your
favorite? Personally, I enjoy Turner…" He smiled. "Kate? What was
"I liked the large
sculpture on the third floor…"
Once again, caught in
the grasp of a dream my mind floated out to a quiet bench in
Central Park, my happy place I would go to in my mind. I walked
down the path, pencils jingling in my purse, quiet padding of my
feet against the ground, birds, trees, tranquility. Only this
time, the art teacher awaited me on the bench in place of the
countless other people I would chat with. As I sat down next to
him, I vaguely heard my name. Louder, louder, louder…
"Samantha?" I snapped
to attention. "Dreaming again?"
I nodded and smiled.
"What else do you expect me to be doing, Mr. Benson?"
He grinned. "Good
point. So, what is your answer?"
"I…I didn't catch the
question. How can I release an answer if the question was never
"Don't speak in
riddles, Sam." He smiled, he, the king of riddles and 'if you can
decipher my next trick, you will know', smiled teasingly. "What
was your favorite work of art, Sam?"
Oh how I felt it build
up on the edge of my tongue. How it wanted to fly away from my
lips like doves. It's you, Mr. Benson. It's you.
A few years later, a
few excruciatingly painful years later, I still woke up the
morning in my rat-hole apartment replaying the scene again and
again, only modified to fit my liking as follows:
"What was your
favorite work of art, Sam?"
Smiling, "You Mr.
Benson. It's you. You and all of your not so much older than I,
talented, dark, curly haired, bespectacled, humorous self. You
are my favorite work of art. You, Mr. Benson."
Oblivious to the class
kissing usually follows.
Not since high school
graduation. Not since the first time I stepped into his classroom
have I love another man. Never. Not since I handed him my first
completed painting and his eyes lit up with 'someone who's not
taking this class for an easy A'. Not since he pushed the school
to give me that scholarship I needed so badly to end up the
prestigious art school I was now making my life hell to go to. I
remembered he liked Turner. Not since high school, I've never
turned to another man. Not since then.
So, today was like any
other day, except the fact that it was a Saturday and I had no
classes. I hauled myself from the depths of my empty bed and off
to the shower, figuring, I'd stop by the coffee house and check
out the library for any new books I could bribe my friend into
letting me borrow before they were put on the shelves.
Forty five minutes
later I rushed into the lush scent of coffee and baked goods and
veggie breakfasts and out of the industrial scent of mid-December
What's this? A
familiar face peeping out from behind the New York Times? No. It
couldn't be. It can't be. It just shouldn't be!
"Samantha?" The papers
went down. There, rising from his chair, almost knocking over his
coffee to come and hug me just like in my dreams….
"Mr. Benson! I haven't
seen you since graduation!" A strong warm embrace just like I had
the night I left high school forever.
"And same to you! I
saw your stuff at the college. You just get more talented all the
time." He held me back by the shoulders. "And more beautiful, no
doubt." Caressing my face he just looked at me, deep into my
eyes, and I waited for the romantic comment… "I remember when you
were just a scrawny freshman. Now look at you. A full blown
artist and beautiful young lady. I'm so proud of you. You know, I
talked to your professor. He thinks you're the best one of the
I blushed. "Thanks,
"Sam, I'm not your
teacher anymore. You can call me Sal." He smiled.
"Sal? That's cute." I
smiled. "It fits."
"Well, I can't exactly
go by Sam, now can I?"
I felt puzzled. "Why?
What's your real name?"
"Samuel." He smiled
with only the use of his eyes. "Come sit down with me. I want to
hear everything about college."
We sat there and
talked for three and a half hours. I drank coffee after coffee
after coffee and absorbed everything he said, and took in all his
handsomeness like I had as a student.
We met like that for
about two weeks, every Saturday when I was free from art
On the beginning of
the third week, as we were parting, he dropped the smallest, most
insecure bomb I've ever heard dropped.
"Sam, you want to meet
me for dinner tonight?"
"Heh?" Confused, I let
the first thing that came to my mind slip from my mouth.
"Would you like to
join me for dinner tonight? I can pick you up at your apartment
if you tell me where you live." He said it slowly, like nursing
off the effects of Valium.
My heart burst into a
thousand butterflies that had been trapped there since the first
day of freshman year. "Of course!" I quickly scribbled down my
address on a pink Post-it and shoved it into his hands.
Three and a half
months later, I slipped my legs into the depths of my bed, (which
was below a print of a Turner, which I enjoyed thoroughly),
beneath all the fuzzy, furry, quilted blankets I owned to protect
me from the chilled New York winter. Only, this time, as
different from all the times leading up to this one and the past
three week's nights, I had something new to protect me from the
bitter cold of the winter: the art teacher flipped back the
massive amounts of covers and slid onto the mattress. I turned
off the lamp, and I pulled the blankets up to my chin. The minute
amount of light that found its way into the bedroom lit it up
enough that I could see Sal doing the same, but working his way
closer to myself. Once romantically plastered against me he
looked deep into my eyes, (I could tell. Even as a kid, one could
feel Mr. Benson's gaze like laser beams, intensely wonderful
laser beams, but strong none the less. You could tell he was
staring at you from down the hall in the middle of a power outage
if you were blind), and smiled. "You always were my favorite
"I know," I put my arm
around his back. "You know, I have a funny story I've failed to
"Continue," he said,
with a hint of wonder in his voice.
"Remember when you
took my class to the Metropolitan Museum?"
"And when we were
done, you asked us what our favorite work of art was?"
"Never could I tell
you it was you."