By the end of Chemistry, my first class, I felt much better. I loved the tiny class size, the teacher who reminded me so much of my witty, sarcastic teacher from back home, and the fact that the students in my class seemed genuinely interested in the material. It was a two-hour class, but it felt like only a half-hour, so much fun packed into the block that it simply flew by. When I stepped out of the science wing, the sun had finally broken through the dreary clouds of the morning and flooded the expansive campus with light and warmth. Unable to stop myself from grinning like a fool, I started skipping down the sidewalk toward the arts building to find my next class.
Application of Visual Arts was held in a huge studio-like room, with a raised dais in the middle and easels spreading out like rays of sunshine. There were nearly forty seats, yet only fifteen were filled with students, not including myself. My already grand day got even more amazing when the professor declared that we were diving headfirst into painting, a free-for-all meant to show our current skill levels. Excited beyond reason, I grabbed four brushes of varying sizes, the five basic colors—red, blue, yellow, black, and white—then seated myself by the window to get to work.
Ever since I was a little kid, I had loved art. I would draw with anything I could get my hands on; crayons, pends, pencils, Sharpies, even charred wood from a fireplace. If it could write, I made art with it. I was absolutely engrossed in my depiction of a Cherokee creation myth, the one about the turtle, but I was slowly becoming aware that the watched feeling from before had returned. Using the not-bristled end of my brush to mix red and blue into a deep indigo, I glanced furtively about the room, praying it was only the teacher checking my progress. But no, that would have been too normal. It was a boy, big and tall enough to pass for a junior at least, but the Hello My Name Is tag on his shirt clarified that he too was a lowly freshman like the rest of us. The curling script of his name was impossible to read, and my gaze flicked up to his face out of habit.
His eyes were concealed behind his bangs, but the curve of his luscious supermodel lips told me that I had gone from sneaky to openly staring, and he knew it. Blushing furiously, I jerked back to hide behind my canvas, trying to finish my painting while pretending none of that had just happened. Even though I hadn’t seen him this morning, I just knew, deep in my gut, that he was the one who’d been staring at me earlier. Of the thousands of questions buzzing in my head like ADHD-afflicted flies, the biggest, scariest question was why.
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