Genre: Romantic Dramedy
Summary: Marin hates Brendan Washburn. Then to her disgust she gets stuck taking art classes with him. But when she gets to know the real Brendan, he teaches her a new way to look at life...and love.
Life Lessons in Old Navy
If I Knew Better I Wouldn’t Be Here
This was not happening.
This could not be happening.
I refused to believe, that in my art class, in my sanctuary from life in general...
Life had found me. In my sanctuary.
Oh, how I hated life right then.
Everything I loved about the classroom seemed to melt away as I watched Brendan greet Pam Thatcher, all the while watching me out of the corner of his eye. The smell of paint and dish soap faded away. The cheery windows dully darkened. It even seemed as if the sketch I was drawing on my canvas had degenerated into nothing more than scribbles.
Of all places, why did he have to come there?
I took a deep breath. Okay, Marin, easy does it. You can work through this.
I looked to my canvas again. Sketch, I told my self. I put the pen to paper. I tried to make a smooth arc for the circle, but I couldn’t move my arm. I just stared into the small crevice between the triangle and cone.
I froze, dread replacing the blood in my veins. I looked up nervously. Pam Thatcher’s eyes were on me intently, as she requested, “Marin, you can give our new student Brendan here guidance through the day, can’t you?”
No, Pam, I can’t. It’s not that I won’t it’s I can’t. I can’t be around him for that long a time.
But of course, I didn’t say that. People would be stapling “heartless snob” to my forehead.
It took me a very, very long time to respond. I just sat there, my mouth gaping, trying to find the right words. Brendan bit his lip nervously. I could feel every eye in the room focusing in on me, like a million lit matches against my skin. Finally, I choked out, “Okay.”
That was all I could muster under the pressure. Okay. The matches feeling stayed hot on my cheeks as the other students went back to their sketches. I felt like I was back in school, when my band teacher had asked me, the pianist, if I wanted to perform for the NYU music program to try and win a scholarship. Except then, it was “Um, no.” I know that decision was the right one. But everyone around me except Theo seem to think otherwise.
As Brendan scooted out a chair at the table next to me, I found myself really wishing Theo was there.
“What are you doing here?!” I hissed, clutching my pencil hard between white knuckles.
Brendan was momentarily “too busy” to answer my question as he pulled off his jacket. He then looked at me directly. I didn’t know if it was the fading lights, the fanned air or the bright contrast of the windows, but something in there made his blue eyes even brighter.
“I’m in art class.” He replied, folding his arms slowly over his chest. Pam Thatcher, her stringy blonde hair pulled into a tight bun, brought over a canvas and sketch pencil for Brendan to use.
My fingers tightened even more on the pencil as Pam walked away, choking the eraser with my thumb. “Why are you in my art class?” I hissed once more.
Brendan shrugged, twirling his newly acquired pencil in between his fingers like a miniature baton. He just stared at it for awhile, his eyelids bobbing up and down every few seconds. A somewhat satisfied smile played over his lips, like he had a good comeback, but nothing came from his mouth.
I found myself strangely disappointed. Brendan always gave me a good chance to work on my banter.
I gave up trying to stare an answer out of him. If he knew I was glaring at him, he didn’t care. He had begun his sketch, starting with the cone on top.
Starting with the top of the shapes? How foolish! He would never be able to get his shadows and bottom shapes right, starting like this.
“What do you think you’re doing?” I burst quietly, trying not to disturb the other students while at the same time expressing the urgency of the situation to Brendan.
Brendan glanced up from his canvas, his eyes undaunted. He apparently didn’t perceive the urgency.
“I’m...drawing.” He answer slowly, as if he was talking to a four-year-old. I lowered my eyes.
“You can’t start from the top of the shapes. How are you going to know where the shadows will go, and the bottom shapes will be all messed up!” I used my hands for emphasis, nicking his canvas with the back of my fingernails. The clip sound made Susanna, the little twelve-year-old with pigtails next to me, look up at us timidly.
Then she giggled in her little school-girl sort of way, and looked back at her canvas. Her shapes were barely definable; just random lines here and there. But I suppose that’s all you can expect from someone her age.
“Well,” Brendan began as he continued to drag his pencil along the length of the cone sides. “I think you should draw your way and I will draw my way.” He didn’t look at me once. He just continued to stare into the cone forming on his page. It wasn’t all that bad for someone I assumed had never took a pencil to a canvas in his life.
I rolled my eyes, continuing on the arc of the circle. Round and round it went. Never ending. Unlimited. Unbreakable.
Why were circles so special, anyway?
“But you’re not doing it the right way,” I retorted back to Brendan. He still did not turn in my direction. Why was it so hard to catch his glance?
But why did I want it so badly anyway? I didn’t need to see his stupid face.
Brendan watched the led leave trails on his paper as he guided his pencil along. It was so hard to make it all black, all solid. No matter how hard he pushed, there still remained some small white specs to be filled. He finally responded after finishing the peak of the cone. “The ‘right way’ is sort of a funny concept. Its all about perception.”
What in heaven’s name was he talking about?!
I gaped at him. “It’s drawing a picture. You have to do it the right way.”
He shook his head, still not turning to look at me. It was getting quite annoying. A person should look at you when you are speaking to them. It’s only common courtesy, isn’t it?
I found myself no longer drawing, but scratching at leftover paint stuck on the table. My fingernail dug into the white spot, trying to remove the entire stain. My finger worked back and forth. I watched as white specks flew all around the paint. It was a bad habit.
“Look at her’s,” Brendan nodded towards Susanna, finally looking away from his newly finished cone. I was relieved to finally see his eyes in my direction again.
I glanced over at Susanna’s scribbles, where she was adding in even more scribbles with broad pencil strikes.
I turned back to Brendan, shrugging. “What about her’s?”
He had stopped looking at me already. He was now inspecting his pencil, thumbing the top and bottom between his two hands. “What do you see in her drawing?” He turned the pencil vertically.
I took a quick glance back at Susanna’s drawing as if there was some sort of secret image I was supposed to be catching. But I saw nothing but the barely comprehensible scribbles.
“I see scribbles,” I answered quietly, turning back to Brendan. He was still examining his pencil.
He looked the pencil up and down, his fingers taking in every ridge, every bump, every dip. I had never seen someone so interested in something so simple. It was almost as if hadn’t ever seen a pencil before, like it was a new tool to him.
He sighed, then turned the pencil over again. His fingers made the same laps around the pencil that they just had. Was this some sort of bad habit he had when he was uncomfortable? He shouldn’t feel on the spot. I was the one on the spot.
But on the spot for what? I’d never know if he never answered.
But then it came. “You see scribbles because it’s not your way. Your way is perfect, definite shapes. Her way is something a bit broader.”
That was really the stupidest thing I had ever heard. I mean, I had watched a good deal of stupid things like Mad TV and pretty much everything else Fox aired, but this was really the trumping statement. Was he trying to philosophical? Susanna was just young and a bad artist because she had little experience. She didn’t have a different perception.
“That’s baloney.” I stuttered, shaking my head for emphasis.
Brendan was still looking over his pencil. Didn’t he have anything else to do? Why couldn’t he look at me when I was talking to him?!
“I think you need to look at the world through someone else’s eyes.” He responded. His eyes still stayed on the pencil.
Who’s eyes? His? Even if I did I doubted that I’d understand why he tortured me so.
“I don’t know what...” I began. Brendan went back to sketching, starting on the circle next. He made swooping motions with his pencil.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you!” I hissed loudly. Susanna looked up again and giggled. George, an MSU student, gave a dirty look. Pam Thatcher glanced at us with calm eyes, then turned back to her desk.
Brendan slammed his pencil down under his palm and looked at me fiercely. “You want to know why I’m here? Because my therapist told my mother I need a creative outlet. Why, you ask? Because my dad loved to paint so my therapist thinks that if I get into his hobbies it will help me cope,” he spat. Behind his eyes I could see a tired flame burning, worn down by years of memory. His eyes told it all.
And then I sure felt like a piece of trash. I felt like the heartless snob. I could feel someone stapling it onto my forehead. I couldn’t believe myself.
I found myself staring into my lap. Brendan was back to drawing, looking as if nothing had happened. Maybe nothing had. Maybe I was over reacting. Had I really done anything wrong? All I remembered that happened was asking him to look at me. Was that so bad?
“S..sorry,” spilled over my lips before I could reconsider. I wasn’t the type of person who wanted someone to hold a grudge against me. I mean, I’m sure Brendan already did since he was always annoying me, but this was different. This was intense. This was more than our usual banter.
The tension between us was deafening. I couldn’t even hear the faint yoga music humming in the background. I ignored it. Why was I making such a big deal? Why was I still worrying about it?
“Okay.” Brendan responded after a moment.
Then I felt better. There was peace.
He didn’t look up from his drawing. He didn’t need to. I didn’t need him to. I was beginning to understand something; something I definitely hadn’t ever grasped before.
I glanced at Susanna’s messy drawing. She was intense, looking brilliant at work. She saw it as perfect. Maybe that was all that was necessary. Maybe that was all that mattered.
I glanced at Brendan, a similar expression to Susanna’s on his face. I wondered if I looked like that when I was drawing. His blue eyes bright again, I began to realize that there was much more to Brendan Washburn than I initially thought.
Note from the authoress who needs to go eat lunch:
I’m not sure if I like how this chapter came out...I’m sorry for the shortness of it, it was too long to add on another part but I couldn’t put anymore into what was already there...so its just short. Please tell me what you think! Is this getting better? I don’t know how soon to launch the A-bomb, aka really evil plot twist. Depending on if the story gets tired soon, the sooner it will come. But hopefully this stays interesting...Any suggestions? I love critiques, so send them hither! The next chapter will hopefully get up soon since this story now has a direction and I know what I want to do with it. How are the characters panning out? Is there any chemistry? Please let me know!