“To practice any art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow. So do it.”
Mr. Davidson would kill me. There wasn’t a hole wide enough for my carcass after he had his fill. I glanced at my watch again for the sixth time in the past five minutes and swore under my breath. I was always on time, but today was a perfect exception to my usual perfect attendance. I’d like to thank my best friend/roommate that left me stranded on campus. The community bus was never on time if the man behind the wheel didn’t already push eighty.
When the bus finally neared the community center, I jumped and ran off the bus. According to my watch, I would be about five or ten minutes late if I didn’t hurry now. My eyes narrowed at the familiar gray Porsche in the parking lot, which belonged to the best friend.
A teacher’s assistant was always to be early. My darn morning class had ran late and the ride I entrusted to my best friend had been a no show. She already left by the time my teacher let me out. As I ran toward the building, I slowed at the sight of an elderly man in a wheelchair. Instead of another curse under my breath, I accepted my fate. I grabbed the door, smiled at him, and held it open while he rolled inside.
“Thank you,” he said as he flashed his gums.
“No problem, sir.” Despite my good Samaritan work, I was ten minutes late if my watch was correct.
I dragged my feet across the tile floor. My eyes stared at envy at the sandwich machine as I passed. Then, I finally stood outside the open door of my model drawing class. I always needed to brush up on certain aspects of my talent, but the college didn’t offer brush up courses. Plus, I helped a lot of people in the center as a teacher’s assistant.
The only reason art had ever become my passion was a foster mother used to drop off the kids at a local community center. I found myself again in an art class where I was a natural, it became my escape for so long. I even volunteered to teach young children at the center before, but it was hard to have time for both.
“Nice of you to join us, Ms. Roberts,” Mr. Davidson said, smirk plastered on his face.
My face burned almost the color of my auburn hair. “Sorry, Mr. Davidson,” I lowered my gaze to the floor as I moved toward my chair which was a few paces from his desk. “It won’t happen again.”
“Make sure it doesn’t.” His eyes narrowed for half a moment. “Anyway, it would appear our model is late as well. It seems to be one of those days.”
Even though I was his assistant, I had never learned his name as hadn’t most of the class. As I unpacked my sketchpad from my bag, I looked over surprised by a few new faces. It was a free art class offered at the community center, we never had many students.
Then, we heard a knock at the door. I turned to see a young man dressed in all black, except for the streak of red in his converse. Mr. Davidson approached the door and escorted him toward the pedestal. There were dark shades on his face that concealed his identity. I wondered how he could see in the already dimly lit room.
He shrugged for a moment removed his jacket, shirt, and undershirt leaving him shirtless. He wasn’t nude as some of the advanced classes worked with, but that hadn’t stopped the girls from a gasp or two. I even squeezed my legs tighter as I gawked at his features. A person had to be confident to stand in front of a room completely shirtless and bare. His dark black hair stood out against his pale skin, I noted, as he took his pose. It wasn’t his skin that captured my attention, but the intricate design on his chest, which covered his heart, and weaved toward his back.
It started over the left side of his chest, under his arm, and headed toward his backside, a wide tail curled at his back. It was a dragon which appeared to be in mid-flight, moments away from a cloud of fire toward an offender. I quickly pulled out my sketchpad, so that I wouldn’t miss a moment. I decided, at the last minute, to draw two sides of him since I could only see one angle at a time. Lower than the dragon on his chest toward his belly button was a small sun.
I’d never drawn a person with tattoos, but I found that I enjoyed it. Instead of color, I decided to use pencil and charcoal to shade in his clothes. As I moved to his tattoos, along his lean but somewhat muscled figure, I chose to use color to bring them alive through the paper. Once I finished my outline of his front, I moved to another seat completely entranced by him. After I sat down, I stared at his back where an area of the dragon raised. A faint shade of pink discolored behind the tattoo like one would cover up a blemish.
The sight made me swallow; something like that must have been painful.
Mr. Davidson walked the floor most of the time I had drawn, before he made his way toward me. “May I see, Ms. Roberts?”
I sighed, broke my gaze from the model, and handed over my sketchpad. He appeared surprised as he looked back up at me. “Very good, Ms. Roberts. You portray the model as he is in the moment. How about you help a few students? Yours is almost finished. You could draw him in your sleep.”
As per his request, I walked the room and helped a few students to finish up the outline. We usually worked as a class to finish the drawing.
“Very good today, class,” Mr. Davidson said as he brought the class to attention. “Tomorrow we’ll work on the rest of your drawings. Also, Ms. Roberts, good luck tomorrow night, even though you don’t need it.”
My cheeks flamed once again before I thanked him in front of the class. Afterward, everyone grabbed their things, walked out, while I trailed behind the crowd. As I packed away my things, I sent a text to my best friend/roommate, the same one that ditched me, Chelsea.
Thankfully, she answered rather fast.
Sorry ran late myself. I’ll pick you up.
As I packed away my things and was about to put away my phone, it rang in the hallway. Swiftly, I answered it without a glance at the caller ID.
“Maggie, baby. How was your day?”
My boyfriend, Barry, had class most of the day, plus he helped with the fraternity pledges.
“It’s been good,” I answered as I walked down the hall toward the entrance. “I’m about to head back to campus, to the studio. Care to join me?”
Then there was laughter on his end, I realized he was with the group again. “You know I’d love too, but I can’t. The guys and I are going for drinks and pizza. Want to join us instead?”
It was times such as this that I remembered how much Barry hated my art. He only ever saw some of my splatter paint splotches from my anger and emotions. Whenever I needed to destress, I used finger paint. Almost everyone on campus agreed that I had talent, Barry always assumed the opposite.
“I have a gallery tomorrow, Bear,” I huffed with a roll of my eyes. I hated to repeat myself to Barry, which seemed like a never-ending cycle. “I’ll be at the studio the rest of the afternoon, no doubt all night to finish my paintings. Hopefully, a couple hours sleep somewhere between all that.”
“You work too much.” I heard him or someone else laugh again. “Be sure to get some sleep. Talk tomorrow. Love you, Maggie.”
I pushed the front door open as I stepped into the bright sunlight. “Love ya too, Barry. Bye.”
Chelsea stood outside in front of her Porsche as I approached. “Sorry about earlier.” She winced at me, her eyes pleaded for me to understand. “I had to get to my behavior analysis class. Mr. Rune has been rather strict on tardiness. Anyway, are you headed back to the studio?”
I gave her a nod as we walked around her car to each side. “Think I could join you?” She asked over the car. “We haven’t hung out much in the past few weeks.”
I gave her a stern look. “That’s because of Marc,” I shot back. “Promise me this won’t happen again. I almost left my drawing class alone today.”
We both climbed into the car, her backpack in the backseat, while mine was on the floorboard at my feet.
“You’re right, though,” I sighed as I slouched in the passenger seat after I pulled over my seat belt. Chelsea had started the car in the direction of food. It was a surprise the girl hadn’t gained a pound lately from the food she loved to consume. “We haven’t hung out much from my galleries, Barry, and your time with Marcos. How are things with Marc?”
Chelsea looked at me with worry in her brown eyes. “I think I’m coming on too strong.”
“That’s a surprise,” I snorted, stared out the window as the sun moved over the sky. “You told me that college is not a place for true love, but one timers or no timers.”
She sighed, fingers tightened around the wheel. “I know, but I envy you, Maggie. You’ve got Barry, a genuine guy that wants to settle down, which is unbelievable in this age. I wanted Marc to be the guy for me.”
Barry and I had been together since the end of freshman year after we met at a party which Chelsea dragged me. How I could tell Chelsea, that after almost six months, things were stale between Barry and I? There had never been sparks between us, but I always thought they would appear in another form. Chelsea also wouldn’t like how much Barry hated my art, he couldn’t find a bunker deep enough to hide from her.
It was a very selfish reason that I stayed with Barry, I didn’t want to be alone. I’d been alone since I was young, when my mother ran off, and my drunken father landed me in foster care. After being alone for so long, despite how fragile our relationship was, I dealt with the complications.
“How about dinner at the studio? My treat.” Chelsea offered as she turned into a Chinese restaurant.
“Looks like we’ve got our night all planned out, babe,” I smirked at her in agreement.