“Claire! Get your butt down them stairs and into the truck before your uncle leaves you!” My mother yells at me from the kitchen. Dragging myself away from my latest fictional boyfriend, “I will see you later, Jack.” I say as I lay my book down on the bed and go to slip on my sandals and grab my backpack before racing down the creaky wooden steps. “Bye, momma!” I shout as I run out the door and hop into the back of my Uncle Mark’s Ford pick up. I pound on the roof, and we are off to school.
I sit on the edge of the truck and enjoy the warm wind blowing through my blonde hair, closing my eyes. I raise my head to feel the warmth of the sun, hmmm, today will be a good day. Not a cloud in sight, just the heat of the beautiful sun. Just before we make it to the school, we get a flat, and to top it off, some jerk in a red sports car cuts us off before we can pull off. “FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!” I shout and throw my middle finger up at them as they speed away. I hop down from the truck as my cousin Bradley and my Uncle Mark exit the truck causing the hinges to squeak something awful.
“Geez Unc, when you finna oil them hinges? That sound makes my ear wanna bleed.” I tell him as he changes off the tire.
“Why don’t you do it since it bugs you so much, Claire?” He inquires, I look over at Bradley, but he’s busy on his phone.
“Maybe you should have Brad do it; maybe then he will get his nose out of his phone,” I tease. At hearing his name, Brad looks up, “Huh? Did you call me?” I snicker. “Ya Unc, you definitely need to have him be the one to do it, he doesn’t even realize we were even having a conversation. Who are you talkin to?” Brad shakes his head and readjusts his fitted hat, which means he’s uncomfortable, which makes the smile on my face grow bigger.
“Brad! Get over here and give me a hand changing out this tire, Claire heads on over to school, no need to have both of y’all late.” My uncle says. With that I give them a salute and grab my bag from the truck, not wanting to wait around and risk My uncle to change his mind and being put to work as well; I head on my way to school.
I walk through the school doors just as the first bell rings, which means I have about a minute until the tardy bell rings. “Dammit!” I curse aloud, my class is at the end of the hall and I still have to get my book, I guess I’m just going to get in trouble for not being prepared just as I start jogging down the hall someone barrels into me knocking me to the ground painfully. “What the fuck!!” I yell as I try to gain my senses back. “Fuck that hurt! What the hell do you think you’re doing?” I say while rubbing my neck, I get no response from whoever knocked me down. I look up and see two guys staring down at me.
“We are so sorry, we didn’t see you!” One the guys says, not sure which since I’m picking up my things off the floor. “Ya ya,” I say waving my hand dismissively because that was a half assed apology if I ever heard one, especially since I was able to yell at them twice and had to look at them to even get an acknowledgment from them and even still only one spoke. I don’t look at them again as I head to my classroom, I’m already late so before I head in I grab my book for class. “Late already Claire?” I say nothing. I just take my detention slip and sit down as the two assholes from the hallway walk into the class causing a groan to escape me. Deciding to ignore them I continue gathering the supplies I’ll need for class not granting them another glance.
“Class please meet our newest additions here at Crest Hill High, Darius and Dominic, Boys please choose any open seats. Would someone be willing to head to the library to get two copies of the book we are reading?” Seeing as an opportunity to get away from the two douchebags, I raise my hand and being the only one who raised her hand I get to my feet and head toward the door, but before Im able to leave I hear a deep voice say “May I go with her, so I can learn where the library is for the future?”
“That would be very good actually!” says Mr. Jackson. With a groan I tell the newcomer “come on.” I exit the room and quickly stride down the hall making my turns left and right quick not looking back to see if the guy is following. Once I hit the library, I raise my hand to open the door but as I do a hand covers mine. I gasp surprised by the feeling that comes with the hand, I look up and see a stunning set of caramel-colored eyes, staring at me in turn. I take my hand back “I’m sorry”
“No, I’m sorry, I reached second. I’m Darius by the way, and again I am sorry about earlier in the hall. We were just messing around. It was a total accident.” I nod my head slightly as I tell him “Ok, I’m Claire. Since you’re here you can go ask Pam for two copies of the great Gatsby for Mr. Jackson’s class. I will be looking for a book I need for another class.” I tell him before I wander off in search for a recent adventure and a book for my research paper.
“Hi, I need two copies…” is all I hear before turning the corner going further into the library. As I head to the back of the library, I notice the lights back here aren’t all in working order, and some are flickering in and out, making this part of the library ominous and creepy, my steps slow as I hesitate debating whether I really need this copy of mythological creatures of the night. I shake my head, you’re scaring yourself for now reason, just get the damn book Claire. Just as I get the courage to continue on down the lights in this row and 3 other rows go black. I’m surrounded by darkness and although I’m not particularly scared of the dark, I am kind of scared now.
I decided to hell with the book. I will just google it later. Heading back up the row I use my hand to run along the old spines of the books. However, before I even make it to the entrance of this row, I slam into something hard causing a high pitch scream from me. Whatever I walked into scared the hell out of me. “Claire, is that you?” a voice asks me. “Y-yes, who are you?” I am still slightly scared after messing with my head and the sudden loss of lights.
“It’s me Darius. I was wondering where it went. I got the books, let’s go or do you want to chill in the dark some more?”
“Nah I’m good let’s get out of here.” I say as I push around him but before I get around him I get a whiff of the most delicious smell, of chocolate and caramel. “What is that smell?” I ask, feeling embarrassed to be asking that because that means he knows I just sniffed him.
“That’s just me. My turn.” Before I can ask what he means, I feel his nose in my neck smelling me.
“Mmm you smell of warm vanilla.” I take a couple steps away from him towards the entrance.
“Yo, this just got weird, and as much I usually like weird I don’t like it when strangers are involved. So I’ll see you later.” With that I disappear in the darkness leaving Darius alone and make my way quickly through the rows and leave the library. With a few minutes to spare before the second period is to start I head to my locker and put all my things inside. I have Art class next, so I need nothing. Our Art class is in a separate building, so I head over there before the bell rings to get some extra time on my painting.
I walk into the class before the bell rings to let out for the first period and greet my favorite teacher.
“Morning Monique!” I say with a big smile, at my greeting my teacher looks over at me entering the class. Monique isn’t the usual teacher. She’s more of a hippy Art therapy teacher. With long ebony dreads and dark brown skin she looks like a hippy goddess. She has a gold nose ring and gold ear cuffs adoring both ears. She’s wearing a long flowy dress tie-dyed pink dress with a scarf wrapped around her dreads. “Hello dear” she says,
I put on my apron and gather the supplies I will need for my project. I head over to my corner of the classroom, the furthest from everyone, I like to put my headphones in and get to work without distractions or interruptions. Before the bell for class to begin rings I’ve already got everything where I need it and I dive into my Art. I’m not sure how long I’ve been at it but I feel a tap on my shoulder and I glance over at Monique who is studying what I’ve been painting.
“I love the darkness, and the silhouettes. What inspired this?” I look back at my work and see that everything is covered in darkness, there is a clear night sky with a full moon providing the only light. On a hill sits a silhouette of a wolf howling with a man’s silhouette next to it.
“I’m not sure. I just got into the zone you know and lost myself in my work.” I tell her with a shrug.
“Well, it is beautiful! I would like to display it in my gallery if that is okay with you.” I’m floored that she would actually want my art in her shop. “I mean it isn’t finished, but to be honest I’m not sure what else I had in mind for it. It could be weeks before I know that it’s really done or not.” I explain to my teacher, hoping beyond hope that she will wait for me to finish it. It would be a dream to have one of my pieces in any Art gallery let alone Moniques’! She always has people paying top dollar for things in her shop and if someone was to actually like my work and want to buy it, I wouldn’t be hurting so much for money right now.
The bell rings, signaling that class is over. “Claire, please don’t leave. Okay class please quickly put your supplies away and you may leave. Have a good day!” She turns to go help everyone clean up. Since she’s asked me to stay back, I dive back into my work until she’s ready for me. All I’ve gotten down in the five minutes is adding highlights to certain spots on the canvas.
“Wow, Claire, that’s perfect. I honestly do not know what else you could possibly add to make it better.” Monique says as she walks back up to me. “You know what Monique I think I already know, but if you wouldn’t mind giving me a pass for study hall I’d like to finish it. I promise you won’t regret it.” I can see that she will already say yes before she does. “I’ll email your teacher and let her know where you will be. My other class will be here but I know you have no worries about them. Go ahead and get back to work.”
Without further prompting I’m back at my work. By the time I’m finished I have paint all over myself, I giggle to myself and I notice all the silver and black. I can’t remember the last time I was this messy with my work. I take in my finished work and I am beyond happy with it. I have added a smaller silver colored wolf next to the black silhouetted one, and it looks like she is nuzzling into the male. While the man is holding onto a female with a small pond near the base of the hill. “It looks like something out of a fairy tale. Like both the wolves and the couple are in love.” Startled by the deep voice a small scream comes out of me, and I look over and find Darius there with a beautiful smile on his face.
“What are you doing, trying to kill me today? What are you even doing here?” I ask while looking around the class for Monique. Once I’ve spotted her and caught her eye, I raise my hand slightly.
“Well, I’m in this class that’s why I’m here and no I’m not trying to kill you, I’m sorry for scaring you again.” He says with a brief laugh, and I melt at the sound of it.
“Hello Darius, why don’t you go clean up your mess before the bell chimes.” Monique tells him.
“Yes, Ma’am. Claire please wait for me after class.” Darius asks before walking away.
“Well well, Miss. Devron you definitely kept your word! I am highly impressed with your work! With your permission I’d like to put it in my gallery this weekend.” Moniques asks.
“But this weekend is the annual fair, there will be people from all over coming. Wouldn’t you want your work on display for customers?” I ask her, she can’t really be serious.
“I know and that is all the more reason I want to showcase your work! I usually do this with my seniors but more towards the end of the year. However, your work needs to be seen now, not later. Plus, if you continue to paint beautiful art like this I will be more inclined to keep your art on display in my gallery. I’m sure the exposure will be good for colleges right?” She had me there. Although I haven’t really put much thought into college after high school was over, the prospect of getting noticed without having to put much work into it had its appeal.
“Okay Monique, you can put it on display. But please if there are any horrible comments please be gentle with me” I laugh lightly to pass it off as I’m kidding but I am nervous about this. I only ever had my Art displayed in the gym when we would have our Art and Science fair. Never for actual people paying for Art. People who have a real interest in it, unlike the parents who show up just to support their children.
She touches a hand to my shoulder and gives me a genuine smile and says “Claire I highly doubt you will get a single critical review on this beautiful piece of work! I will call for my guys to come pick it up and take it to the gallery by the end of the day. You go on to lunch and have a good day hon.”