Through His Lens (edited version)

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The girl with the pearl earring

'Nice work Eve.'

I pulled my headphones out of my ears as I smiled up at my favourite teacher. Art is my best subject so I'd been praying I'd have a good teacher that understood my work when I started here and thank god, I got lucky.

Ms Stevens, i.e. call me Helena, is exactly the kind of art teacher I loved.

'You don't think it's lacking a little colour?' I asked standing back and criticising my own work.

'How about you keep it neutral but add in faint colour as if to look like flecks of dust or disbursed light.'

It was like a light bulb had gone off and all these ideas flew into my head.

'Yeah I like that!'

'So, how are you getting on with the nature parts in the background?'

'Good but I feel like I need some more ideas. I'd go for walks around local places here but I still don't know the best areas yet. I'm waiting for a day when one of my friends is free to show me around.'

Helena looked deep in thought for a moment before speaking.

'Let me speak to my photography students. They go out into the local areas all the time, I'm sure they've got some good recommendations.'

She patted me on the shoulder encouragingly and moved on to the next student.

I got up from my stool and moved across to the other side of the classroom where more supplies were. As I was deciding which paints I wanted to use my eyes caught on to an abstract painting of a desert scene. It was filled with aboriginal symbols and had a wavy sheen that gave the effect of heat actually coming out of the painting itself.

The girl sat behind it was giving it the same expression I had been giving mine 10 seconds ago. Her petite frame was hunched over as if she was trying to remain as invisible as possible.

I'm not going to lie; this was my second art class and I hadn't noticed her before.

'It looks amazing like it is.' I interrupted. 'Don't over analyse it or you'll end up doing what I do when I add too much and I ruin it.'

The girl's grey eyes looked up at mine with a wide almost scared expression. Ever so slowly though her features softened and she gave me a small smile. She didn't reply to me though.

'It's aboriginal right?'

She cleared her throat and nodded at me practically whispering so quietly only mice could hear.

'Yeah that's right.'

'That's cool. How did you get into it?'

She was still looking at me like I had two heads but I could see that her whole demeanor had relaxed. I guess she wasn't used to strangers speaking to her.

'My mom studies ancient languages so she always has books and drawings laying around the house. I guess I just got inspired by that. My only problem is I don't know how to get others to understand the meaning behind the paintings.'

I thought for a moment, looking at her painting once more and then back at her.

'Well, everyone will have a different interpretation to it. I think it also depends on the mindset of the person looking at it. One person might see tranquil and another empty lonely space. I guess if you wanted to though you could create some sort of key with the meaning behind most symbols. That way they can take that knowledge and come up with the message from that.'

I suddenly realised I'd been rambling for too long and she'd been too silent. God maybe I got a bit too geeky with her.

'Just an idea though.' I added holding my hands up in defense.

'No I love it, that makes perfect sense. Thanks.' She gave me a full smile this time whilst pushing her glasses up her nose with her index finger.

'You're different to how I thought you'd be.' As soon as the words were out, she clasped a small hand over her mouth as if she was trying to push them back in.

I laughed and wrinkled my nose. 'God what did you think I'd be like then?'

'No nothing bad! It's just you've made friends with all the popular kids so you never know really. I shouldn't have said anything, sorry.'

So I was right, Taliah's friends are the 'popular kids.' It's almost laughable how different my school life is here so far compared to what it was at home.

I wasn't at the bottom of the food chain or bullied or anything like that but I was comfortable in the middle hardly being noticed. I had a good group of friends but I didn't like going out too much. A wild Friday night for me used to be an Indian takeaway and catching up with a reality tv show. Now I'm friends with the popular kids. Get me.

I didn't catch myself in time to stop myself snorting unattractively.

'Don't be silly, you don't need to apologise. Are the popular kids not very nice to you then?'

'Oh no no Zara, Taliah and that whole group really are nice. I don't speak to them that much but I've known them for years. They're the good ones. There are others though that aren't so nice.' She started twiddling her thumbs so I decided to drop the subject as I didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable.

'So, go on tell me. What's the old rumour mill saying about me?' I wiggled my eyebrows earning a laugh from her.

'Nothing bad really. People are just intrigued by you. Some say you're really part of like the royal family but you were banished. Or that you're an undercover secret agent. The majority though are guys thinking you're hot and girls worried that you'll steal their boyfriends. Can you tell we don't get a lot of new students?'

It's funny how different she was now that she had a little more confidence in her to what she was two minutes ago.

'So pretty cliché then. Apart from the royal family and spy part. 1. If I was a royal, I wouldn't be wasting my time here with peasants and 2. I would be a badass spy if I do say so myself.'

She flicked some loose ringlet curls over her shoulder as she laughed.

'I was rooting for the spy part.'

The rest of the class went quickly after that. I went back to my seat and finished off my painting and before I knew it class was over.

The girl from earlier practically shot out of her seat as soon as the bell rang which meant I had to squish past groups of people just to catch up with her.

'Hey I just realised I never asked your name.'

She looked surprised to see me still talking to her but she was as friendly as she was before.

'It's Paige.'

'I'm Eve.' I replied.

She laughed, scrunching her nose up slightly.

'I know what your name is. I think the whole damn school does.'

We chatted for a little while as we walked to the cafeteria until we were interrupted.

'Hey Evie.' Natalie strode up looking happy to see me.

I said goodbye to Paige and turned my attention to the girl in front of me. I hate to admit it but I was quite jealous of how beautiful she was. The girl didn't have a single hair out of place, it was actually quite remarkable.

'Hi Natalie, how're you?'

'I'm really good thanks cutie. Tell me are you enjoying your first week at an American high school?'

'Surprisingly better than I thought it would be, so far anyway.'

'Good! You're still coming to my party on Saturday night aren't you?' She said eagerly as we stopped in front of my usual table. Literally 5 minutes after I left Harrison's table at lunch the other day she'd texted me with her address.

'I think so, although I haven't got a clue what to wear.'

I never go to any kind of gathering that involves me having to dress up more than jeans and a T-shirt but since I've been living with Taliah and Lindsay they've made it their mission to make me fashionable. Every morning I've had an outfit layed out for me so I knew I didn't really have to worry about it at all.

'Well you've got more than a few admirers so you could wear a trash bag and I'm sure they wouldn't care.'

Before I had the chance to respond she turned her attention to our eavesdroppers.

'You guys are coming on Saturday aren't you?'

The whole table nodded in agreement which obviously satisfied her as she squealed in excitement and excused herself.

'God you're so annoying.' Zara said whilst trying to be fake angry with me.

I sat down in the seat next to her confused at her sudden outburst.

'Why, what have I done?'

'Well it's taken us years to get invited to one of Natalie's parties and that's only partially because Taliah's Harrison's cousin. We're the only kids in our year to be invited. Yet here you are, the chick that waltzes in like the queen of fricking England and she gets an invite straight away.'

'You're making a bigger deal out of it than it is. It's probably because I live with Taliah that she feels obliged to invite me.'

Jennifer gave me a look like I had a few screws loose and patted my hand.

'Trust us, princess up there doesn't feel obliged to invite you to anything. She'll have her reasons for inviting you.'

'In a bad way?' I ask whilst trying not to feel stupid for trusting a girl I'd only just met.

Zara shook her head which comforted me slightly.

'I don't think so. For the most part Natalie's cool but she does like to get involved in people's shit.'

I tried to imagine what she'd be trying to get involved in but I really didn't know. I'd only been going here for a few days so god knows what I've got myself into without even realising.

'You two should come over to ours Saturday night.' Taliah exclaimed like she'd just come up with the best idea ever.

'Then we can all get ready for the party together.'

Zara and Jennifer agreed excitedly. They all turned to me expectantly waiting for my input.

I've never liked going to parties. I'd been to two in my time and both experiences left me wishing I'd just stayed at home but I'd told myself I had to make an effort here though.

'God just put them out of their misery would you. One parties not going to kill you Evie. Live a little!' Nora said whilst rolling her impatient eyes at me.

'Ok fine but you're going to have to decide everything for me because you know I'm rubbish at this stuff.'

They squealed in response and starting planning the night in detail. I don't think the good old, I'm sick routine will get me out of this one. I'm might have to do some serious googling when I get home to see what disease you can contract in a day.

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