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Train Tracks

Thea:

A perk of living alone for me is not the ability to throw parties whenever, it’s not being able to do whatever you want, for me, it’s the opportunity to not have to sneak through windows or having to lie about where you’re going when you want to go somewhere. You don’t get questioned about a backpack of spray paint or the black clothing you’re wearing.

So tonight, at two in the morning, I simply walk out the door holding my black backpack of spray paint and walk down the street. I know I may look like a runaway to any outsiders. But where I’m going, I consider home.

I walk through the city, past dark and empty shops, under yellow street lights, through alleyways that may have seemed scary if I didn’t do this almost twice a week.

Eventually, I came to the edge of a national park. It’s normally closed this early, but there are no security guards to reprimand me as I duck under the chain that ‘blocks’ the path.

The leaves and sticks snap and crunch under my feet as I follow the path and take the first turn right. A little way down and I take the next turn left.

It’s not known to many people, but at this point, there’s a clearing just beyond the thick part of the forest.

When you go in, it’s just a large space, no trees, no bushes, just grass, and dirt. I think a few years back it was supposed to be an area for a park or house or something. But now, it’s just a grass space surrounded by trees.

But that’s not the important part.

I walk across the clearing and back into the woods on the other side. Through the woods, it comes out to a train station platform. I walk along the side of the tracks until I come to what I like to call “project central.” it’s my place, the place I come to work on my projects.

It’s not private, anyone can walk by and see what I’m making. It’s why I come here in the cover of darkness. The tracks aren’t abandoned, sometimes I’ll see a train go by or people walking around at sunrise. But by then, I’m just a girl walking home. Not Thea the artist, or Thea the shy girl, just Thea the girl walking back to her quiet life.

I place my backpack down and survey my project. I was never sure what to make, but when I first came across this place last year, I made it my mission to make something big.

So far, I just have a dark blue background that fades out darker and darker until it’s seemingly black. Unlike most people at school, I listened to what the art teacher has to say. Thinking about it, I understand what she was talking about when she claimed ‘black doesn’t exist’ in art. You always mix it with something else to create a color close to black, but never quite.

I suppose it’s because black would swallow up the rest of the colors, it’s unnatural and doesn’t exist. It’s always created with another color. I suppose when they say black is the product of all colors, it makes sense.

So the background fades in from dark, almost black, blue, to a seemingly white, light blue. In the center, I’ve put a large moon. Mystical colors and clouds form around it, to give it a magical glow. The clouds give it a mysterious vibe, they give it texture and liveliness that I knew the picture needed.

I stand and look at it for a while, seeing my vision as I want it. I plan to create the moon overlooking calm waters, the colors will match those of the sky with a simple technique to create the reflection in the ripples. I want stars to contribute to the magic vibe the picture gives off, and I want sparkles, glitter, whatever you want to call it, to follow in a trail behind the butterflies I plan to make. I will make the butterflies in the same colors as the landscape but used in a way to make them seemingly transparent.

A giddy smile covers my face at what my mind has come up with, excited for it to come to life. However, I take a glance at my watch and I notice the sky starting to lighten, the darkness coming to life.

I place my paints back in my bag and shove my paint-covered hands in my pockets as I make my way back down the platform.

I sigh out the cool air and feel the slight chill of the wind as it picks up around me. I glance behind me and can faintly hear the sound of the approaching train.

With that, I take the turn back into the woods. I stand just by the line between the tracks and trees watching as the front light of the train gets brighter and brighter.

Each section of the train flies past me, the surrounding wind making my hair fly wild. The train comes to a screeching stop a little way down the tracks at the platform.

Not many people walk off but the ones who do are tired or distracted. Most likely travelers, not many people use the train especially this early unless they’re coming or going from somewhere far.

I watch as people stumble and rush off the train and away to their lives. I watch a mother with a screaming child walk down the platform, presumably upset about it being so early. My lips twitch in a smile watching them.

The mother looks tired like she has had too much coffee and is now crashing. Her hair is messy, her clothes wrinkled, as she desperately tries to smooth them down and pull her stubborn child to wherever she’s going.

It’s not the unfortunate circumstances that I’m smiling at, it’s the pureness.

This is life, the exasperation, the frustration, the anger. There is no hiding, just living. This scene is raw life, pulled straight from the bone. There is no perfect picture. Even if this woman wins the lottery and her child becomes Instagram famous. There is no denying the hardships underneath it all. These feelings don’t just disappear.

I swing myself away and walk back into the forest, through the clearing, and back into the street.

With the soft light coming over the horizon, the world around me begins to stir. Shops begin to open, people walk around the street getting their coffee, people rushing to work or getting their dogs out for a walk.

I tuck my chin closer to my chest and focus on the steady beats of my shoes. The weight of my bag on my shoulder, the feel of the cool air entering my lungs.

I focus on my surroundings to hope to dull the pain of entering an empty house.

The hollow sound of my feet hitting the stairs as I run up to the door, the jingling of my keys as I fumble to open the door, and the eerie, dull, silence that I’m met with as I enter.

I used to get tired from my lack of sleep, it used to mess me up badly. But now I’ve gotten so used to the sleepless nights that my body just naturally runs on “battery power”.

I’ve got just enough time to change my dark clothes to a white knitted sweater and jeans, wash my hands and pick up my school bag before I have to turn back out the door and walk down the street to school.

I run my hands through my hair in hopes of straightening it out before getting to school. I hadn’t had the chance to wash up, so I can only hope I don’t look like a complete mess.

As I approach the steps up to school, I hear my name being called. My head turns in the direction of the familiar voice and I smile at Connor who comes running up to me.

“Hey, how are you?” he asks as we enter the school and into the chaos of the halls.

I smile and fiddle with the strap of my bag. I was glad to get some painting in last night, it’s always been an escape for me. A way to clear my mind and focus on the task at hand. Whether it’s creating a new world with people of your creation, or making something more abstract, getting your emotions out in the world, it’s my way of expressing myself.

Hoping people will see it and understand. Understand themselves.. or me.

Of course no one would guess it would be me, overspilling with emotions, wishes, dreams. But sometimes I wish someone would come to me and say they understand why I do what I do. But that’s never happened and it may never. Before yesterday, I was alone. No one at school to see, no one at home to go back to.

Hell, stranges hardly look at me. Just mumbled apologies when they end up bumping into me when they overlook me.

That’s why I found it so strange when I met those guys yesterday. It’s like when I saw Ethan, he saw me.

And now here I am, with people who talk to me and seemingly want to.

“I’m pretty good, thanks. How was your day yesterday?” I question him

“It was nice, I felt like it would be a good day to just hang out and be calm. I went out to wander in the forest. It was peaceful” he sighs and I smile.

“That does sound nice”

I’m pretty sure the forest he went to walk in is the same one I wander through to go paint by the railroad. I’m tempted to ask if he’s seen the work painted there. It’s not like I’m trying to spill my secrets or gain compliments for my work. I’m happy staying anonymous, but walking down there, it’s like an adventure. There are so many things to see, ranging from the dark, murky waters of a swamp to the starry sky illuminating through a bedroom window. It’s certainly a sight to see and for some reason, I have this nagging piece of me that wants to share an interest, it’s so weird to talk to someone. It’s like taking a drug and now I’m hooked. I just want to talk and share and think out loud to the ones willing to listen.

I’m not sure what to do with this restless energy of needing to talk, but I don’t want to scare the ones brave enough to talk to me.

“Do you enjoy being outside much?” I ask

He nods his head enthusiastically “yeah, the fresh air and natural surroundings helps..give me clarity”

I get the feeling. When I paint, it’s one of the most freeing experiences I have. It lets me put out my emotions and thoughts, sometimes ones I don’t even realize I have.

I nod at my thoughts “I understand”

He walks with me to my locker and looks questioningly at me when I kick the spot on my locker to make it open. I shrug with one shoulder as I gather my things for my first class “it’s always been that way, slightly stuck and needs the extra push to open”

He nods in understanding as his eyes move over past my shoulder to Benny as he makes his way towards us.

When he finally makes his way through the crowd, he lets out a harsh breath “I swear the crowds get worse every day”

I shut my locker and turn to face Benny. “They’re usually this way, people just lose motivation to make things functional for others. No civility these days″ I roll my eyes noting how true the statement is.

I shake my head and smile at him “hey Benny, how was your day?”

He purses his lips as we make our way to our first period “wasn’t ideal, but sometimes that’s how life is right?” Even through his joke I can see the unhappy look in his eyes, however, I don’t push it and just nod.

I do get it, those days that just seem harder than others, the days where things get worse and worse or you can hardly find time to smile.

We enter the class and I take note of the lack of people who decided to show up. I sigh and just place my bag on a table closer to the back as both Benny and Connor take the sides next to me.

I duck my head and smile at the thought that they want to sit next to me. It’s an electric feeling, having friends, is it always like this? I kind of wish I made friends sooner.

Luckily the teacher comes in for class and begins telling us about the new unit we’re starting: literary theory

A round of groans go through the room and while I usually am okay with most things we do in school, I can’t help the groan I do in my head.

I remember touching on literary theory last year and it confused me to no end. Now we have to do a whole unit on it and I am not looking forward to it.

I take a glance at Benny to see him look at me and he pouts dramatically making me giggle, his face brightens at my laugh and he winks. I quickly turn my head in hopes of covering my blush from meeting his stare.

When I look at Connor, he’s looking down at his notebook making doodles of what I’m assuming is just whatever comes to his mind. However, his mind and hand seem to be in different places, his mind seems to be wandering, far lost in the depths of his mind as his pencil draws almost absentmindedly.

It’s quite fascinating to watch until my attention is snapped back to what the teacher is saying when she calls my name.

I look up trying to keep my face cool but I can’t help the dread from building. If she asks a question based on literary theory, I’m screwed.

“Can you tell me what literary theory is?” she asks me in what I’m sure in a knowing voice

My hand comes to fiddle with my necklace around my neck as I look around the room as if the answer will appear somewhere on the walls “uhh..” I look back to the teacher “no”

A few people in class snicker at my answer but the teacher just nods sharply once “please pay attention next time and maybe we can avoid wasting time”

I glare down at my paper. This was not my fault, she called on me and asked me when she knew I wouldn’t know. Superiority can be blinding.

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