~ I know everyone probably thought I'd quit writing this story. I did too. But now that summer's started, I'm going to write a chapter every week. (I'll try, anyway.) ~
I smile. I just went to the bathroom to check my make-up. My lipstick is perfect. My hair looks good down for once, my mascara is not clumped anywhere—I’m ready.
I walk slightly faster, but then I hear shouting coming from Mrs. Dubaldi’s science class. I look into the room and stop walking, putting my hand of the side of the doorway. Other kids move around me in the hallway—kids going to class or the fifteen minute break we have between first and second period—but I’m watching the little scene unfolding in the room. I see…Cate? Yelling? At…Shawn? Then I see Shawn yell something back, and storm out of the room, looking back at Cate. He doesn’t see me, and he’s moving so fast I don’t have time to react. He collides with me and we both fall to the floor, him on top.
I look up.
“Lissa.” Shawn looks down.
“Shawn?” I ask. “What was that? Why were you in there fighting with Cate?”
Shawn looks away, and suddenly I remember what I was going to do and I am mad at him again.
“Well, if you’re not going to tell me, you might as well, GET OFF ME, you idiot!” I don’t actually wait for him to get off. Instead I shove him off and stand up. He’s still sitting on the floor, in shock that I’d do something like that. I’m done with him. The hallway now clear, I run towards the other end, away from Shawn.
“Lissa!” Shawn calls, finally getting to his feet and running after me.
I start to cry. No, I think to myself, I cannot cry. I am strong, I am brave, I am—crying. Arggh. I wipe my hand across my eyes. My make-up is now ruined.
“Lissa, wait! Lissa? Lissa!”
I keep running.
Shawn is a football player. I am an artistic (read: not athletic) girl wearing ballet flats. Who do you think is going to run faster? Hint: it’s not me.
Shawn catches up to me and puts his hand on my arm. My hand with the blue-painted nails seems small and weak compared to his muscular, thick wrist and big hand.
“Lissa?” he says. “What is it? Why were you running?”
I take a deep breath. I know my hair is messed up from falling on the floor, then running. My make-up is smeared on my face. I am crying. I turn around, sniff one last time, slap him, and run up the stairs at the end of the hallway.
“Lissa!” Shawn calls. “Lissa!”
I don’t look back. I keep running. I hope Shawn got the idea.
I slow my pace to a walk as I enter the art room. I know it sounds silly, but one of the things I love best about the art room is the smell. Paint mixed with paper mixed with water mixed with graphite. I breathe it all in. I’m the only person in the room now; class doesn’t officially start for another ten minutes, but Ms. Ferrera likes us to be early. She’s okay with us being in the classroom when she’s not there.
I need to take my mind off Shawn.
As I work my way over to the sculpture area, where the wire piece I’m working on waits, I see the paintings. They’re all good, an even mixture of abstracts and still lifes and portraits, but one catches my eye. It’s an abstract, only three colors—red, black, and blue—but they somehow blend together, while still staying defined, in a way that’s very pleasing to the eye. I look closer at the painting. The shapes look, to me, like an old man. With a single tear coming from his eye. That’s different. Usually, I just look at abstracts as shapes—even the ones I paint. But this one looks like the artist intended for it to look like that. I really like paintings like that—ones where you have to look at them for a while to understand what they mean. This is the smallest painting on the board—but it still stands out. I think this is one of the best paintings I’ve ever seen done by a student. And yet—it has no signature.
“Do you like it?” I whirl around. Behind me stands an average looking boy with black framed glasses, disheveled brown hair the exact color of Cate’s, and a shy smile. He’s about as tall as I am. He has a thin, wiry frame, and is wearing an olive green t-shirt that reads: “Every artist was first an amateur. Ralph Waldo Emerson.” I smile a little. That’s my favorite art quote.
“Well? Do you like it? The painting, I mean,” he repeats.
“Um,” I say, realizing that I must look terrible. “I think it’s one of the best paintings I’ve ever seen.”
Arty-nerd boy smiles at me again.
“It’s not signed,” I say. “Do you know who did it?”
“That would be Ender Matthews.” he says.
“Oh.” I frown. I don’t know an Ender Mathews. Unless this boy… “Are you…?”
“Yes,” says the boy, smiling again, and reaching to shake my hand. “I’m Ender Matthews.”
“Are you new here?" That must be why I’ve never seen him around.
“Yeah,” says Ender, but he doesn’t say anything about why. Did he move? Well, he probably doesn’t want to talk about it.
“Were you crying?” Ender asks me.
Darn. I knew I should have done something about my make-up.
“Yeah.” I look away.
Ender takes my hand, gives it a gentle, friendly squeeze. I really like this boy, but not yet. I try to distract him.
“Ender, why didn’t you sign your painting?” I ask. I know I’m being nosy and direct too, but I don’t care. I just want to know.
"Are you the one who painted that mural behind the school?" Ender answers my question with a question. Anyway, about the mural…there's this wall behind a grassy area behind the school. I love being back there, but one day someone discovered it'd been tagged by some gang members. My school's in a nice part of town, too. Anyway, the school board made a decision to paint over the graffiti with a mural. They asked Principal Wilcox to suggest someone and she chose me. So I painted this mural. It's all abstracts and yellow and orange and red with some black too. I loved painting it. And I hadn’t signed it.
“Yeah.” I knew completely what it meant. “Yeah, I painted it. And I know why you didn’t sign your painting. Same reason I didn’t sign the mural. You want people to forget…” I trail off. It sounds stupid when I think about saying it.
I looked at Ender. “Forget that someone painted it.”
Ender smiles at me again.
“I know it sounds stupid but—”
“It doesn’t sound stupid,” says Ender. “And if it does? Well, then, I guess we’ll just have to be stupid together.”