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The Art of Flirting Through A Lense (Pt. 1)
I turned to a blank page and stared hard. Really hard. I tried to make the pile of pears in front of me transfer to my sketchbook. It didn’t work. I knew I would have to take out a pencil eventually, no matter how big of a fuss I made or how much I wished I wasn’t there. I chewed on my lip. A whole summer, wasted. A summer spent not by laying out poolside, but by sitting in an air-conditioned room painting. And drawing. And doing other time consuming things people considered “art” in this confining art camp.
I knelt down to my bag to get out a fancy, art pencil. And the lunch bell rang. I was indebt to the lunch bell for saving me from giving up the fight and trying to draw. This camp was my only option other than being a counselor at KiddieGalore! or going to prison. Excuse me, Boot Camp. It was called ‘Boot Camp’, but it was definitely prison. You wore uniforms, slept in cell-like “dorms”, and were forced to do activities much like those used in modern state prisons to help “reform” you. Nuh, uh. No way. So here I was at Clefton Art University. In their pre-college program. Being in this program was the weirdest thing that had ever happened to me.
First, they had to practically drag me out of the car. ‘They’, meaning my parents. After that, I spent orientation with a bunch of art freaks. Surprisingly enough, only a very small percentage of the 120 students had Mohawks. Seriously. So far, I had only seen one remotely normal person despite her pink denim jeans and bleach-spotted black shirt. Her hair hung across her shoulders in an almost perfect line of symmetry. She stayed away from the crowd of strangely assorted high-school kids clutching what looked like a sketchbook. I hoped maybe I could be friends with her, for the sake of retaining my sanity.
I navigated through the halls with loud and dramatic Excuse me’s and Coming through’s. While I was here, I wanted to be as annoying and dramatic as possible. For the time being, anyway. Until they call me in to the office and tell me I can go home. That day, I will be proud. Things started to change perspective for me a day later. When I met Eli. He seemed normal enough: taller than me, dark hair, dressed normally, seemed normal; the only thing was that he seemed to like it there. At Clefton Art University. Drawing and painting. And doing other artsy things. Collages, sculpting, you-name-it. If there was a sign up sheet, he was on it. Except for Photography.
At first, I couldn’t help but ask myself, Why isn’t Eli in PHOTOGRAPHY? It’s like, easy A!!! (Even thought we don’t get graded.) And then I thought about it. What if Eli was taking pictures one day and he saw something bad happen like his brother kill himself through the camera lense? That’s the worst way to see something or What if Eli got hurt one day by a camera? Like, what if he cut his hand on the battery door thing and had to get stitches? It was the weirdest sensation, thinking that your I-Don’t-Care attitude is working and then wondering about someone. It’s kind of like actually caring. Wow, would Jules (my guidance counselor) be proud.
I went back to thinking about Eli when the center of all my hope rang. My cell phone. The only thing connecting me to the outside world. I picked it up,
“Trift Lokey!” The sound of my name jolted me out of Eli-land. I was still mad at my parents for naming me Trift. Seriously?
“This is she. Who’s calling?” I nervously bit the tips of my nails. Bad habits don’t always necessarily start when you’re young. I was picking up nail-biting from all the artsy freaks. Around here, it was common practice.
“This is your boyfriend! Luke. Remember me?” he joked. Oh. My boyfriend. I kind of forgot I had one.
“Luke! Wow. Sorry, this place is terribly loud. Couldn’t really hear your voice from all of the noise,” I bit my lip. Another common habit in Art-Land. What is up with all this biting?
“So how’s Clefton? Haven’t been there since John and Suzie graduated.” Luke’s older brother John and his fiancée Suzie graduated from Clefton. I reminded myself not to say anything bad about it.
“Clefton itself is great! I’m just not doing well. You know, not the artsy type and all,” I faked enthusiasm and disappointment at my lack of artistic abilities. Faking emotions came easy to me. How else do you think I could handle all my friends? I was the most popular person at Trenfield High. Now that evoked responsibility in which skill was required. And I had skill.
I chatted with Luke a little longer about the Clefton gallery. Yes, John and Suzie’s art is on the 3rd floor, No, I don’t think they would allow me to bring back a painting as a souvenir. I checked my text messages while walking to my dorm and was listening to my voicemail when I walked right into Eli. If he was the same height as me, someone could’ve lost a tooth.
“Ohmigosh! I am SO sorry. Are you ok?” the words came from me like word vomit before I realized I was abandoning my I-Don’t-Care attitude. Because I totally didn’t care, right?
“I’m fine. Next time you’re on your phone, you should think of all the innocent people waiting to get stampeded by a girl on her cell,” he replied with a smile. His smile was drool-worthy. He didn’t look nerdy or art-freaky at all. Eli looked like he would’ve been Teen Royalty at Tren High. Dark hair that could be flipped (the perfect length), muscular but not too muscular. A king. No, make that MY king.
“I definitely will think about that next time. My name’s Trift,” I said, extending my hand.
“I’m Eli,” he took my hand and shook it.
“I know,” my brain was swamped with girly thoughts at the fact that our hands had touched.
“What?” his quizzical expression awoke me from my dreams as I thought of a quick escape from this awkward discussion.
“Oh, did I say that out loud?” I asked nervously. “I know who you are because we’re in the same drawing class. We sketched pares this morning?” He looked relieved that I was not a stalker. I mentally sighed.
“I would love to see your sketchbook sometime, us being in the same class and all.” Eli’s words automatically made my brain un-sigh.
“Oh, uh, sure. Sometime. Later. Some other day. I have to get to the dorms,” I sputtered while taking steps back.
“Definitely,” he said and continued walking the way he was headed when I first walked into him. I knew what I’d have to do. Actually participate. My brain worked up a plan as I ran up the stairs and closed the door to my dorm.
I looked at the clock. It was 12. I didn’t have classes until 2:30. I took a deep breath and got out a pencil. With one last glance at the clock, I began to draw.
Two hours later, my hair in a messy bun and my fingers smudged with all the colors of the rainbow, and even colors not in the rainbow, I looked at my work. Wiping the sweat off of my forehead, I finally let myself take a good look at my sketches. They didn’t suck. In fact, they didn’t seem half bad. They actually seemed, well… good. My pares that had supposedly been drawn that morning appeared real and full of color. I took a deep breath and closed the book, grabbing my bag and exiting the dorm to find some lunch downstairs.