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It did not go as planned, but I was not shocked by the lack of results I produced. Almost the end of the class and I had a series of mindless strokes of varying shades of red. Granted, this was not meant to be finished in one sitting, but I had to create a basic starting point for the remainder of the week!
On occasion, though, I would glance over at Yukio. He was completely focused, painting like he had been training his entire life to do so. When I examined it, I saw that he placed the red panda in a lonely cave. Yet, on one side of the painting, it was raining violently while the other side was bright and sunny. The red panda only saw the rain, not once bothering to look around and see the light. I sighed. I couldn’t produce something like that even with motivation.
Suddenly, he stopped moving his hand and caught me staring. I choked, making a weird sound in the back of my throat. However, rather than appear annoyed with me, he smiled softly and gave a small wave. I returned the wave, awkwardly might I add. He pointed at my chest, making me instantly confused. Noticing this, he made a gesture similar to grabbing something dangling from his neck. Oh, my necklace.
I tapped my charm and he nodded, confirming my suspicions. “It’s pretty,” he whispered.
“Thank you,” I said back.
“Nice.” Quick and to the point. Honestly, I was glad. Smiling, he picked up his brush again and continued painting. Okay, I had to admit, it didn’t help that he was excessively handsome. I couldn’t tell if he was quiet due to shyness or by choice, but it made him come off as mysterious and cool.
Finally, I managed to look away from him. I had to do something. But my attention was drawn elsewhere. I glanced over to Lily. To my surprise, she wasn’t moving either. I couldn’t tell if she had painted at all or just staring like me. Maybe she was done? Her expression was incredibly grim, unfocused, and bleak. Was she really okay? This had been getting worse continually for years.
Dr. Fiennes walked behind her and whispered something in her ear. She jumped at his sudden presence, but smiled as he spoke to her. He was pointing something out on her painting and she was nodding along. She looked happy getting his help. I mean, who wouldn’t be? He picked up one of her brushes and drew something. She watched intently and nodded. Whatever she was struggling with, she figured it out. Moreover, she must have had at least something on her canvas. Mine…well, at least there were colors.
Just as soon as Dr. Fiennes finished helping her, Nicole raised her hand and motioned him over. I almost busted out laughing when I saw him very clearly roll his eyes so far back that I thought he would have pulled something. He went over to Nicole who began chatting at normal volume. Anyone listening to their music didn’t pay attention, most others just ignored her. She was quite proud of her “spring day of red” inspiration from the stuff toy sitting on a stool in the middle of a classroom surrounded by equally, if not more, talented students. It was as ridiculous as it sounded.
Nevertheless, Dr. Fiennes gave her some pointers on how to make the strokes a bit broader, maybe even gentler at the same time. The color scheme, though lovely, was probably just a bit more extravagant than it should have been. Naturally, Nicole defended this by stating she wanted to stand out. Dr. Fiennes, once again, rolled his eyes, but kept up a cheery demeanor. I respected that.
Finally, he broke away from her and continued his rounds. Eventually, I had to accept that he was going to get to me and have a few choice words. Not that I could blame him. I attempted to continue the painting, but nothing came to mind and I couldn’t bring myself to just do it either. I sighed and placed the brush down. It was hopeless at that point.
No surprise, he came up behind me, completely skipping Yukio, and leaned over my shoulder. When I glanced down, I could see the tips of his tattoo peeking out from his sleeve. If I remembered correctly, it was a rhododendron, a beautiful flower I could never actually pronounce out loud.
Whispering, he said, “You know this class is mostly based on participation, right?” It came off as a joke, but I also knew there was a hint of truth to it.
I groaned. “I’m sorry,” was all I could say in response.
“Struggling to find inspiration?”
“A bit. I’ve been struggling with a few things lately,” I admitted full-heartedly. “It’s not that I don’t have ideas, it’s just…”
“Getting them on paper?”
“Yea. I’m sorry. I know I could be doing better.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, Saige. No one can force an artist to work. But you know you don’t have to produce your best results in these sessions, right?”
“But I don’t want to produce the bare minimum either,” I countered. I sighed heavily, my frustration beginning to take over. “I just don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m really sorry.”