Hey folks. No flash fiction for you at the moment, just another piece of story from Last Days of Loneliness, the YA horror novel that I’ve been working on for a while. Here’s the most recent piece I posted. I think I’ve rewritten this scene about five times now, but this opening for it just came to me while I was lying in bed last night, so I had to give it a try. Enjoy!
I don’t really want to talk about Mr. Picket, but not talking about him would be way worse. He deserves better, deserved better, than that.
What is there to say?
Mr. Picket was probably my favorite person in Loneliness. He’s the reason why I didn’t try to … why I didn’t keep staring at the knives in the kitchen quite like that. After he died, I guess I had too many other things to worry about. But I shouldn’t talk about that just yet.
I met Mr. Picket on the second day of school, and had no idea how awesome he was going to be. That first class was terrible, boring the whole way through, and it wasn’t until he called on me to speak with him after class that I got my first glimpse of what he was really like.
I was standing in front of his desk, unsure of what to do while he smiled up at me like there was nothing wrong at all. He was tall when he was standing, and had his long dark hair pulled back into a ponytail, and I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t been staring at and sketching his cheekbones basically the entire class. He also definitely looked like he worked out. His hands flitted around while he spoke, shaping whatever he was discussing at the moment. Just then they were folded on the table, like a bird at rest.
“Amanda, right?” He kept smiling while he said it.
I nodded, anxiously tapping the toe of my sneaker on the floor.
“Do you still have those figure drawings that you were doing during class?” He looked like he was asking for a present, his hand rolling elegantly at the wrist. I nodded again, and he continued, “May I please see them?”
What the hell, right? My art teacher wanted to see the sketches that I made during class, which should sound pretty normal. Except that I was supposed to have been doing other things instead. I’d gotten bored of making my plasticine monkey and its banana within the first few minutes, and as soon as I’d finished I’d switched to more interesting things. Like sketching my classmates making the horrible blobby little faces that they all seemed so obsessed with, or, uh, sketching Mr. Picket while he walked around the room. I fished in my backpack, pulled out my slightly mangled sketchpad and tossed it down on the desk.
Mr. Picket unfolded several of the pages, smoothing out the creases that they’d acquired in my pack, and kept on smiling. I shifted my weight again, tapping the other foot. I couldn’t figure out why he’d want to see these things for the life of me.
“Amanda,” I was taken aback by the tone of his voice. It was warm, he sounded like he was happy, and I couldn’t imagine why. “These sketches are simply wonderful!” He looked up at me again, “I’m sorry, I thought you must have been bored with the sculpting project,” his eyes gravitated back towards the page, “but I didn’t say anything because you kept yourself busy with other art. This is lovely!” He was pointing at a quick sketch I’d done of Richard Mayhew, stretching in the middle of working with his clay.
I blushed. If he noticed, he didn’t say anything. And I don’t think he realized that I was embarrassed about having been caught drawing Richard.
“Ooooh, fascinating,” he’d gotten to the pictures of himself. “Yes, I do walk like that, don’t I?” He stared down at the page, then tried mimicking the posture of one of his hands I’d drawn before nodding, pleased. He looked up again, and his smile had gotten wider. “You’re quite excellent at this, Amanda.”
“Uh,” I swallowed my surprise, “thanks.”
“I take it you’ve done this a great deal, have you not?” His right hand lightly swept the page of my drawings.
“Yeah,” I shrugged, thinking for a brief moment of the hours I’d spent staring at my sketchpads, “I guess. I like it.”
“Well.” He closed the sketchbook, carefully straightening all the pages that I usually let crumple. “It doesn’t make much sense to just leave you with the usual class then, now does it?”
I stood there like an idiot, not sure what to say. I glanced around the room, looking again at all the supplies that had been stashed away here and there, ready for the students. I could get out of having to do the boring class projects? I could do my own work, the stuff I wanted to do? “No, it doesn’t.”
And just like that, I got to meet the real Mr. Picket.
“Awesome!” He stood up from behind the desk, his hands fluttering in excitement ahead of him. “This is going to be great. I know, I know, I’m taking up your lunch, and I’m sorry, but come back to meet me after your last class, and we can set up something for your schedule that will let you do more than just the run-of-the-mill dull stuff that you’ve already covered.” He said that last bit with a confidential smile.
I couldn’t help but smile back. “Thanks.”
“Don’t forget to take your sketchbook,” he picked it up and handed it to me, “and I want you to brainstorm a set of projects that you want to work on, things that you’ve been meaning to do but haven’t found time for, or things that you’ve wanted to learn but haven’t had access to. Okay? See if you can have something to show me by the end of the school day.”
I nodded. I’d just gotten homework to do during the middle of the school day, and I was happy about it. I walked out of the classroom feeling like I’d just stepped into a dream.