I really honestly loved being around him. He was so different, in the best way. He was unique, and fantastic as a whole. But, he was keeping something from me, and it had to do with that stupid locker. I didn’t know how to approach him on it, not yet. I was picking my battles, I was focusing on his future tonight, that scholarship was so important. That had a time limit to sign up, registration was ending very soon. I couldn't give up, I had to give this my all even if it mean he'd yell at me.
“Can we talk?” I asked as we sat in his creative space. He nodded, organizing his paints. We were surrounded by his work, it went up to the ceiling. I loved being in this room, it felt intimate, another world, so personal. He let me in, he let me see the stacks and stacks of drawings, paintings, sculptures, all of it. He shared that much of himself with me, and that was something I had to appreciate. I knew no one but Mrs. Hollas had been in here, ever. I got to be, I got to see the stacks of his works, all of his pastels and charcoals, all his paints and stencils that he made himself. It was so special to me.
“How did you get so close to Mrs. Hollas?”
“Well, I came in as a freshman, really jacked up with my home life. The school knew my father had killed himself, and I had a lot going on at the time in my personal life.” I nodded. “The school immediately thought I was some risk, so they assigned Mrs. Hollas, who used to be a guidance counselor, to oversee me. She said how she was an art teacher, I told her I liked to paint and draw, and we’ve been friends ever since.”
He paused for a moment and thought. "Sometimes when someone commits suicide," he said very softly. "It can cause other people to do it as well. It sets off a reaction. You'll hear about it now and then on the news, one teen will do it, then three more will in the same town, same school. It's something that happens. They were worried I'd hurt myself or others."
"O-Oh," he nodded, staring. I knew he was wondering how I'd process this, if I could handle talking about something as sad as suicide. "That had to have been hard to carry that burden of what other people thought."
"Not really, didn't give a fuck."
I nodded at him and looked around. I wanted to change the subject. "So Mrs. Hollas, she gave you this space to use?” I looked around, seeing the walls painted, stacks of work, it was him.
He smiled. “Yeah, she knew I wasn’t into letting people see my work. Before she gave it to me I'd sit at a desk and stare. I refused to do anything for her. She cleared out this entire room, it was full of her own stuff, and put an easel, dozens of canvases, paints, pencils, everything I could ever need in here without my even asking her to. It took a good year and a half, maybe two before I showed her a single drawing. She was very patient with me. She changed the locks, and gave me the only key to prove that she wouldn’t sneak in here. It helped me trust her even more. She has a copy now, and I’ll leave a note on her desk when I want her to see something.”
I nodded. “I want you to enter an art piece.”
“Harry,” I got up, taking down an incredibly deep piece, I didn’t understand it but you just felt something when you saw it. The blacks, navy blues, touches of white and red coloring made you feel something. It was so intense looking. “This is something someone would go to a museum to see. Why are you counting yourself out? Why won’t you try? You deserve to go to school to enhance all of what you have.”
“Do you even know what the hell that piece is about?” I shook my head, and he took the very large vertical piece from my hands. He pointed. “See this figure, the black outline?” I nodded. “That’s me. Do you see this black hole, the red coming out of it? Think, carefully at what that could mean?”
I studied the piece, now seeing the outline of the little boy. I took in the rest of it, seeing an outline of a taller person, all black, with such a tiny glimmer of white. It was so subtle, painfully beautiful.
“Your heart is bleeding.” I whispered. “Your dad is dead and you’re alone.”
He nodded. “I am not making a fucking dime off his death. You can take that to the bank.” He threw the piece down and stormed out.
I shook, sucking a breath. This was my boyfriend, I didn’t need to be shy, or scared, or intimidated. I followed him out; Mrs. Hollas was more than understanding. I found him in the courtyard under a tree. I came over, sitting on my knees in front of him. He saw right through me. I reached up, and hugged him.