Chapter 13 - Carnival

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It was the last day of the semester before winter break, and I was as thankful as you could imagine. I needed space from school, I needed to feel comfortable in the safe environment that was my home. My stutter had been so heavy and prominent, it was stressing me out which only made it worse. I had hoped deep inside I would comfortable here by now, but I still felt unsettled. 

“Finley,” I looked up at my art teacher, Mrs. Hollas. “Can I talk to you about your grade?”

“Uh oh,” I whispered.

“Oh you’re not in trouble,” she sat beside me. “I know full well you dropped in the middle of the year, this is an art class, it’s hard to make it all up. With the end of the year project, still, you might be a little short.”

“I s-suck at art.”

“No one sucks at art,” she smiled kindly. “Look, I wanted to offer you extra credit.”

“What do I have to do?”

“Every year our middle school of our district throws a big carnival, an end of the year celebration for all the kids. I want you to help out with the art booth, a lot of the students who thought they could do it bowed out because some athletics came up and they have other commitments.”

“What would I-I do at the booth?”

“Help keep it organized, it can get messy. Can you paint a heart or a star?” I nodded. “Then you’ll help with face painting.”

“Oh no,”

She laughed. ‘I promise, it’s fun and you can do hearts and stars, it’s not that bad.”

“Well sure, I-I can do it.”

“Great,” she wrote down the time, and where it was held. “See you then Finley.”

Mrs. Hollas got up and left to her messy desk. I took a deep breath, kind of nervous to paint a kids face, that stuff was easily washable though, thankfully. I just didn't want to let some poor, excited kid down because my start looked like a blob. 

After school I hung out at home for a little bit, having dinner with my parents. I drove to the primary school, I felt so big and tall as I walked through the hallway. The walls were all decorated with the little kids drawings, they had their little names on the doors. It was kind of cute, it was so adorable to see how small everything was. It was hard to believe I was ever that tiny. Where does time go?

I walked and entered their massive, massive gym. It was full of life and color, warm colors. It really was a big carnival. There were all kinds of games, blow up houses, prizes. I hadn’t ever seen anything like it, the little kids were so happy.

I was walking, looking for the booth when a little boy ran past, his whole face painted like a real life tiger. I was amazed. Another little girl past me, her whole face a butterfly. I walked around found the booth, expecting Mrs. Hollas to be behind the amazing work, but I was wrong.

“H-Harry," I spoke, coming behind the booth.

He was in fitted black jeans, dark boots, a white Henley that had the sleeves pushed up. His shoulders… they looked really broad. The fabric clung to his strong upper body, the buttons a bit undone at the top to show his chest. He was leaning over in his chair, a tray with all kinds of colors on his lap as he held a little boy by the face, painting an intricate rocket ship on his cheek. You could see the flex of his arms, the strength his back held as he moved, arching over to paint. He glanced at me, and I sat down, wondering what to do.

“What do you think?” Harry asked him, holding up a mirror.

“Whoa! Thank you!” he ran off and Harry sat back, rinsing out the brush.

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