Monday, October 13, 2014
First Five Pages Workshop - Smith Rev 1
Name: Laura Gross Smith
Genre: YA Contemporary
Title: Before the Time After
“Are you coming?” She asked, “Mars to Maia…is anyone in there?”
“Sorry,” I said, “Could you wait while I clean this up? Just where are we going again?”
Life is made up of a series of before and afters. Before I learned to paint with oils, I thought that acrylics were my only option. It is amazing how just a little bit of turpentine can change your life. It was a cold October Tuesday in my junior year when I met her. I happened to wander into the art room early to finish up a large canvas I was working on. It was an abstract of a Mayan Temple I had just seen in a picture for my World History class with Dr. Jarvis. I was unwrapping my paints when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, startled to see a tall blond girl dressed all in black, except for pink high top Converse sneakers. She had bright fluorescent green highlights and an overabundance of eyeliner. Her cherry red mouth smacked pink bubble gum. Straight out of an 80’s movie.
“Um, sorry,” I had said, not quite sure what she wanted from me. At my old school in Boston I could disappear, no one bothered with me at all. But mom just needed to move to Vermont. It felt as if this school had fifty kids total, not the 1500 I was used to. “Am I in your way?” At that moment she smiled this goofy grin at me.
“Is that yours?” She asked this while pointing to the bright gold and purple blotches that smeared the canvas.
“Uh, yes,” I stammered, not sure where she was going with this questioning. “Mr. Taylor wanted me to try painting a larger canvas.”
“It’s really freakin’ cool,” she said, “”how’d you get that shade?”
She pointed to a particularly tough shade of eggplant that took me an hour to get just right. I, of course ended up running out of it, and pulling out my already thin hair trying to duplicate it the second time, in a larger quantity.
“It took me a while, but it’s a great color. Reminds me of the sky just before the sun starts to come up. It took forever to get it right.” I turned a bit, blushing.
“My name’s Blaze,” she said, “although my parents didn’t actually name me that when I was born. They called me Jennifer Marie. Talk about boring. Where can you get with a name like Jennifer Marie except a Country Club? I think they wanted me to become a debutante, or tennis pro, but shit on them; here I am making sculpture from rusty metal car parts. They almost died when I told them I wanted to go to Boston College of Fine Arts, said I would end up in a trailer, with a cigarette hanging out of my mouth and a screaming kid on my hip. I told my dad to fu, I mean screw himself. Sorry, trying to watch my language. I have a college interview coming up in three weeks.” She spoke so fast I had to really pay attention to her words. I was still amazed that she was talking to me. “You want to go for McDiarrhea when we get out of this hellhole?”
I usually spent my time hanging out in the art room playing with oil paints. I tended to stay clear of most of the other kids, I don’t know why; I just wanted to be left alone with my canvas, feeling the cool paints beneath my fingers. I get sucked into a picture and lose myself, which is a great skill when you are in high school. The pressure was on to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life. Me, I know, but that doesn’t mean that the parents are pleased with my choice. The words starving artist has always been a mantra recited frequently in my house. Pamphlets for law schools have been mysteriously arriving in the mail.
So at lunch I always grab my brown bag and hike it to Mr. Taylor’s art classroom. He’s a typical art teacher, messy hair, black jeans and button down shirt, slightly frayed at the edges. Maybe he’s not typical, but what do I know. Freshman year for some reason I signed up for art, dipped my brush in the first jar of cerulean blue tempera paint, and I have never been the same since. See what I mean about before and afters. Before I was lost, without any idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated and after I am an artist. The moment the brush touched the paint, altered my life forever.
The temple stared at me and I absentmindedly swirled the eggplant on my brush. “Oh Maia, Mars to Maia.” Why did she want me to go with her? Probably because there were only eight kids in the Junior class, give or take fifteen. Mom just had to move to the sticks. I just nodded my head, as she said, “Great, I’m parked out back, I’ll drive.” And that was that, she turned on her heel, so to speak and all I saw was a green striped ponytail heading out the door. I became the version of me after I met Blaze.
The rest of that day went by in a blur, chemistry, pre-calculous, and finally the bell rang. I made my way to the rear of the school, near the parking lot and scanned the crowd for a shot of green. I spotted her after a few minutes and made my way over to a 1973 Ford Mustang in mustard yellow. The bumper hung down a bit in the front, and she caught my stare.
“Deer tried to run me over,” she said, “get in. Hope you like classic rock, can’t help it, the only thing my parents did right was to introduce me to some really freaking good music. Brother’s in a band too. Hope you aren’t a Kelly Clarkson girl, you will definitely hate this ride.”
She spoke so fast I wasn’t sure if I was confident about her driving abilities, but was too scared to say a word. I still have no idea why I came, I could have stayed after and worked on the painting.
“When do you have to be home?” she asked me as she turned the radio on, and I jumped as Metallica blared through the speakers.
So close, no matter how far
couldn’t be much more from the heart
forever trusting who we are and nothing else matters.
She reached for the dial and turned it down. I still had to shout to be heard over the song. “Five o’clock,” I yelled. Metallica droned on,
Trust I seek and I find in you
every day for us something else new
open mind for a different view
and nothing else matters.
We made our way down route 5; my hands clutched the seats, my knuckles were probably white. She drove like a crazy woman. Still wondering why I was there, why she wanted me to come along with her, I prayed for the ride to be over soon. ..