I am not hiding behind my canvas; I am living in it. -
Sundays in the park with George
The symphonic rock decoupaged over the hum of a busy computer tower. Bright lamp light showered the desk. Curtains opened to a dreary dull evening.
Esther, history book balanced in her lap, chatted idly with Ro; PaintingtheROsesRed. She sighed and once again glanced at the paper minimized to half screen to make room for the chat; the other half glowing with the chat box and list of contacts. The grey contact of Munin denoted he or she was offline. Trying to focus her fingers hovered over the keys as she read the next historic paragraph.
The trill of an incoming chat.
Esther jumped, the history book clattering to floor and sliding on under her desk.
Message from new contact: SimonSays would like to chat.
Esther frowned but clicked the accept YES.
SimonSays: Hey. Its Simon.
SimonSays: I suppose that was obvious.
Giggling Esther wrote back.
Little_Dove: A bit.
SimonSays: I got your IM fro Ro.
Little_Dove: I rem. What’s up?
SimonSays: Studying for earth science. I need a break. You?
Little_Dove: Trying to catch up on history. Math next.
SimonSays: If you need any help Im pretty good at both Im in accelerated courses.
Esther sighed at the history report of barely a paragraph.
Little_Dove: I may do that.
PaintingtheROsesRed: Uh Hello? Saturday at my place or yours?
Little_Dove: sorry. Simon just messages me.
PaintingtheROsesRed: Well. About time.
PaintingtheROsesred: He ask you out yet?
Little_Dove: its not like that
SimonSays: are you busy?
Little_Dove: Oh, no. sorry. Ro was messaging me.
Munin went green.
Esther’s breath caught.
A new chat box opened.
A knock dislodged her from the potential chat.
Esther, frantic, hit the minimize button the the chats and the maximized on the history paper.
“Come in.” She bent down to get the book.
Monica opened the door wearing purple scrubs. “Still studying?”
“Yeah.” Esther snatched the book by the binding and was too hasty to rise. She hit her head on the bottom of her desk.
“Ouch! You ok?”
“Ugh...yeah.” Esther closed her eyes a moment.
Monica chucked. “Well I thought I would bring up some brain food before heading out.” She proffered a tray of cookies and steaming mug. Esther could smell the spicy hot chocolate as her guardian set the tray on the edge of the desk. “Careful it doesn’t end up on the floor.”
“I'll do my best.”
“The cookies are those cinnamon ones you liked from that bakery we found on 8th.”
Esther took a cookie and a bite. She covered her mouth to talk with it full. “Yeah. These are really good. Thanks.”
Tinkling, tinny laughter.
“What? Are they the wrong ones?”
Esther scanned the ceiling down the window sill. “No...no they are good...Just I thought…” A heavy almost sinus headache feel settled over Esther.
Good. Good. They are...NOT GOOD!
Esther swiveled in her chair towards monica. Light danced duly around her head. An irritation filled Monica’s eyes.
“Thought what?” Her gaze flicked to the screen. “Are you really working? What’s that?” She pointed.
“Uh. Yes.” Esther moved her chair closer to the computer.
“Esther…” Monica sighed.
“I just needed a break.”
“Yes I thought you did so I brought the cookies.” Monica gestured in irritation to the plate. “But it looks like you aren’t working at all. Damn it Esther.” She crossed her arms. “I need a break too, you know? I’ve been running doubles for so long I am seeing the same junkies come in.” A hand went to her head. “And here you are after weeks of therapy not taking anything seriously and chatting with what; some boys?”
“I'm talking with Ro!”
“And Simon? I’m not stupid Esther.”
“No I just--”
“After all this what would Sherri…” The lights above her flickered, Monica blinked. Her hand came down as if she were astonished it had been raised. “I…” She frowned. “I am so sorry.” She shook her head. “I have no idea why I said that. Any of that. Sherri and John would be so proud. Are so proud. I know they are.” She briefly ran a thumb over Esther’s cheek then straightened.
Esther chewed her lip a moment. “It’s ok. No, really. You’re stressed. I get it.”
Monica tried to smiled. “You’re right. I am still sorry. Just get some work done, ok?”
Monica opened the door. “And drink the cocoa before it gets cold.”
Esther glanced at the ceiling as the door shut, scanning the white texture. The fairies were gone and the heavy feeling she tried to ignore while Monica talked. She sighed.
“Oh crap!” Esther lurched to the chats.
SimonSays: I have a pretty good grasp on history. At least British. And I know the dates of the war.
PaintingtheROesred: I have a test to study for. Later!
SimonSays: But I could let you be.
She clicked the green flashing box of Munin.
Munin: It’s influence.
Little_Dove: Like at school. You washed it away.
Esther stared at the wavy dots indicating Munin was typing.
Munin: You figured it out.
Esther glared at the screen.
Little_Dove: It wasnt that hard. But those things I thought you got rid of them
Munin: In a way. They are still connected to you.
Munin: Not exactly.
Little_Dove: Then what?
She stared at the text box, willing the typing entry to start.
Munin: Not yet. Sorry.
Munin is offline
Esther slid back into her chair. “Of course not…”
Simon’s chat box blinked.
SimonSays: Need any help?
Esther took a breath and leaned forward.
Little_Dove: Yeah. I have US history part 2.
SimonSays: Been there. What do you need?
A bleak morning throng buzzed along the train station.
Esther stood back from the turnstiles, thumb tracing the transportation symbol above Holon’s name, nails against her own pass stacked below. The flow of people slowly increased as the 8am commute hit. Her eyes scanned the people in slow sweeps as she leaned against a pillar, people streaming around each side of her.
Her back lifted from the pilar, eyes alert. A snap of gray military coat, the shoulder lines with black buttons.
Just say--What? I’ve been thinking about you since last night? That's not creepy at all. Her courage rallied, stamping down the negative intrusions. Just say hi. Its that simple. Dont over-think it.. Reach out and--
Her hand grasped the arm firmly so not to loose hm.
"Holon! H--" A pale boy, dark freckles dusting his face and red hair plastered to his forehead by a beanie, turned.
Esther's grips darted backwards. She stopped dead. She saw the confused face a moment before the force of the crowd speed it away like a drowning current.
A patchwork of dark hair caught her eye but when she drew nearer the lack of blue tent convinced her not to touch his shoulder. The PA dinged the new arrival and Esther let herself be shuffled onto a car with the thick weekday crowd. She held onto a handrail as the subway trundled away beneath her feet.
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