The Love in Art

May 4, 2008
By Amanda Stone, Barrington, IL

“What makes life so pointless is the fact that nobody cares about you. And you have to deal with everything unfair by yourself,” said Dean without looking up from his drawing. He was sitting sideways on his small bed that was against the far wall of his bedroom crammed in-between desks, easels, and dressers. He was leaning on the wall, crumpled over his tattered sketchbook where he was scratching something with jet black ink.

I looked at him from my spot in his swivel chair by the foot of the bed. I liked coming over to his house to draw because he had so much to teach me, but I hated how down he could get about himself.
“People care Dean, your friends do, and I do,” I said back. Secretly I wished he knew the extent that I cared for him.
“Yeah if my friends cared they would have asked why I was gone from school for so long.”
“I think they just thought that you wouldn’t want to talk about it, some of them knew that you were at rehab. They just didn’t want to get you in a bad mood talking about it.”
“No they only care when I complain.” He said, finally looking at me, the blue in his eyes sent chills down my back.
“That’s not true.” I said more to myself now; he and I both knew that I had admitted defeat. There was no winning with Dean. In these situations I usually just hoped that my positive comments would sink in eventually and he would feel less depressed later on.

Dean and I had met last summer. We were both in the same art class. He was so incredibly good at drawing, and I was there because I always wished I could draw. I sat closer to him day by day until I was finally right next to him. I would watch him use the bright paints to make a scene entirely concocted in his head. I loved how he would put the tip of his tongue on the upper right part of his lip when he was painting something small, and how safe his forearm looked when he was holding the paintbrush. The day I finally gathered enough courage to talk to him I was surprised by how easy it came. He was delighted by my company. He was more than giving when it came to him teaching me about art. He helped me in class, and eventually he convinced me to start bringing my class work over to his house on the weekends. It took forever for my drawing skills to improve because I was so distracted. I couldn’t focus as I stood by the easel in his bedroom with him behind me telling me what I should do. When the summer class was over, he told me I could come over to draw whenever I wanted. I took advantage of that and now showing up at his house was almost expected of me. I would come over to draw, and he would use me for a person to talk to.

Things changed a lot for Dean since those days at summer art class. He had his heart broken by an unfaithful girlfriend. I remember in the beginning of the summer he would tell me so much about her, and how it didn’t matter if they had a long distance relationship while she was off at school; they loved each other and that would never change. I also remember that day when I came over, and he was crying because of what happened. I did my best to console him, but they had been together for so long; it would take a lot for the wound to heal. To top things off, his once strong single mother was frail because of the cancer she had been diagnosed with. He had to take her to the hospital, and had to listen to the pain she was in. The whole world was falling apart around Dean and he began to hate himself. He didn’t understand how good people deserve the pain he's been dragged through. When I saw him he was less cheery, and he didn’t trust anyone. He used me as an outlet for his anxiety because he didn’t want to bother his mother with his problems. He was comfortable enough with me to let out the emotions he had locked inside. He was referred to a doctor at the rehabilitation clinic not by his mother, but by an English teacher who had read a note in Dean’s journal that was borderline suicidal. In fact, his mother never even knew he missed school. Dean’s condition did not change the way I felt about him. I knew I was the only person who understood him. I could still see the old Dean in him, and at times I knew exactly how to draw it of him.
So now I sat on the swivel chair and watched him etch away at the weathered willow tree he was drawing. His strokes were long and fast, he gripped the pen tight enough that the tips of his fingers were a fleshy white instead of a healthy pink. His last comment about his friends was particularly eating away at me. He was wrong about it, and I wished he'd stop wallowing. His problems were like a witch’s brew- it’s deadly enough, but he’ll just keep stirring in more ingredients until the cauldron bubbles over.
“And your friends DO care Dean. At school they asked me about you every day you were gone. They wanted to know how I do it- how I make you feel better. They care; they just don’t know how you want to be treated. You couldn’t have a better group of friends. ” I said. I really hoped he’d to listen to me this time.
“psh what have they ever done for me?”
“WHAT AM I TO YOU? “He abruptly shouted back. “A CHARITY CASE? I DON’T NEED YOUR HELP, OR ANYBODY’S HELP! You probably don’t even want to BE HERE! Do you think I WANT you here? YOU DON’T KNOW ME!” He chucked his dense sketchbook at the easel that I had used in the summer to learn how to paint. The easel crashed to the ground and the legs kicked and cracked into all directions.
I was scared by the sounds of his most dear things breaking.
“Dean…I’m…” I squeaked
“Here’s your stuff, you can leave now” he interrupted, shoving my backpack and sketchpad into my hands. I half-ran out of the house and into my rusty gray car. I drove home and I just kept reenacting the fight in my head. Every time it ended with me feeling scared and alone. My eyes stung from crying; I wished it had never happened.

It had almost been a month since the fight, and Dean and I were still avoiding each other. It began to come clear now that my relationship with Dean was over. I lost my chance at the one thing that I ever really wanted. It was now time to get over him. It was a Friday night and I was dressing up to go to a party that I got invited to because I wrote a history paper for a popular girl. I was really nervous; usually I tried to stay away from the party scene. I took a guess at what people wore to parties and I ended up wearing a snow white halter with gold beaded straps, and a pair of fitted black pants. I hoped we weren’t outside at all; winter was a pretty cold season for a halter top.
What I was most nervous about was the boy this popular girl said she’d set me up with. I hoped I’d make a good impression. I walked up to the girl’s house and rang the doorbell. The popular girl opened the door. She looked confused for a second, but then put a huge smile on her face.
“What are you doing here?” She said, loud enough for everyone in the living room to hear her.

“Oh, well you told me to come to a party.” I mumbled back

“What?” she said, I could tell now she was putting on a show for everyone, her eyes were pretty shot from whatever she’d been doing before I got there.
“Yeah, you said that you were inviting Eric and that you wanted me to come,” I said.

“Why would ERIC want you here?” I could see Eric coming to the doorway at the sound of his name. “ERIC DO YOU KNOW THIS GIRL?” she shouted back at him.

“No,” he said with a laugh.

“DO YOU WANT HER NOW?” She said to him, evidently loving the attention she was getting from everyone.

“No,” he said coolly, laughing with his buddies now.

She turned back to me, scanned my outfit, had one little chuckle with herself, and said “I think you were mistaken. I probably said study party; you were going to teach me history. I vaguely remember the Eric stuff now; it was mostly you just obsessing over him though. You definitely don’t have your facts straight. I mean I’d totally let you come in but my parents said that I was only allowed to have 10 people over”
I glanced around and saw at least 20 people in her living room alone.
“Sorry,” she said, and closed the door with me on the step.
By the time I finished the humiliating walk back to my car, tears were streaming down my face. I couldn’t believe that I had wanted to go to that party of strangers, and it was all because I wanted to meet another boy. I got in my car and drove. I didn’t know where I went, or how I ended up where I did. All I could see through my tears was the front of Dean’s house. I got out of the car and walked around to the back door, which I knew was always open, and let myself in. I walked straight into Dean’s room that I had once known so well. The lights were out because it was late and Dean was asleep. He must’ve heard the rustling on his carpet and my unbalanced breathing.

“Who the Hell?!” he sat up in bed and immediately turned the night-side lamp on. I saw his facial expression turn from alarmed to concerned as he looked at me. ”What happened?”

I stood there and all I could let out were sobs. I walked over and crawled under the covers with Dean. I took a risk, but I didn’t care because, honestly, what more could go wrong? I was relieved when his arms took me in; maybe I was finally protected from myself now. I laid there for a while by Dean and just tried to silent my cries. He was patient with me. He was just there, silent and peaceful; stroking my hair away from my wet face with the hand I was so used to watching.

When I finally became quiet, he sweetly whispered in my ear “do you wanna talk about it?”

“no,” I choked.

“okay” he whispered , then he kissed me on the forehead and said “maybe later.” We went back to being silent, and I fell asleep in his arms feeling safe at last.

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