The Meaning of Beauty

February 17, 2009
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It was a beautiful autumn day as I breathed a listless sigh. It was yet another day in the endless stream of my life. It was just another day at Westwood High.
I could help but feel trapped, sitting here on this cold, metal desk, listening to the teacher explain math equations that were like a foreign language to me. I mean if I had to be unpopular, couldn’t I at least be smart?
There are people who have looks, people who have brains, and then there is me. I have neither; I couldn’t solve an equation, let alone a simple question to save my life. All of my qualities point to one thing, a loser.
Not just any loser, not someone who is just thought a loser by someone else, but somebody who is destined to be nobody. That’s me. Fifteen years old, James Helen.
It’s only the second month of school and all of my hopes of being somebody have been completely dashed.
“James.”
I continued to stare out the window admiring the foliage.
“James.”
The color that blended together on the nearby oak tree was amazing.
“JAMES!” The teacher’s yell jolted me out of my euphoria.
“Yeah?” I asked it coolly like I didn’t know what he wanted.
“Answer the question.” I knew why Mr. Daniels had called on me; I was this afternoon’s entertainment.
“Sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.”
The teacher’s face contorted to loathing. He loved his work passionately and hated slackers just as passionately.
“Okay then, you can come in after school today for a private lesson.” He smiled cruelly and then turned back to the board to make yet another impossible math equation.
I sighed again. I could hear several other classmates snicker behind me.
I’m a loser, and I always have been…and always will.
* * *
Just after class, being that it’s the last class of the day, I exited the Algebra room to put the books that weigh tons due to all of the grief that they have already caused me.
I was walking with a hasty step to get to the locker that was on the other side of the building. However, I kept my eyes glued on the scenery that was just outside the window. It was beautiful, but yet when I gazed upon it, there was always something missing.
And then, my feet froze. I saw her. She was a pale-faced, brunette girl about my age sitting just below the tree I had always stared at during the grueling hour of algebra. A few locks of hair drooped from her head as she gazed down at the small, blue book in her lap. The sun was at the right angle in the sky to send the tree’s shadow over her small figure. A slight breeze picked up, allowing leaves to slowly drift to the ground around her.
I ripped open the binder in my arms and pulled out a lone sheet of pure white paper. And before I knew it, I was gliding my pencil over the surface. I weaved lines upon lines together, creating a silhouette of the girl and the tree, and defiled the white sea with shades of black. And not before long, I had finished.
“Beautiful.” I muttered, saying it as if it really meant something for the first time. Yet, I couldn’t figure what made it so much more so than all of those that came before it.
I stared down at what I had done. I had made a photograph of graphite on the sheet in front of me. It seemed…whole. Like I had found what was missing, the tree didn’t seem so lonely anymore.
And…neither did I.
I placed my accomplishment on the window ceil to admire my handy work and unintentionally locked eyes with the girl. She had seen me; she had seen me see her. I panicked and fled down the hall. Because…I had seen something I shouldn’t have for the first time and…I’ve felt something I shouldn’t have as well.
I had seen the meaning of beauty and I had felt whole. And…I liked it.
The drawing was left behind on the sun-stained light of the window ceil.





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