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clandestine clear (the dusty classroom)
carson loves the feel of canvas under her skilled fingers, the smell of paint. even the dusty classroom she works in has a sort of charm to it.
she likes bringing things to life, taking thoughts and hopes and dreams and turning them into hope spun paintings.
carson only ever paints in black and white.
more so than the dusty classroom, carson loves the roof. she spreads her arms, feeling wind and exhilaration flooding her lungs. this is her place, where no one can oppress her, no one can push her behind thoughts of medical school and dance lessons.
so carson fails her classes, except for art of course. she knows that everyone is giving up on her. knows that she may be giving up on herself.
but carson likes the feeling of not quite knowing if she will win.
carson has one friend, and one friend only. his name is scott and he shines brighter than the sun. with his ocean eyes and cheeky grin, she has no clue how people can look down on him just for having a boyfriend.
(a very lovely boyfriend, if she might add. his name is archie, and together, they might just be picture perfect)
carson looks at them wistfully, and picks up her paintbrush.
it’s one of those nights, and carson finds herself on the roof of the seven eleven, after paying the owner in gossip about his teenage daughter.
once she climbs the fire escape, she realizes she’s not quite alone.
there is a boy. a living breathing chunk of boy. just him, some double stuffed oreos, and a beat up guitar. he’s dark hair and eyes, and if carson were to paint him he would be all sharp angles and her deepest darkest black.
he glances up at her, and looks back down, a strange light in his eyes as he writes something in his notebook.
“hey.” she whispers, not wanting to disrupt him.
“hello.” his voice is raw and broken. she wonders who damaged him, this dark eyed boy.
“you play the guitar?” she nods toward his beat up gibson.
“you paint?” he nods toward her canvas and her slender artist fingers.
she smiled at him, and they began.
two sleeves of double stuffed oreos later, and she has told him everything. bared her soul. told him about the mother who left her, scott and archie and how they were beautiful, and how she’ll never paint with color.
he tells her about expectations, family traditions, and that he hasn’t played his guitar in two years since his brother got cancer.
morning comes, and they need to leave. carson, being distrustful to the bone, thinks she’ll never see him again.
but instead, he touches her arm and whispers, “meet me here tomorrow, same time.”
scott and archie tease her all day about her dreamer eyes and skyscraper smile.
but the boy, (she realizes she never asked for his name) never shows up. she waits two hours, before sighing and going home.
maybe he fell asleep, she thinks. or maybe, he didn’t want to see you again.
but still, every day, for the next two weeks she is there, chin rested on her knees, solitary smile on her face. after that, she stops going.
carson knows all too well not to waste her time hoping.
it’s a month later, and she only goes back because she realizes that hey, her favorite paint brush? she must have left it there.
when she gets there, he is waiting. dark hair falling into his eyes, which are somehow even more broken and more shattered than before.
“here.” he hands her the paintbrush. his voice is aching, she realizes.
“hey…you.” she still doesn’t know his name. “i waited for you, you know, for a long time.”
she sits down beside him, sees his clenched fists, knuckles pale and scratched, like he got into a fight with a concrete wall.
“the day after i met you, my brother relapsed. two weeks later, he died.”
“oh, oh..” her mind goes blank, because who is she, to think she can speak the language of the tattered boy in front of her?
“jayden.” he snaps. she jumps, and when he speaks again, his voice is softer. “my name is jayden. and his name was jonathon. he was only ten.” and he tells her about jonathon, who must have been made of moonbeams and innocence, and apparently the good really do die young.
“oh, jayden. i’m so..”
“don’t say you’re sorry. it’s not your fault, and everybody keeps saying it.” his eyes are closed now.
“i wasn’t,” she whispers, hand on his cheek. “i only wanted to say, that i’m sorry i never got to meet him.”
he smiles, and it is heartbreaking. “he would have liked you.”
she doesn’t know what to say to that, so instead she goes to her canvas.
carson doesn’t hesitate before she picks up the watercolor set that scott bought her. (you need to live again, carson)
she takes a deep breath before dipping her brush into the blue. it shone like midnight.
so she paints in color, (her hands have never shook like this) and he watches her with something like awe, before picking up his guitar.
his fingers hesitantly pluck the strings, as if he doesn’t know what to do. but he finds a pace that is as beautiful and broken as he is. and when he starts to sing, it’s raw and the only thing carson can compare it to is crying.
when they’re finished, when she’s painted a kaleidoscope of rainbows and he’s bled everything he has into that guitar, the only thing they can do is stare at eachother.
she hands him her paintbrush, still shimmering with purple.
he hands her his guitar pic, chipped and scratched.
in the distance, the sun rises.