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Faces In The River

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I stared hopelessly at the blank sheet of paper in front of me, propped up on my easel. I watched the other students in the class concentrate, their hands covered in charcoal. Nothing came to mind. I was tired of drawing the same old things. I didn't want to draw another face, or flower vase, or picturesque landscape. I wanted to draw something meaningful, something where when you look at it, you see something more, you feel something. I traced a line on the paper, and then scrubbed it out, sighing.

Before Owen had come crashing into my life, I had been content with drawing a lake, or a dog, something ordinary. Before Owen, I had been accepted to Rhode Island School Of Design.

While Owen was here, I drew nothing but him. In different poses, with different expressions. While Owen was mine, I had inspiration. I knew what I wanted to draw every time I picked up a fresh sheet of paper.

But when Owen left, my life crumpled around me. Bent and disfigured like the drawings I hated. When Owen decided to leave, he left me with all the sketches of him I had drawn. Intentionally leaving me with more memories than I could handle. He had taken them from my drawer and hung them on my walls. On my ceiling. I couldn't stand seeing the paper imitations of his face, reminding me that I would never be able to touch it, to feel his scratchy stubble against my palm again. So I ripped them down and dumped them in the river than ran behind my house. I watched the lines of ink and pencil run and smudge, as the pieces of paper floated down the line of rushing water. I was angry, my rage and sadness taking my body over. Weeks it lasted, and I dreamt of rivers full of faces. When it subsided, nothing but a dull ache took it's place. After Owen, I had no will to draw. I wasn't satisfied with the same old things I had always done. After Owen, it seemed I had lost my spark. It made me angrier, and I found an addiction in blame. He had ruined me. His fault. Owen had stomped all over my heart and so rendered it's ability for creativity completely hopeless...


A click of heels brought me back to the class I was sitting in, and out of my memories. I looked up to see the face of my uptight teacher, staring down at myself and my blank paper. We were so much alike, that paper and I. Both blank, both void of emotion, and both marked. Me, marked with the unique wounds Owen had given me, and the paper, marked with smudges from my frequent erasing. The teacher frowned and walked away, her heels clicking again, and I wondered how someone so bitter could ever claim to be a great artist.

I groaned, and put my head in my hands, just waiting for an idea to wiggle into my brain. I didn't really expect that one would, they never did when you wanted them to. But suddenly, and taking me completely by surprise, I had what my English teacher once called an "epiphany". I vaguely remembered us doing a paper on the things. It was filling me up, rising up inside me, and I realized I'd been spending all my time composing love songs in my head for a boy who didn't deserve them. I realized that muses came and went, and Owen didn't have to be mine anymore. Instead, I remembered an idea from a book I once read about drawings. It told me to take inspiration from the things inside you, memories, dreams, anything your soul can provide you with.
I looked up, and seeing that I still had 15 minutes of class left, sat up straighter and fumbled around with my materials. My charcoal flew across the paper like it never had before, making lines I had no conscious control over. It felt good, like reading a good book you always loved, but haven't picked up in a while, or going to see a really great band live.

When I was finished, I looked at my page. I had drawn a long, winding river that seemed to hop off the page. In the river were pieces of paper, floating and breaking apart. On all the papers was a face with no features, a face no one could possibly recognize, because it wasn't anyone in particular. It may not mean anything to anyone else, but it meant something to me, and as I packed up my things and walked out of the class, I felt satisfied. It symbolized the floating away of bad memories, letting my feelings of hate and incapability drift farther and farther away.

I felt it's power as I loaded myself into my car, buckling my seat-belt, and I smiled for what felt like the first time in months. I realized I had been a zombie, dwelling in puddles of the past, letting Owen take over my life. I chuckled at the irony. He wasn't even here and he controlled me still. I took a deep breath, pretending to harness the power of the drawing, and I felt myself start to live again.




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