In The Blink Of An Eye

November 3, 2017
By SAlves, Mashpee, Massachusetts
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SAlves, Mashpee, Massachusetts
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Author's note:

I'm a junior at Mashpee High School and I wrote this as my Term 1 Short Story for my creative writing class! I kind of knew the basis of what I wanted to write but just followed my imagination for the duration of the story! I'm hoping people just enjoy this story and the journey of Alex and Clarissa's relationship.

Beep, beep! “Hey, whatcha doin, man?!” Looking behind at the taxi that almost ran him over, he continued onto Wall Street. Alex Davenport- a young college student who doubles as an aspiring artist- finally had his artwork featured in a show. Today was the big day and to Alex it seemed like nothing could go wrong. His expectations were short lived after he slept past his alarm and was already late for the show. . Now nothing seemed to go right! His favorite coffee stand had what seemed like a school of fish swimming around it, all the city coffee zombies had left their homes at the same time to get their morning java kick. Alex skipped the coffee, knowing there was no way he’d be getting his work in another show if he showed up later than he already  was. The only thing on his mind was getting to the gallery as soon as possible. There’s no way i’m getting there on time, there is no way in hell i’m getting there on time, he kept repeating over and over again as he dodged through the sea of people left and right. The art gallery finally came into view after what seemed like he ran three marathons running block by block through the endless mob of working class citizens. With the slightest bit of hope he had left, he bolted. As if in slow motion, Alex was running that long, powerful run, wind blowing his hair back, then, BAM! He felt a pounding pain on the left side of his forehead. He glanced over and saw a girl, about to fall over onto the ground. He grabbed her hand, counteracting gravity, and kept her standing. Once he regained his focus, he got a better look at the girl. She was tall, maybe 4 or 5 inches shorter than him, had long blonde hair, fair skin as if she was a vampire, and her clouded over, pale blue eyes. Clarissa, he realized. “Clarissa!” he yelled. The girl scrunched her face. “Uh, yes?” she replied looking straight. “It’s Alex!” he exclaimed while bending down to retrieve the girl’s walking stick. The girl relaxed her face and drew a small smile. “What the heck are you doing running into me?” Clarissa says sarcastically. “My art show gig! Speaking of, i’m never going to get another one if i’m late, so I got to go. I’ll see ya later, Lissa!” Alex says while already starting to run away. Clarissa stood, shaking her head and smiling, but continued to feel her way around the street, onto her destination.
Alex dramatically burst through the doors. In fact, it was so dramatic that it got everyone’s attention and they all stared at him. He sheepishly smiled, said a quiet and embarrassed “sorry”, and walked over to wear his piece was being displayed. “What is this painting about?”, “What is the girl looking at?”, “She’s so beautiful, who’s the model” everyone kept asking. Alex continuously told the commentators that it’s a girl with big dreams, looking out into her future, and is simply just from his imagination. He was lying. The girl in his painting was the reflection of a girl he knew. She’s been in his Communications class since their freshman year at Columbia University. He studied her from afar for months on end, not knowing anything about her. When they had their first project, he and the girl were miraculously partnered together. He learned a lot about her. She is an only child, she’s a performing arts major, she plays the violin, she has always been a big dreamer, and she’s blind. She had vascular disease as a baby and lost her sight. They became so close, he even gave her a nickname. Lissa. Clarissa Johnson. The girl so out of his league, he can’t even say his painting is about her. However, he liked keeping her a secret. It was something about the painting that made it special to him and only him.It was around 3:00 pm when the art show was coming almost to a close. Many people had gone up to Alex and told him of his many talents and that his talents would take him far. Considering it was the afternoon and Alex hadn’t gotten his coffee, he became groggy. He could barely keep his eyes open when talking to an elderly lady that he had to interrupt her and get a cup of joe. He stood by the coffee pot, leaning back on the white table cloth. He took a sip of his small cup of black coffee when he felt  a breeze sweep through the room. He heard the familiar clicking and clacking of a particular girl’s walking stick. He turned around quickly, hoping to see exactly who he saw. A wide, ear to ear smile wiped across his face as he walked with his head bobbing over to Clarissa. “You didn’t tell me you were coming.” Alex said. Clarissa jumped at the sound of his voice, him catching her off guard. “Well who do you take me for, an unsupportive friend?” Lissa said with a smile. “No, of course not. How could I ever think of you that way.” Alex replied. Lissa blushed at his kind and effortless words. Alex held out his arm for her to take. Lissa grabbed onto it and they began walking around the exhibit.

Alex told Lissa about all the the creations in full detail so she could try and imagine it to the best of her ability. They wound up at Alex’s painting of her. Alex would never lie to Clarissa, so he described his artwork. “This one, um, this one is mine.” he said with his head down. Lissa took his hand and squeezed it. “Tell me about it.” she said softly, reassuring him. He took a deep breath and began. “Well I used a lot of bright, pastel colors. There’s, um, a lot of beautiful things in this one. Ahem, there’s this… girl in the center. She’s holding a telescope and is facing what looks like a black hole on the outside. Inside it has her dreams and ambitions for her future, things she could only imagine.” he said. He looked over at her. “You look confused.” he told her. “I am.” she said simply. “Well you see, she’s closed off so no one can see her ambitions except her. She keeps herself refined, not to show anyone her true self unless they’re worthy.” he paused and looked at her. Her face became blank. It wasn’t a mean scowl, just flat. Expressionless. Alex was about to go on when Clarissa started, “She sounds familiar.” “Does she?” Alex asks. “Yes.” There was a moment of silence before Clarissa started again. “Who is this picture of?” she asked in a monotone voice. Alex was hesitant to answer, scared of what she might say. “With all due respect and care, you. But only because you’re like a piece of artwork in yourself. You also mean the world to me. You’re unlike any friend i’ve ever had. I know I didn’t ask-” Clarissa cut him off. “Stop.” she says with a laugh. She loosened her grip on Alex’s arm. He looks at her with concern, then sees her smile. “I’m positive that it’s the most amazing painting. Thank you for turning me into something beautiful.” she says lightheartedly. You are beautiful, Alex thought

“Hey!” Alex said with a little too much enthusiasm, slamming his hands on the table. It was Wednesday, 11 am, Communications class. Lissa turned her head to the source of the sound. “I have a free day tomorrow and so I was hoping you’d want to spend the day with me.” Alex said. Lissa pondered over the offer. “I mean, I don’t see why not!” she said with a bright smile. “Okay, great! I’ll plan everything out today, meet you at Joe’s, let’s say, 9 o’clock tomorrow morning?” “I wouldn’t miss it.”
The morning air slapped both Alex and Clarissa in the face as they were making their way to Joe’s, a coffee and breakfast cafe. Alex had left almost 20 minutes before Clarissa, making sure he’d be the one waiting for her and not the other way around. He stood in the brisk fall air, burying his hands into his jean jacket pockets. He passed the time by watching his hot breath fight against the cold air, making clouds. Alex would check his watch every couple of minutes, knowing Lissa is always on time. At the crosswalk, he sees a big golden dog with a bold red vest on. The mutt is guiding a girl, tall, blonde, and beautiful. Alex walks to the end of the crosswalk to retrieve Lissa and her guide dog.
“Hey, gorgeous.” Alex winks at Lissa, even though she can’t see it. Lissa chuckles a little then pushes Alex’s chest. “Stop making moves on my dog, you idiot.” Alex laughs at her remark. They walk over to Joe’s and enter. The smell of chocolate croissants, maple bacon, caramel macchiatos, and espresso beans, overcame their senses. The two inhaled deeply. “Mmmmmm…” they said simultaneously. They looked at each other and laughed. They walked to their usual spots at the bar counter when a waitress came over. “What can I do for the happy couple today.” she said in a perky voice with a wink and a smile. Alex and Clarissa were regulars at Joe’s and everyone liked to tease them, always saying they’re dating and a couple. “I’ll take a hot black coffee and a plate of eggs with bacon and toast. My lovely lady over here will take the chocolate chip pancakes with orange juice. My girl’s sidekick would love a big ol’ bowl of water.” Alex finished. Once the waitress walked away, Lissa hit Alex. “You can’t keep encouraging them! When will the dating scandal end?!” Lissa said in a distressed voice. “Maybe it doesn’t have to be a scandal…” Alex trailed off. “What are you talking about? Who are you and what have you done with Alex?” Clarissa joked. “C’mon. You mean to say you’ve NEVER thought about dating me?” Alex said with fake macho. Clarissa hit him again and laughed. “That would be considered my business.” she said. “I’ll make you a deal.” Alex said mysteriously. “If you don’t fall in love with me by the end of the day, you win. But if you do, you have to go on another date with me.” Alex says. “Another date? When was our first one?!” Lissa questioned. “Right now.” Alex whispered. Right then, their food and drinks came. In the middle of eating her pancakes, Lissa wondered what it would be like if she went through with this deal. I mean, he’s never done anything wrong by her, he cares for her like no one else does. What could go wrong? They finished up at Joe’s and Alex began guiding Clarissa to their destination of today’s adventure.
He brought her to what seemed like an abandoned warehouse. It was dirty, dark, and old looking on the outside of the building. The same went for the inside. There was what looked like a dumbwaiter in the corner of the first room. It was a lot bigger, but had the same mechanisms. “Okay, Lissa, now don’t get scared, but there’s a dumbwaiter that we’re taking upstairs.” Alex said cautiously. “I can’t see it, do you really think i’ll be scared.” Lissa said. “You’re right. This is way scarier for me than it is for you.” Alex said, short of breathe from terror. They get into the modern dumbwaiter and excel onto the third floor of the building. Clarissa, Alex, and the dog exit the contraption. Lissa couldn’t see, but there was an easel with a big canvas set up in the corner of the room by a window with no glass, the sunlight shining right through and into the room. There was a tan tarp with paint splatters on it under the easel with a stool of paints set on it too. “Okay, walk a little bit more.” Alex said. Lissa did as she was told and walked forward. Alex stopped her once she was on the tarp. He grabbed her hand and brushed it along the canvas and the paint brushes. “What are we doing?” Lissa asked with a nervous giggle. “Something you’ve never done before.” Alex said quietly. He stuck his hand in a pile of red acrylic paint and grabbed Clarissa’s arm. The paint mushed onto her arm in a rather unappealing way. She scrunched her face at the feeling of the cold paint on her skin. “What the heck did you just put on me Alex?” she said sternly. “Our activity for the day.” Alex said with a bright smile. He guided Clarissa to the stool to take a seat and tied an apron around her neck to protect her clothes from the paint. “Here.” Alex said as he unfolded her hand. He placed a hair elastic in Clarissa hand. She took it and tied her hair in a loose ponytail at the nape of her neck. Wow, Alex thought, she’s so beautiful. He stopped and stared at her for a moment then carried on with setting everything up.

Alex rolled his sleeves up and snatched his watercolor palette from a bag he left by the easel. “Give me your hand.” Alex said. Lissa held her hand out and Alex placed a paintbrush in it. He held it in her hand and dipped it in a light blue color in the palette then let her hand go. “What do I do?” Lissa asked, clearly confused as to what she was holding and what to do. “It’s a paint brush. Take it and paint something on the canvas.” Alex said. Clarissa’s face turned red. Her arm went limp and her already murky eyes glassed over. “Lissa, wha-what’s wrong?” Alex said in a concerned voice. “Um… i’ve never done artwork before. I don’t know how to paint.” she said in a meek voice. Alex felt a pang in his heart. Art was something that guided him to where he is today, how could someone not be exposed to art? “Well, you can start a new beginning with me.” Alex said. He took Clarissa’s arm and held it up to the canvas. He guided her arm to swipe the brush against the canvas. He wrapped his arm closer to Clarissa, looking down at her to see how she’d react. She lifted her head to face the canvas, her face still a pinkish, blushed color. He continued swiping across the canvas until he took a deep breath and saw their product. It was a hummingbird, something that he thought resembled Lissa. It was soft in color, large on the canvas, beautiful. He let go of her arm, took the brush, and put it on the tray. “Beautiful”, he says. “The painting?” she asks. “You.” he says in an almost whisper.
Clarissa could feel his breath on her forehead. She felt her face burning like a thermometer after being placed in a vat of hot water. She stood up and playfully pushed him away. “Oh, stop.” she said, extremely nervous about how close he was. “Come on, Lissa. It’s amazing and gorgeous! Just like you!” Alex said reaching for her. “Stoooooop.” she said again, laughing and letting him grab hold of her. “Why can’t you ever just let me appreciate you and all that you are?” Alex asked, his voice becoming more serious. Clarissa’s smile slowly dropped. “Um, I don’t know.” she said. “You’ve never once taken a compliment in all the years that i’ve known you. Take them. You deserve them. You’re probably the single-most incredible person i’ve ever met in my life and you never accept my love and caring for you.” Alex said quickly, then realizing what he said. His heart dropped to his stomach. He just confessed his feelings to her. What will she do? Why’d I have to say it? Maybe she’ll just ignore it? He thought. “What was that?” Lissa asked. Alex took her hands. “Lissa, I love you. You are uber awesome and I couldn’t imagine where i’d be without you. You mean that world to me and I never want to see you get hurt.” Alex said. Clarissa squeezed Alex’s hand and gave a smile, tears in her eyes. “Wow, man. Thought you were never going to tell me.” she said with a laugh. “You knew?!” Alex questioned. “Well, I could infer. But, hey. I’m crazy about you too, dork.” Lissa pulled Alex closer to her, into a big hug. They melted into the hug as if it’s the first hug they’d ever had. Everything felt in place. For what seemed like centuries, love felt real and alive again.

What a happy ending that would be, huh? Well, there’s more to the story. The young couples’ relationship blossomed like a beautiful flower in spring. They were in what’s called the “honeymoon phase” for about a month of their relationship, until a very big and unpassable opportunity arose. Alex had been submitting applications for internships all over the country. He got a call from one of the internships in San Francisco as an Art Gallery Intern, informing him of his acceptance into the program. Alex was ecstatic! It was such an amazing opportunity for him to share his art and skills with a community so unfamiliar to him. However, the internship will be for 6 months, full time, all the way across in the country in San Francisco. He just began his relationship with Lissa that he’s been waiting to have since freshmen year. How would she take it? Is he going to ruin his chance with her by leaving? No, he thought. She’s never not been understanding and proud of him for his accomplishments. Why would that change now?

“Hey!” Alex grunted as he flopped onto the couch beside Lissa. She turned her head and gave a simple, “What?”. “I have fantastic news!!” Alex squealed like a little girl. “I’m all ears, dazzle me.” Lissa said. “Well, you know how Prof. Langdon was helping me with some internships? I finally got a call back!” he exclaimed. “Alex! That’s absolutely amazing! I’m so proud of you!” Lissa said as Alex took her by the hand and drew her into a jumping hug. They laughed and embraced, and then Lissa started,” Where is it? When does it start?” Alex’s smile flickered. “San Francisco… next week.” he says. “How long?” Lissa said in a more serious tone. “6 months.” Alex stated. “Alex, that’s a long time. That’s across the country. Are you really going to take it?” Clarissa questioned. “Well, yeah Lis. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. How can I pass this up?” Alex said, disappointed. “Yeah, but, think about how much we’ll grow apart, how much our lives will change without each other. How are we going to get back from that?”, “Lis, how can you even ask that? We’ve come this far since freshman year, why can’t we keep going? It won’t be that bad. Just wait for me.” Alex said back. “You just expect me to sit around and wait for you to come back? What kind of colonial woman do you take me for? Our lives will become different, you’re going to meet new people, make new friends, heck, maybe meet another girl. What happens when something comes up or they extend you internship, I just have to wait longer?” Clarissa ranted. “So what, Lis? You’re the only girl for me, no one will ever replace you. Yeah, sure, I make new friends, but what’s the big deal? You’re the one I’ll come back to. Because I WILL come back. And yeah, maybe I get more offers, but I’ll talk it out with you first. Lis, this is an amazing opportunity, you said so yourself, so why are you freaking out so much?” Alex retorted. “Why am I freaking out so much? Because you’re my boyfriend and you’re leaving for 6 months, why shouldn’t I be upset? I’m going to be here, alone, for 6 months!” Lissa cried. “Lissa, I do so much for you all the freaking time, why can’t you just let me have this.” Alex said in a calm voice. “I never asked you to! Maybe if you never gave me the attention you did, we wouldn’t be having this fight!” Lissa yelled. Alex kept trying to grab hold of her and calm her down but she kept fighting and pushing him away. “Lissa, calm down. We’ll work this out. It’s fine. I’m taking this job and we’ll only get stronger from it.” Alex said. “I can’t believe you’re doing this.” Lissa scoffed. That was the last straw for Alex. “Well ya know what Clarissa? I’m taking this job and i’m leaving next week whether you like it or not! This is insanity that you’re so against this! I can’t believe you’re only thinking about yourself in this situation when you’re not even involved!” Alex yelled as he collected his belongings and left the room with the slam of a door.
Clarissa was stunned. She couldn’t believe what just happened. Alex was right. She was being selfish. She should have been over the moon for him, no doubt. She was being an unsupportive friend, and girlfriend. But was it wrong for her to be upset? He was going to be gone for 6 whole months on the complete opposite side of the country. That’s reason to be sad, right? She took her cane and threw it across the room. She slouched down in front of the couch and started to ball. It felt like she was drowning in sadness. She can’t even remember the last time she was this sad. What should she do? How can she make this better?
The rumbling of the plane taking off made Alex’s head buzz and feet fall asleep. It was 5 am and his flight to San Francisco was a go. He wasn’t very happy though. His fight with Clarissa still hung over him like chains weighing him down. He tried hard to be happy for himself, but if the person who meant the most to him wasn’t, he couldn’t be either. He knew he was doing the right thing for himself, taking the internship. He just couldn’t get over the fact he’ll be away from Lissa for 6 months. It’d be good for the both of them, he thought. He’s getting experience, a start to a new life, professional exposure. Clarissa would get independence, something she’s struggled with most of her life. It’s good, Alex repeated to himself, it’s good. Before he knew it, the warm sun soaked into Alex’s skin. He exited the plane to feel a whole new atmosphere. Everyone had that happy-go-lucky attitude, kind of like Alex. I’ll fit in here just fine, Alex thought to himself. The last thought Alex had before he walked over to his taxi was he can’t wait to see Lissa when he gets back to New York.

“Hey!” Alex grunted as he flopped onto the couch beside Lissa. She turned her head and gave a simple, “What?”. “I have fantastic news!!” Alex squealed like a little girl. “I’m all ears, dazzle me.” Lissa said. “Well, you know how Prof. Langdon was helping me with some internships? I finally got a call back!” he exclaimed. “Alex! That’s absolutely amazing! I’m so proud of you!” Lissa said as Alex took her by the hand and drew her into a jumping hug. They laughed and embraced, and then Lissa started,” Where is it? When does it start?” Alex’s smile flickered. “San Francisco… next week.” he says. “How long?” Lissa said in a more serious tone. “6 months.” Alex stated. “Alex, that’s a long time. That’s across the country. Are you really going to take it?” Clarissa questioned. “Well, yeah Lis. It’s an opportunity of a lifetime. How can I pass this up?” Alex said, disappointed. “Yeah, but, think about how much we’ll grow apart, how much our lives will change without each other. How are we going to get back from that?”, “Lis, how can you even ask that? We’ve come this far since freshman year, why can’t we keep going? It won’t be that bad. Just wait for me.” Alex said back. “You just expect me to sit around and wait for you to come back? What kind of colonial woman do you take me for? Our lives will become different, you’re going to meet new people, make new friends, heck, maybe meet another girl. What happens when something comes up or they extend you internship, I just have to wait longer?” Clarissa ranted. “So what, Lis? You’re the only girl for me, no one will ever replace you. Yeah, sure, I make new friends, but what’s the big deal? You’re the one I’ll come back to. Because I WILL come back. And yeah, maybe I get more offers, but I’ll talk it out with you first. Lis, this is an amazing opportunity, you said so yourself, so why are you freaking out so much?” Alex retorted. “Why am I freaking out so much? Because you’re my boyfriend and you’re leaving for 6 months, why shouldn’t I be upset? I’m going to be here, alone, for 6 months!” Lissa cried. “Lissa, I do so much for you all the freaking time, why can’t you just let me have this.” Alex said in a calm voice. “I never asked you to! Maybe if you never gave me the attention you did, we wouldn’t be having this fight!” Lissa yelled. Alex kept trying to grab hold of her and calm her down but she kept fighting and pushing him away. “Lissa, calm down. We’ll work this out. It’s fine. I’m taking this job and we’ll only get stronger from it.” Alex said. “I can’t believe you’re doing this.” Lissa scoffed. That was the last straw for Alex. “Well ya know what Clarissa? I’m taking this job and i’m leaving next week whether you like it or not! This is insanity that you’re so against this! I can’t believe you’re only thinking about yourself in this situation when you’re not even involved!” Alex yelled as he collected his belongings and left the room with the slam of a door.
Clarissa was stunned. She couldn’t believe what just happened. Alex was right. She was being selfish. She should have been over the moon for him, no doubt. She was being an unsupportive friend, and girlfriend. But was it wrong for her to be upset? He was going to be gone for 6 whole months on the complete opposite side of the country. That’s reason to be sad, right? She took her cane and threw it across the room. She slouched down in front of the couch and started to ball. It felt like she was drowning in sadness. She can’t even remember the last time she was this sad. What should she do? How can she make this better?
The rumbling of the plane taking off made Alex’s head buzz and feet fall asleep. It was 5 am and his flight to San Francisco was a go. He wasn’t very happy though. His fight with Clarissa still hung over him like chains weighing him down. He tried hard to be happy for himself, but if the person who meant the most to him wasn’t, he couldn’t be either. He knew he was doing the right thing for himself, taking the internship. He just couldn’t get over the fact he’ll be away from Lissa for 6 months. It’d be good for the both of them, he thought. He’s getting experience, a start to a new life, professional exposure. Clarissa would get independence, something she’s struggled with most of her life. It’s good, Alex repeated to himself, it’s good. Before he knew it, the warm sun soaked into Alex’s skin. He exited the plane to feel a whole new atmosphere. Everyone had that happy-go-lucky attitude, kind of like Alex. I’ll fit in here just fine, Alex thought to himself. The last thought Alex had before he walked over to his taxi was he can’t wait to see Lissa when he gets back to New York.



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