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An Unfinished Work Of Art
I wedged the clay in my hands, taking out all the feelings that were built inside me to ensure there were no air bubbles.
“Hey, hey, watch it there. Don’t mangle the clay,” my teacher laughed.
What am I going to do, stab and incarcerate it? It’s clay.
I laughed along with her. Pretended to, at least.
I watched as she walked away to the kiln, to take out the coil pots we created last week.
Inching away from my table, I stood on my toes, over the heads of freshman (Not only was I the oldest, a junior, I was also the shortest) and watched her carefully carry my heart-shaped pot to the drying table.
I looked at the way the red glaze gleamed in the light, the way I imagined it to be: full of color and feeling and beautiful. Of course, it wasn’t flawless, but as long as it was there, I could live with imperfections.
I went up to it, held it in my hands. I couldn’t believe how long I waited for it to come out. Sure, it was just a coil pot, but after all I had been through the week I was making it, I didn’t think it’d come out well; I didn’t think I’d be able to finish it at all.
He was right across from me. He being someone I’d liked for a long time. He who’d dated a girl who was amazing, smart, and completely gorgeous. He who I knew I’d never have a chance with, never. If I tried? I’m sure it’d shatter me.
I looked at him, really looked at him. The color of his eyes, the way his hair was messy, the clay dust on his shirt. Then he did something I daydreamed about during Physics last period: he looked up at me.
I looked away, and promptly set my coil pot back on the table, planning to walk away quickly. Just as I took a step away, I heard a crash behind me.
It was my fault. It was my fault it all broke apart. I was looking down on it, wanting to cry because it was broken, because it could never be pieced together again.
As I kneeled down to look at the damage I’d carelessly caused, I remembered one time, when I was little, thinking that if something became broken, someone else would be there to pick up the pieces for me. But it was different now. Of course things would be different, they always would be changing.
I picked up the pieces, one at a time. All that I had worked so hard on was gone in one second, one second where I didn’t think. It was just a mistake, just a coil pot. But something deep inside told me it was more.
I remember my first day of preschool. I overheard my parents tell the teacher, “You have to be careful with this one. She can break just about anything.” It didn’t bother me at the time. I was too busy on a swing by myself: pushing myself higher and higher until I felt like the blue sky was just within reach. When it was close enough , I stretched my fingers out, reaching, but gravity suddenly pulled me back down.
I heard someone approach, then kneel in front of me. I looked up, and it was him.
Sometimes you have to take that jump. There are those bruises from back when--those times where you got hurt so bad that you promised yourself never to be hurt like that ever again.
He carefully picked up the pieces, one by one, not in one giant swoop to get it cleaned up. He helped me in a way that he knew how much it meant to me that he wouldn’t just treat it like a stupid ceramics project--it was something I made, something I wanted to turn out the way I hoped it would.
He caught me staring at him again, and said, “It’ll be okay.”
A chance like this comes. A chance to feel whole, to feel new. But then again, it’s a chance, it’s a risk. It’s something that could potentially break you, no matter how many times you’ve been hurt before.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
I opened my mouth a few times to say something, and I finally said, “I… I have to go.”
I stood up and walked out the door.
I paced outside the classroom, but sat down on the cold concrete after a while.
I watched a boy sneak out of his class to meet a girl near a blooming planter box. They exchanged a few words, small words heavy in meaning, and he left her with a kiss goodbye. They walked their separate ways, but not before giving a small glance back to ensure what just happened was real.
Life is nothing without risks, and when you give it your all, it can turn into something amazing. It won’t be perfect, but it’ll be something.
And something is always better than nothing at all.
I turned around. I walked back to pick up, to fix, the pieces I’d left behind.