Sweet Cynicism

Chapter 19

After school I manage to get Charlotte to give me some money so I take the bus downtown to the art store. I spend over half an hour looking through everything, whishing I was independently wealthy so I could afford all the supplies I wanted. I finally settle on a large canvas, a few new paints, and a sketching pencil.

On the way back on the bus I end up sitting beside the raving crazy person that are invariably attracted to me. This one explains in detail why the apocalypse is coming and accuses me minutely of being from Mars. At first I tell him to "fuck off" at every chance but I resort to the smile, nod, and agree method after he shows me the shiny switchblade him his pocket.

Eventually I get a little irritated so I get off the bus six stops early. The man also gets off and starts following me. I try to tell myself it's just a coincidence, but it only works until I turn down a random corner and he does to.

I begin to walk faster and I can tell from his footsteps that so does he. I come to a forest pathway and speed up until I'm almost running. The gravel crunches behind me and I regret turning into such an isolated area. I should have been looking for a busy street not somewhere quiet where he can fucking dispose of me without anyone hearing my tortured screams.

Halfway along the path I find myself jumping over a wooden fence and crawling away to crouch behind a bush. I pant to myself, resting my head on my knees. When I look up there is someone right in front of me.

"Fuck!" I whisper when I realize it's only Adriel. He looks like he's about to talk so I cover his mouth with my hand and try my best to convey to keep quiet by staring threateningly at him.

Footsteps on the gravel pass by us and once he's out of hearing I relax. Then after a few calming breaths it occurs to me that I am currently sitting beside Adriel with my hand on his face. I jerk away and look at him suspiciously. "What the fuck are you doing here?"

"I live here. What the fuck are you doing here?" He replies.

He lives here? Life is not supposed to be this coincidental. "Oh, uh, I was being followed by this psycho with a knife."

"I see." Adriel appears to be attempting to decide if I am delusional or not. Or may be if I'm telling the truth.

"Can I stick around here for a while?" I ask. I'm still freaked out the man is out there waiting for me.

"Sure you can help me pull weeds." As he say this I realise that he is actually kneeling in a flowerbed with a handful of plants.

"Yeah, sure."

An hour later we finish up and Adriel invites me in to his house. I follow him through the sliding door, which has been left open. I pause in the hallway to survey a line of framed pictures on the wall. At first I don't really get what I'm looking at but then it hits me that Adriel must be native. It certainly would explain his dark hair and eyes.

We continue on our way to the bathroom to wash our hands and then to the kitchen. A woman is stirring a pot over the stove and Adriel reaches beside her to grab two glasses. "Devon, this is my aunt." He says as he pours water out of a jug.

His aunt turns around to shake my hand and regard me with quite a bit of interest. Adriel tells her we're going downstairs and she invites me to stay for dinner. I picture the tofu I saw marinating on the counter before I left and agree quickly.

Adriel opens a door at one end of the kitchen and turns on a light. We go down the stairs to a somewhat finished basement. To the left there is a smaller room without a door and once Adriel walks over to turn on the light switch I realise it is where he paints. An easel is set up in the middle of the room with a canvas on it, and all along the walls are canvases piled up. There are streaks all over the floor and some on the wall and he also has a table covered in jars of paint, buckets of water, and paintbrushes sticking out of a jug.

Adriel looks expectantly at me. "Fuck. I left all my art stuff out in your yard." I tell him.

He smiles, "You can get it when you leave. It'll be fine out there."

I nod. "So can I look at some of your paintings?"

"Yeah sure. Some of them are pretty old so no making fun of them, ok?" We sit down together on the cold stone floor and I begin to flip through the piles. I'm amazed at the sheer number of them. Adriel must either have been painting for a very long time or he must do nothing but paint.

"They're good." I say once we get about half way through.

"As good as yours?" He asks with a big smile.

"Who knows, maybe."


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