(Have you ever just had to rewrite something random and cliché?)
The Art of Refusal
The walls seemed to rust under the humidity that hung in the room making the wallpaper peel. Dorian, with eyes half-opened, gazed up at the brown ceiling fan covered in yellow dust as it slowly circulated the hot air. His body, particularly his legs, felt sore and ached as he moved his head forward.
"Ouch." He winced and looked to his right seeing the sleeping form next to him. Her name was April, a dark brunette from school who was currently resting on his hair.
Perhaps having a pleasant dream, April rolled farther away from him giving him freedom to fully survey the room. Not to his surprise, a second female rested over his legs. She too was a member of his art school and was awake tracing the light blond hairs below his knee. She grinned at him tilting her head in a cute manner and said in the tiniest of voices, "Good morning."
Dorian shallowly smiled and whispered back, "Good morning."
Despite the darkness and vehicular noises bellowing outside a window to the far end of the room, it was indeed morning as the digital clock on the nightstand struck 2.
The girl at Dorian's feet who went by the name of Lacey partially rose from the bed sheets exposing nothing but a pair of pink panties. Crawling on her hands and knees, she advanced towards Dorian in a lazy manner. "Did you have a good night's sleep?"
"Yeah. Kinda. It would have been better if the air conditioner was working." He wiped his damp forehead as Lacey straddled him and leaned in for a kiss.
"Well I wish I could cheer you up."
"I'm not depressed about it." He leaned forward to kiss the girl again when a low snore rose out of nowhere.
The noise came from a boy who was lying at Dorian's right. With his arms used as a pillow, the male with jet black hair laid on his stomach mumbling names in his sleep.
Lacey ran a finger over the boy's back following a tribal tattoo that ran from the base of his neck to the small of his back. "Poor Derrick. He never seems to dream about anyone but us. I guess it's nice to be considered a fantasy."
Dorian smirked. "How do you know he's not having a nightmare?"
"Because no one moans like that when they're having a nightmare."
By 4 o'clock the foursome was completely awake and crowded around a small, rickety table to eat their exquisite breakfast of McDonalds. The sky had morphed to a dark brown color hinting the definite possibility of rain.
Dorian set his orange juice aside as April found herself a seat on his lap. "School starts in a few hours, what do you want to do?"
The boy shrugged and ate his pancakes quietly. He snuck a few glances at Derrick who was perched on the window sill watching the streets like a crow. Little did he know both the boys wished they had cameras to capture the beautiful portraits they saw.
Lacey came out of the bathroom wiping her hands on her jean miniskirt and approached the black-haired boy wrapping her dainty arms around his neck.
"Hey guys, why don't we get out of here? It smells and I'm getting bored."
"I agree." April sighed fixing her bra straps that intertwined with her tank top. "Let's go walk the streets."
"Hey yeah! I like that idea." The blonde female perked up.
"Then it's settled."
Dorian's eyes fell back down to his pancakes and he felt April tugging mercilessly on his arm. His breakfast was never finished.
Dorian kept his mind occupied as his friends goofed off at his side. He liked to replace his current moods as well as those around him with colors. Most of the time, he considered himself a gray or a blue with Lacey being orange, Derrick sharing gray and April being black.
On the surface they all seemed to be the closest of friends but in reality Dorian did not consider any of them as true friends. Maybe Derrick was one when he wasn't hitting on him.
The four had only met each other about two and a half years ago in an art school foyer. They were all interested in the same things so they naturally got along. Dorian was a lonely guy and often wished for someone to talk too. Now he wished things were back to the way they once were.
Weeks after the friendship started things took a turn for the worst-high-fives turned into hugs, hugs turned into kisses and kisses turned into full blown sex. Dorian didn't even remember how he got so willing to cooperate. He figured because it felt so different and good that he didn't question where April or Lacey or even Derrick was planning on resting their lips on him.
A sudden wave of melancholy fell over the artist and he gazed lazily at his friends who howled and barked into the darkness. Derrick was unusually animated and made obscene gestures at every car that passed by.
For the most part, Dorian felt saddened because of Derrick. He wasn't even sexually attracted to Derrick and vice versa. He remembered one night when the group was playing 7 minutes in heaven with a bunch of other students and the two boys were forced inside a janitor's closet by April.
He remembered the nervousness and Derrick's habitual stuttering when something bothered him. He could remember the black-haired boy swearing he wasn't into Dorian or any boy for that matter. He remembered the unfortunate kiss. Why the hell did they kiss?
The group laughed into the darkness as Lacey continued to expose her breasts to passing cars. Dorian shoved his hands in his pockets and forced a smile looking ahead at the neon signs lining the street. Purple, blue and white tie-dyed the sidewalks mainly advertising coffee or tea, with some in Chinese characters. The boy could really go for some Xiaolongbao.
He spotted a small shop's door swing open and a man wearing an apron appeared lifting his head to the wind. Dorian was about to grab the man's attention when another person emerged from the shop.
It was a female, short in height with dark curly hair. She too was wearing an apron as well as a grin that the boy found quite familiar.
April who was holding Dorian's arm noticed the girl and cooed sarcastically. "Aw. It's the new girl." She was referring to Mercedes, a Caribbean immigrant and newcomer to the foursome's school of the arts. She was an excellent painter and a bit of a poet that impressed many people but not April.
Lacey and Derrick shared a laugh but said nothing as Mercedes turned to look at the group coming towards her. She was clearly nervous compared to her co-worker's stern composure. He made a disapproving remark and ushered himself back inside.
"Hey Dorian, she's looking at you. Why don't we go over and say hi?" Although April loved to tease, she hated the girl who the blonde obviously pined over. The three shared the same class and it would eat at April's stability to see how close the boy was getting to the new girl.
"Hey guys." Mercedes waved shortly coming face to face with both her admirer and the enemy she didn't know of. "Never thought I would see you out this early."
"We're just passing through." April flipped her hair out of her face.
"I had no idea you worked here." Dorian spoke up after a moment of happy reminiscing. He was wrong. He did actually have a true friend. Mercedes was one of the nicest people he had ever met.
"Um, yeah. I got the job about two weeks ago. I haven't been promoted to cook but there's talk about it. I suck at rice but Ron just taught me how to make dumplings…properly." She giggled at her own joke. April remained quiet and tightened her hold on Dorian.
"That's wonderful to hear."
"Would you like to try one?"
"Oh. You've made some already?
"Just a few minutes ago. You can be my taste-tester since Ron refused to do it anymore. Do you mind?"
Dorian shook his head gently. "Not at all."
As if he had completely forgotten the people he was with, the artist pulled away from April's grasp and followed Mercedes into the tiny restaurant sitting down at the counter.
April pursed her lips and shifted her stance waiting to be acknowledged but the boy never turned around. Lacey fluffed up her hair.
"Should we go try one?"
"I don't like that girl." April replied bluntly narrowing her eyes. "I don't get why Dorian would even be interested in her."
Derrick rummaged through his tight jeans pockets for a lighter. It wasn't news that he was a pyromaniac. "Maybe she inspires him. Dorian always told me that the only people he likes to hang out with are people who are open to him and give him inspiration."
"Well I don't see it. It's so easy to be cute."
The boy hummed in disagreement and stepped inside the shop joining Dorian who was already eating.
Mercedes rested her chin in the palm of her hands. "So how is it?"
Dorian smiled and gave her a thumbs up.
Derrick made a face of disgust and flatly stated, "It's salty."
"Yeah it's pretty salty." Dorian exhaled a laugh and leaned back rubbing his neck.
"What? That means you lied to me." Mercedes was by no means offended and grinned. "Dorian you're a jerk."
"I was just trying to be nice."
"Well be honest next time."
"If there will be a next time. I think your cooking will kill us both." Derrick muttered. "Are you sure there's talk about you being promoted?"
"You guys are both jerks." Mercedes laughed and glanced at the two girls outside. They were talking amongst themselves and randomly made contact with her.
"Hey Dorian? I think your friends are waiting for you two."
Derrick continued to eat and Dorian didn't bother turning around either. "They probably just want to get to school."
"Oh yeah. That's right. Could you tell Mr. Pennington I won't be in class today? I'm working two-shifts."
"Hey guys, let's go!" April managed to place one foot in the restaurant. "I don't want to be late!"
Derrick cleared his throat and rose from his seat thanking Mercedes for the food that turned out to be free. He reluctantly joined up with Lacey and went back to playing the role of the badass.
Dorian sighed and stood up. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow?"
The boy nodded and tucked his hair behind his ears only for it to fall back into his face. "Oh.I finished that drawing of you."
"You drew a picture of me?" Mercedes watched him glance at his friends. He pulled at the collar of his flannel jacket as if he was cold. She could read him like a map.
"Uh yeah. When you were talking to the teacher about something yesterday, I just started sketching." He made a gesture with his hand.
"Let's go Dorian!" April called again.
Dorian sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. "I haven't even taken a bath yet."
"You don't like April much do you?"
"Why don't you just skip school today? Hang out here. I get off at 10. Maybe we can go to the museum; catch a bite to eat that doesn't suck."
The offer sounded so good to Dorian and he marveled at how relaxing it would be to just escape with Mercedes and be happy for once.
"I don't want to cause any friction between you and April."
"Who says we even have to interact with one another?"
The pair jumped as April who marched into the restaurant slammed her fist on the counter. "Hey. I said let's go."
"Come on." The brunette grabbed hold of the blonde's jacket and pulled him along.
The artist couldn't even muster a sorry because frankly he was far too ashamed to do so. Here he was being ordered around like April was his wife. There wasn't a connection. Nowhere was there a picture in his portfolio that resembled the girl's face or personality. He didn't love April or the risqué lifestyle he was brainwashed into loving. It was only a matter of time before someone turned up pregnant and Dorian certainly didn't want that.
He loved art, painting and sketching. There were portraits upon portraits of Mercedes both in his locker at school and even his bedroom. He loved Mercedes. She was happiness. She didn't want anything other than his friendship and that's all Dorian wanted when it came down to it. He wanted a friend.
Before he was shoved out the door, Dorian yanked his arm away from April who stopped dead in her tracks. "I'm not going to school today."
"I just need some time alone. Away from you guys."
Lacey looked confused and raised her eyebrows behind a pair of purple shades. "Are you not feeling okay, Dorian?"
"I haven't for a long time and I think it's because of you guys."
April choked on a laugh. "What? We make you sick? Dorian, we've been friends for like…ever. How could you all of a sudden have a problem with us?"
"It's not all of a sudden. I never liked how it was okay for us to force each other into ridiculous situations or have sex just for the hell of it. I mean God April I'm not even in love with you and we've done it over twenty times already. And Lacey I don't even remember the last time I didn't wake up to you between my legs. And Derrick, you're not bisexual-you're not even gay."
"Okay where the hell is all this coming from?"
"April you know what we've been doing is stupid. What the hell are we trying to accomplish?"
It was easy to see Lacey and Derrick were starting to catch on to the craziness that was their "friendship" but April remained unmoved.
"I don't want anything to do with you guys anymore. Derrick maybe you and I can start over later on but girls…I can't."
Further back in the shop, Mercedes and her co-worker were listening in and quite amazed to find out what was gluing the four together. Dorian turned to look at them and focused on his inspiration. A fluorescent light in the corner of the shop began to flicker.
"Mercedes? Is there a chance you can get off early?"
The girl beamed and nodded. "I'm sure I can."
Dorian felt as if the weight of the world was lifted from his shoulders and he met Mercedes halfway in the middle of the shop accepting a quick hug. Standing on her toes, she brushed his hair behind his ears.
"I'm proud of you." She whispered.
Before April could object, the quiet shop worker brushed her outside closing the door and locked it. There was a brief stare-off between Dorian and the brunette-all those moments of impure pleasure and deceit. Mercedes linked pinkies with the sketch artist and tugged lightly.
When April finally left, Dorian looked down at the gesture.
"Come sit back at the counter Dorian."
"Another food testing?"
"No. I want to try and draw you."