Dragging Towards the Day

(teaser chapter)

"It's time to get up! I've been calling you for half an hour now; it's almost eight o'clock! We can't just fly there, you know. We have to catch the bus, and thanks to you it's going to be during rush hour. Get yourself out of bed this instant!" came the yell from the hallway outside his door. Mango groggily opened his eyes, moaning at the unfairness of it all. Couldn't he have one day to be lagging behind?

He rolled over a bit, grimacing as all his muscles screamed in protest. The pain sent a sudden wave of nausea to his stomach, and he squinted his eyes shut, waiting for it to pass. He definitely wasn't awake enough for this, nor was he in the prime condition to be waking up. Something was obviously wrong. He could get himself up in a couple minutes...

His eyes shot open again at the aggravated scream. "I mean it! Get up! It's eight! I've been calling you for half an hour! Up!" He couldn't believe he had fallen back asleep, although the rest had been welcome. Grudgingly he wondered how it could possibly have been only a half an hour if fifteen minutes before his mother had been calling him for half an hour. Either way, he needed to get up.

It wasn't as though he hadn't gotten much sleep- quite to the contrary, he had gone to sleep at nine the night before; whether because he was lonely and avoidant or because he was legitimately tired he wasn't sure.

He sat up to look out his door at his mother, who was standing there fully dressed and ready for work. "Alright, alright already. I'm up!" he sighed and clutched the blanket to his nakedness as he rose to his feet, leaning forward to shut the door with a slight touch. The nausea was still coming- apparently the brief reprise into sleep hadn't helped at all- and it made it hard to concentrate as he moved on stiff limbs over to his suitcase. Why hadn't he done this the night before?

Oh well, it wasn't anything he could help at all. What was done was done, or rather, what wasn't done still hadn't been done in his sleep. He pulled out some pink and orange zebra print underwear which he had purchased from Lindsay's Lingerie in town, much to the chagrin of the women inside, and pulled them on, relishing the feel of spandex cotton against his skin. Who cared what the women thought- they always got the good underwear. Who wanted to wear the nasty men's stuff? It was so ugly, and there were no cute patterns...

He was getting off track. But his stomach was bothering him so much! No no no, back to task! Mango will not be late to his second day of classes, not on his own watch! He thought to himself. He grabbed his black ripped skeleton shirt, which had a white ribcage with a little green heart inside, unfortunately not anatomically correct, nor the sort of heart which would be found inside a ribcage at all, but a little valentine's thing, and little green bats coming from the bottom right corner. Apparently it glowed in the dark, although he had yet to see it happen. This made Mango a very sad Mango.

Still thinking about the unfairness of life, and the lack of glow in the dark shirts in his life (although he did have a cheshire cat hat which had eyes that glowed like moonbeams; it scared him some nights), he shrugged on his skinny jeans with the duck tape patched crotch and opted for flip flops; the day before his doc martins had rubbed against his un-sock-covered heels- awful socks had rolled down into the bottom of his shoes- and they had blistered something awful. Two hello kitty bandaids later, and he was ready to take on the day.

He shoved his sketchbooks into his bag, and slapped on his Gir slap bracelet- man, he loved that little robot. So cute! "I'm ready! Mom, let's go!" impatiently he stood by the door as she sat on their chair and watched tv.

Without looking up, she addressed him. "Did you get any breakfast?"

He stopped dead in his tracks where he had been rifling through the mail and smacked his hand into his forehead. That would explain at least some of the nausea- he had gone to bed so early.. He ran into the kitchen and grabbed two blueberry muffins from the sixteen pack, and some gushers for snacks for the day. Cramming the muffins into his mouth he ran back to the door.

"I'm phready!" he proclaimed, quick to catch the crumbs that fell from his full mouth. He could see his mother roll her eyes as she got up and turned off the television, and he rushed out of the door ahead of her as if it wasn't his own fault he was going to be late. He wasn't sure what time it was, but he was pretty sure they had left at eight the morning before and made it with only fifteen minutes to spare, and according to his mom eight o'clock today had passed quite some time ago.

He bounced on his heels in the elevator, but stopped when it set off a pang of something in his stomach. Ow.

It was bright outside, and he had to shield his eyes to see to cross the street from the apartment complex, and his tired, sore legs had to push to keep up with his mother- the woman was on a mission. He felt a little bad about it, getting to work at nine was pretty late for her anyway; usually she got to work by around seven. But then again, it wasn't his fault he felt like crap that morning!

They barely had to wait for the city bus, which was more of a trolley from the outside, and had to squeeze themselves on. He saw his mother give him a look that said see, you made us leave during rush hour, and he grinned sheepishly, fingering his bus ticket in his hand.

They got off maybe four city blocks from the gallery, and his mom walked him all four blocks to the side entrance, fielding a call from her employer on the way ("yes, I'm on my way, I'm fifteen minutes from the office. No, I'm dropping off my son at art camp. Yes. I'll be there in fifteen minutes.")

"I'll see you after, call me when you get out!" she kissed him on the head and strutted off in her little business suit. She was a lawyer for a small firm in town, which specialized in housing. Her office was four blocks the opposite direction from the gallery where he was taking classes during the summer.

Speaking of which, he was late! He swung open the door, and nearly dropped the bus card in the process, grabbing at it as it started to flutter to the ground. Looking up at the clock, however, he saw that it was six minutes to nine- he was early.

He sighed and let his shoulders drop, finally allowing himself the breather he had been needing for a while. His nausea was almost gone, but it was being replaced by a headache, which he hoped would go away once he started to work.

He slipped into the studio to finish up on a drawing for the day before, and watched as other students filed in. There was the nice girl with her "cubby" beside him, and the girl who had cute clothes on the other side. He was surrounded by girls, which was nice. They were much more fun than the guys in the program; he found there seemed to be slim pickings in the program, which surprised him. Generally artsy guys were adorable (like himself) but these were all rather.. bland. Ah well, the girls were nice too.

He turned to talk to the one next to him.. Kim, he thought her name was? And just as he was about to open his mouth, their professor "John" walked in with his crazy hair and told them to gather their easels around the still life in the center of the room.

Mango carried his easel with straining muscles and sighed. He wished he had more muscles, that would make this a piece of cake. And then maybe he'd look better and more guys would be interested. But he supposed not. Of course not, he had nearly no ability to work out.. it bored him too easily, and he hated exerting himself. Dancing was his only work out, and unfortunately this didn't build the arm strength for picking things up very well. All this to say that carrying his rickety easel was a task in and of itself. But he managed it, and dragged over his chair, wincing at the noise.

The still life was a paper towel roll and a couple rubber balls, the kind that people juggled with, along with a ceramic pot which he couldn't see from his position from behind the light source. This proved to be pretty annoying, it cast shadows which he saw but couldn't see the source, and the light was shining straight on the ball in his field of sight, which made it harder to render. But a task was a task! And this task would be conquered! It was his destiny!

Or something. Two and a half hours later he was pretty sure it wasn't his destiny to do anything, and he was pretty sure he was so sick of this stupid still life that he just wanted to call it quits. He had an okay drawing. It was charcoal, which wasn't his favorite medium to start with, and it was a very light scene, which meant he couldn't go dark on the shadows like he preferred to. He had been using his stomp (which he had mistakenly called a blunt a few times..) and enjoying it, and it looked nice, but he was done. So incredibly done. He was glad he hadn't had to stand up the whole time like the day before, his protesting legs could barely stand sitting in one position for so long. If the shapes hadn't been so awfully boring he wouldn't mind working even longer, but it was a ball. And paper towels. There was nothing exciting about either, and he had finished the ball after about an hour and a half into it- there was only so much time you could spend on a roll of paper towels. Unless they were the fancy kind with little flowers and that was quilted and all. But these were just brown paper towels. The cheap kind.

"Alright, it looks like we've done these to the point of breaking, only so much you can do with simple shapes. You all look ready to finish up." John echoed Mango's thoughts exactly. He breathed a sigh of relief.

"Take your easels back and- you know, actually, we're doing a more elaborate still life tomorrow, just leave your easels where they are, less work for you. Take your drawing boards back to your cubbies and put your picture up on your wall, and then it's time for lunch. Lunch is outside today, it's not too hot. Have a great day!"

Mango hadn't realised it, but his stomach gave a large grumble at the mention of food. He was hungry! Oh, he could eat so many things, it would be delicious! He grabbed one of the packs of gushers out of his bag, and started to eat them one by one. "Nom nom nom.." he said to himself, and giggled a little. He turned to Kim and she looked at him like he was slightly odd before laughing and asking him if he was ready to go to lunch. He nodded happily, and off they went.

Outside, there was a table set up, just like the day before, and it had all sorts of boxed lunches for them. Like the day before he decided to be a bunny rabbit, and went for the salads, he wasn't the biggest fan of wraps. These salads were absolutely ginormous, and just like yesterday there was a huge selection. Of salads! How many different types of salad could you have? He decided for the "Summer Salad" because it had apples, and he liked apples. He wasn't so sure about the raisins or the bright yellow dressing, but it had apples.

Kim had her own lunch, because she was allergic to wheat. Nutella. He loved Nutella, but she wouldn't let him have any.

They sat on the curb, and munched their foods in peace, talking about different art stuff and comics. Next to them, a girl lit up a cigarette, and Mango pulled a face. He hated that the girl was smoking, she herself had admitted to only being sixteen, and she smoked like she had been doing it for years. She was pretty, he would give her that, but he would imagine her in years when she looked like she'd been smoking for years and ew. She was all wrinkly and nasty and she would hack up her lung like you wouldn't believe. Mango didn't like smoking. Mango's grandfather had died from smoking. Bleh. Smoking was nasty, not to mention illegal for someone her age.

This made Mango sad, and he told Kim the same. She said that her dad was on his way down the death path, and this made Mango sad, too. He couldn't eat any more of his gigantic salad, even though he was hungry, and there was a lot of salad left. He blamed it on the raisins, but it was more likely because of his sudden shift in mood.

He and Kim talked for the rest of lunch, and afterward they went off to open studio time. They had an hour to work on anything in the studio, and he wanted to go back and finish his koala backpack sketch- he just had to fill in one of those stupid pesky shadows.

They walked arm in arm back to the studio, and there met with the girl who worked on the other side of Mango, damned if he could remember her name. He just nodded and smiled, and instead of working they all struck up a long conversation about music and art and funny photos, which Kim showed on her nice camera. Mango was jealous of her nice camera, but he didn't say anything, he just laughed along at the cleavage shot her friend had left, and giggled at the funny stories about her boyfriend.

He wished he had a boyfriend. This made Mango sad, too, but he didn't let it show, and he got happier again when they moved to the funny part of the stories. When the conversation died down a little, he excused himself to finish that shadow.

When the open studio was no longer open, he had sculpture class. The day before he had chosen plastic forks, knives, and spoons as his medium, and he was working on a cute plastic bird made from the cutlery. The bird was coming along well, and soon he got lost in his work, cutting and hot gluing and fiddling and burning and utterly losing track of time.

And suddenly? It was done. Finished. All of a sudden he had nothing left to do, and he sat, stunned, where he was, looking at his bird. He looked up at the clock on the wall, and he still had an hour.. and so he sat. And sat and sat and blew his hair out of his face and fiddled with his holey t-shirt, and cupped his hands to see if it would finally glow for him (it wouldn't) and looked at the clock, and talked to this girl Alexandra and talked to this guy Mickey, and looked at the clock, and finally gave up. He went to the bathroom, which was filled with doodles and messages all over the stalls, and he sat down and read an entire door before going back to his class.

By the time he had done this, it was time to go, and he skipped out the door, bird sadly left behind for the show later that week, and went to greet his mom on the corner.

They walked to the bus stop, and took the bus, where he watched the people around him. There was a really cool looking guy with a yellow shirt on and a mohawk, and he had an amazing tattoo on his arm. Mango wanted to stare, but he was afraid the man would think he was staring in a bad way, and so he avoided eye contact and snuck glances at the geisha inked into the man's skin. He giggled, it was so cool! He wished he could get a tattoo. Not something stupid, even though a Gir tattoo would be cute, he wanted something artsy that would represent him. Something epic, but stylish. Probably for his forearm.

He thought about this, but couldn't think of anything, and soon gave up, distracted by a man's shiny rolex watch. Before he could allow himself to think anything, however, they were at their stop, and his mom was dragging him off the bus and towards the apartment, and he was still looking back at the shiny watch.

But she didn't drag him back to the apartment, she dragged him to the movie theatre. His eyes widened, they were going to see a movie?

"I thought you might like to see something, would you like to? The only showing closest to now is five twenty, it's five thirty now. Would you like to see something?" His mom asked him, grinning.

He wanted to, oh, how he did, but his tummy was rumbling something horrible and his eyes widened as his face fell. "I'm really hungry, though.." he heard his mouth utter, and he lowered his eyes.

Her face fell. "You can't just eat junk food?"

He thought about it and shook his head, and she sighed. "Alright, we'll go back home. I'll fix you something."

He looked up at the showings and noted that there was one for eight o'clock, and promised himself they could go see that one, it wasn't often they got to go see a movie.

They got home and had chicken with cabbage stir fry, and he busied himself in his room, watching the clock. His mom went on a business call.

Eight o'clock came and went, and she was still on her call, and he went to sleep guilty and disappointed.

Alright guys, I actually wrote you a chapter. Aren't you proud of me?

I know it's not a continuation of the story, it's just a brief interlude, but it was all I could do when I'm so tired from classes. Also, it was apropos to write an art class story on an art class day. I hope you all enjoy the foray into the mind of a character who you may or may not have met before if you've read Knight in Shining Armor. This is set in high school, the summer before his junior year. I'll see you all next week, if I'm not too exhausted (I'm still in art classes next week). Have a great week, don't go too crazy without a dose of Lucien! ~Anson

Funny Ending number 4.5: Sheffield looked into Karen's eyes and could see that the fear was gone. The invaders were gone; only love and peace remained. (by Max)