I blushed at her comment, taking it as a praise in my simple mind. The moment when she leaned close to me made my heart beat so fast that I was afraid she might hear, but apparently she was more inclined and interested in the painting than the artist behind the strokes. That made me feel uneasy and slightly annoyed. I blushed at my unorthodox thought, pushing it back in my mind, restraining myself from further wanderings toward her whole person.
She walked away to supervise a group of people huddled together drawing the fruit bowl, discussing the perfect placement of the shadows in their sketches. My eyes followed her as she made her way toward the group and offered her opinion and expertise. It was so easy for her to socialize with people and make a smile appear in their faces. I returned to my painting and wondered how many friends I had back in France. The answer was simple: none. I was always the queer girl at school with her somber personality, possessing the ability of creating such sad and unhappy melodies with her harmonica. That comment had made me cry when I first discovered what was being said behind my back, but not anymore. They were half telling the truth, I always carry my harmonica.
The slightest of strokes created by distraction and memories ruined the warming scenery I was creating with my water colours. "Oh shoot," I cursed, taking some tissue paper from a kleenex box nearby and dabbing carefully over the traces of smeared water-colour that snaked their way down and across my painting. By the time I was able to stop the wandering droplet of water, my sunset had been destroyed completely. I looked at it helplessly and angrily, wondering what else could go wrong here in Australia. I was stranded with no luck under the uncaring sky.
I dipped my paintbrush in the orange colour, allowing the water drip-dry from it. After taking care of the excess of water, I tried to masked the displeasure in the painting, not achieving the results that I wanted. My once perfect sunset now had traces and blotches of running paint and water. I slumped down my shoulders and suffered silently.
"It is not as bad as you think," a gently voice said behind me.
"Its horrible," I muttered.
"You know, I considered your media choice an oddity," Sasha said, getting closer to my body. Her sweet fragrance had calming effects on me. "You took a high risk using water colours, you know how treacherous they can be."
"I thought water colours could achieve what I wanted with my painting," I replied, not daring to look at her blue eyes and get lost in them. "A mingle sensation of solitude and haven."
"Sensible thought," she leaned toward my easel, feeling her close to me for the second time. I moved a little to the side to avoid any contact between our bodies. "You are not totally lost, here, let me help you." Her hand reached for mine and closed it in a wrap, holding my hand as I was holding the paintbrush.
Immediately I pulled my hand away from her gentle touch and hid it in my lap, my heart was jumping excitedly and confusingly, and my face was burning with uncertainty. My paintbrush dropped to the floor in the un-timed silence and every face was turned in our direction, looking earnestly at the situation. She was startled by my reaction but quickly recovered, bending down to pick up the paintbrush.
"Sorry..." I mumbled, trying to cover up for my sudden action. "....I .... I just want to see you at work..."
"That's okay," she smiled and started working over my disaster. Her quick and precise strokes amazed me and judging by her agility in doing so, she was highly skilled and learned. She was painting and explaining technical stuff at the same time, half of the time I was lost with her rapid moving hands ... or with her voice. I pinched myself every time I was staring at her and not at my canvas.
Within minutes, she wrapped up the last stray water mark and beamed at me. "Done," she said, "see it was not hard to repair."
My eyes marveled at her ability and sensibility. She was a truly amazing artist and person. She did not only repair what had gone wrong, but also added more beauty to what I had. There was hidden comfort and passion behind every stroke. "This is beautiful," I said, unable to say more to the simple, yet truthful comment.
"What I did was minor," she said, "your determination pumped me up and pressured me to do a good job. It is all your credit." She watched me silently for some minutes before walking away to help another person.
I gasped, totally forgetting to thanked her. Then I remembered my hand and her touch. Her light perfume still permeated the air around me and to some extent delighted me. My heart was fluttering and suddenly I felt caged and captive by these new feelings I was experiencing. I glanced at the clock, a quarter to seven. How I wished this class to be over soon so I could enter the seclusion of my dorm.