“Who is that?”
I looked up at Rowan, who was staring wide-eyed at my sketch, looking slightly horrified – but that could have just been the lights casting strange shadows on his face.
“Dunno…” I mumbled, flipping the page over in embarrassment, unwilling for him to see the artwork. Rowan just shook his head and gently eased my hand from its death-grip on the front cover. He turned the page back to my drawing and tapped it lightly with his pencil, leaving a few dots of graphite on the page.
“I know her!” He told me, his eyebrows were raised in poorly-concealed surprise, “or… you know, someone that looks like her.”
I let my lips form a small “O” shape in acknowledgement of his observation, “cool. Maybe I’m a psychic,” I teased.
“Maybe, maybe.” He said softly.
“Well, I probably should have been working from some sort of secondary source… but I like to make up my own characters, or something…” I regretted sharing my dorky story with Rowan, but he just laughed again, nodding.
“Me too. It’s easier. I mean, replicating another real human’s features is pretty difficult.” Rowan said.
“Are your sketches based on real people, or just made-up characters?” I asked.
Rowan shot me a wry smile, “kind of based off of some people I used to know.”
Seems like a touchy subject. I’ll let that one go.
“Oh, cool, so, yeah.” I stammered lamely. And once again, the pair of us fell into a thoughtful, comfortable silence.
I stared off into space, my pencil tracing light spirals on the page. The jarring sound of multiple chairs scraping sent me crashing back into reality and I sat up straighter, pretending that I wasn’t just so zoned out I was on the verge of drooling.
“Do you know what lesson you’ve next?” Rowan asked me as we exited the classroom once Mr Mack had dismissed our class.
“Uh, I don’t have one. All my lessons for today are finished.”
“Oh, me too.” Rowan grinned, “want to go to the canteen and grab a snack?”
“I literally just had lunch an hour ago!” I exclaimed.
I stared at his indignant expression for a moment before letting out a burst of laughter, “yeah, whatever, sure,” I replied, giving a carefree shrug.
While I knew it would be really awkward and stupid to admit to his face, I was ridiculously grateful for Rowan’s company. I had spent the entire day bumbling around feeling lost and lonely, and his friendly attitude towards me left me feeling warm and shaky with relief. I would definitely not want to spend ages figuring out how to make conversation with someone.
But would you have accepted it so easily from anyone else? My mind asked slyly and I was reminded of that unpleasant run-in with Ryan Fairwood in the canteen. That got me thinking… even though he had willingly tried to befriend me(if that’s the word for it), I completely rejected his advances. But, in all fairness, Ryan was complete creep.
“You have a habit of just staring into space silently, you know?” Ryan said, and I blinked rapidly in surprise.
“Oh, really?” I laughed nervously.
“Yeah, though it’s fine!” He said quickly, seeing my embarrassment, “I had a friend who did that a lot.”
“Glad to know it’s not just me who does it,” I huffed.
“Aw, don’t worry, it’s cute.” He winked and my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.
Friendship from Rowan Fairwood was okay. I expected that. But he was definitely flirting with me! Me! Despite my slight horror, I felt my cheeks gain a little colour at his comment.
“Uh, thanks, I guess?” I murmured, tucking a stray lock of hair behind my ear shyly. But naturally, it fell back against my cheek. My hair has never been very cooperative. Medium length and unruly it takes increasingly longer amounts of time to tame on a morning.
The silence enveloped us again as I followed a few steps behind Rowan. I wasn’t confident that I could find my way back to the canteen without getting lost. He seemed to have every shortcut, every slim, winding corridor memorised as he led me further and further away from the art studio.
“Wow. This school is stupidly big!”
“Tell me about it.” Rowan looked back at me and rolled his eyes.
“I don’t even want to think about how much it would suck to be an eleven year old trying to find my way around.” I snorted.
“You seriously have no idea.”