It was getting into the afternoon and I was sat in the middle of a double art lesson.
After Nat had gone back to playing football, I went back inside. Not wanting to talk to Zoe, I asked where the library was. I started doing to work my father had set me a few days previously, about how teleportation works. Not very interesting but I needed to be done.
But at that moment, in the art lesson, I was sat next to Zoe. The teacher, Miss Schwartz, was happy to have another student to teach. The others were making cardboard violins and they were nearly done so there was no point in me starting one. She’d told me I could paint whatever it was I wanted, as long as it was with watercolours. I’d smiled at that; they were near enough the only paints I could use.
So I was nearly done with my A3 painting of a black dragon breathing green fire over a stack of rocks. Zoe had been talking at me for 55 minutes, not really caring I wasn’t listening properly. She’d obviously said something of slight importance as she apparently said my name twice.
“Evy, can you hear me talking to you right now?” she asked, looking at me. “Oh, my God! That’s so good!”
I looked at her. “Sorry, what?”
“I said: that’s so fucking brilliant!”
“Language, Zoe!” exclaimed Miss Schwartz. She stood up from the other table and came over to see what all the fuss was about. “My word, Evy, that’s wonderful! So realistically painted, with the shading in all the right places.”
She picked up the paper and strode to the other side of the room, where everybody could see her.
“Class, look here for a second, please,” she said, even though everybody was either looking at me or her. Murmurs of amazement spread through the room. “Look at this painting. Look at the sharp, controlled lines. See how it’s obvious where the light’s falling from and how the fire adds a green tinge to the dragon and its surroundings. Absolutely marvellous.”
She put the paper back down on the table in front of me and went back to the other table, where most of the boys were. Everybody stared at me, whispering about me again. I looked at all their faces and got back to finishing the painting. Zoe nudged me gently and whispered in my ear.
“Don’t you think you’re being a bit obvious?” she asked.
“Nobody believes in dragons,” I replied, at a loud enough volume, the girls sitting nearest us gave me an odd look.
Time passed and the lesson finished, my painting long done. Miss Schwartz called me to her desk for a moment.
“Evy, would you mind if I put that painting up on display in the corridor?” she asked me.
“Of course not,” I said. “It’s on the drying rack at the moment.”
“Thank you very much. Oh, and if you ever want to come in here at lunchtime, you’re more than welcome to. Everyone’ is. Help yourself to whatever you want, even things from the other cupboard and if anyone gives you trouble about it, you send them to me.”