Read Alone Online

Authors: Tiffany Lovering

Alone (5 page)

I worked throughout the day, not thinking about the pain of hunger I was feeling. Not thinking about the sweat dripping off of me or my aching muscles almost too weak to continue. All that mattered to me during those hours was that painting. I was drowning in what was being created in front of me. This world I was inventing was what I wanted for myself, even though it seemed impossible to have.

Finally complete, I took a step back and looked at what I had done. In the bottom corner I signed my name and wrote its title,
City Woods
. This was the best piece of art that I had ever created. It was almost surprising to me that it was I who created it. It was the first time that I felt like I did have talent.

The sun was going down and I realized that I hadn't gone to the gallery yet. I liked to annoy Miss Morgan on occasion, but pissing her off was another story. It sounded like whatever she wanted was important when she left the message on my machine last night. I looked at my watch and realized I had only twenty minutes before the gallery closed. I had been at my wall for over seven hours without even realizing it. I threw some of my things in my bag, but had to leave some of it behind to make it on time. I would come back and get them after I spoke with Miss Morgan at the gallery.

I ran through the doors and straight to Miss Morgan's office. I knocked and entered after hearing her tell me to come in.

I'm sorry, Miss Morgan. I was painting and I totally lost track of time,” I said breathlessly.

That's okay Willow. Please, have a seat, there is something I need to discuss with you.” When I settled in the seat across the desk from her she continued. “Yesterday afternoon, we had a visitor here. He came looking for your paintings specifically. He actually bought two of them,” she handed me an envelope which I was sure held cash for the paintings.

okay, so what am I missing?”

Look inside the envelope.”

I did as she asked and saw several hundred dollars. I didn't count them, but it was obvious that he paid over the amount that was asked.

There's two thousand dollars there Willow, and there is a letter as well. Our visitor was Mr. Jace Patterson. Do you know who he is?”

Oh my God. Of course I know who he is. He's probably the most influential art dealer in the country right now. I guess I still don't understand though. Why did he pay so much? And why was he looking for my paintings specifically?”

That is something you will have to ask him. He's requesting a meeting with you for tomorrow night,” she said and then paused briefly. “Please Willow, go to the meeting and listen to what he has to say. Don't let this opportunity pass you by.”

What do you know? What did he say to you?”

We discussed a number of things, but that is for him to tell you, not me. I told him I would help in any way I could. You deserve that much.”

You won't tell me anything? Just so I can prepare myself a little if I decide to go to this meeting?”

No, I won't. And don't be so stubborn! Go to the meeting and listen to him. You owe me that much.”

Okay, I will think about it. If there's nothing else, I should probably get going,” I said thinking about the things I left behind at the wall.

Thanks for coming in. Let me know what happens at the meeting if you go okay?” Miss Morgan asked with a bit of sadness in her voice.

I will.”






When I reached the building, I climbed through the window and started up the stairs to my room. I opened the door and looked at my painting and my heart dropped. She was there. The girl was sitting with her knees to her chest rocking herself in front of my painting. I took a careful step forward but she heard me. I heard her gasp and she stood up, ready to run.

NO!” She froze. “Please don't go,” I said in a more soothing tone.

She stood with her back toward me frozen in place while I approached her.

What's your name?” I asked now right next to her. She didn't respond. “You don't need to be afraid. I won't hurt you, I promise.” She turned to face me and lifted only her eyes. “What's your name?” I asked again.

Sara,” she said barely over a whisper. Her voice was childlike, innocent and almost musical. She still had blackened eyes but if you looked close enough, there seemed to be happiness hidden inside them somehow.

Hello Sara, I'm Willow.” I stared into her eyes, there was definitely something familiar about them. “What are you doing here?”

I...I'm sorry...I,” she started shaking again. I could tell she thought she was caught doing something she shouldn't be doing.

Wait,” I interrupted. “I was just asking. I don't own the place or anything if that's what you're thinking. I'm just wondering what brought you here,” I said gesturing toward the painting.

Oh, I don't really know. I just needed to be by myself I guess. Away from everything and when I was walking past the window, I saw the way in. It was weird, like I
to come in here or something. I walked around the building, and then I saw the painting. It’s the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in my entire life.” She stared into my eyes, a tear escaping as she blinked. “You did this,” it wasn't a question.

Yeah,” we just stood there in front of the mural staring at it. It was beautiful. It was like everything I had ever wanted to say was right there in the room. It was the first time I was able to look at one of my creations as though it were someone else's. There was no internal conflict whether it was good enough. It was perfect, flawless, in so many different ways.

Why here?” her musical voice chimed again.

It told me it wanted to be here.” I realized how crazy that must sound to her and added, “I can't really explain it.”

No one will be able to see it.”

You did,” I said, now looking at her.

Yeah, but. This. I don't know. This should be in a gallery or museum or something. Not in an abandoned building.”

What did you feel when you walked in and saw this?”

She looked at me again and another tear fell, “Peace.”

I think that this being here, is meant to bring people like you peace. I don't think it would have the same effect in pristine surroundings,” I said realizing it for the first time.

What if someone ruins it? You must have put hours of work into it.”

Sara, if you are the only one to ever see this, every second I put into this painting was worth it.”

She looked away, “You're amazing.”

We sat in front of the painting, not talking at all, just staring, taking in the beauty. The emotions that filled the room were almost tangible. The frustration I had felt earlier melted away with Sara sitting next to me and I wondered how long that feeling could last.

I thought about how Mrs. Schneider said that I needed a best friend, and it looked like Sara did to. Maybe we could be that for each other. Maybe we could be the missing link in each other's life and we'd fit together like a puzzle.

Possibly, it was ridiculous to think that she needed a best friend. Maybe she had that already. How selfish was I for thinking that someone would let me into their life so intimately? Maybe she was perfectly content with the way that she was living her life. Some people are truly happy just living their days out on the street with no one to answer to, no bills to pay and no responsibilities to hinder their freedom.

I stole glances of her from the corner of my eye while we sat. She appeared to be deep in thought sitting there with her knees to her chest again. Her head rested on her knees and her eyes seemed to glow in the quickly fading light. I wanted to know what she was thinking but how insensitive would it be for me to ask? It wasn't any of my business what she was thinking.

We should get out of here,” I said breaking the silence.

It was nice meeting you,” she said. I wasn't ready to let her go. I wanted to actually talk to this beautiful girl. I wanted to know her story. I wanted to know everything about her, for reasons not even I could comprehend.

Would you like to come over to my apartment? We could talk and get to know each other.”

I don't know,” she said nervously.

I'm not going to hurt you or anything. I was thinking maybe I could just help somehow. I'm sorry.”

I don't need as much help as you might think.”

Maybe I do,” I said so honestly it almost hurt to say the words.

Okay. For a little while anyway.”

I grabbed my supplies and put them hastily into my bag. I couldn't believe she was going to follow me to my apartment. Was this normal for people who just met? Honestly, I wasn't sure but I didn't really care either. What really mattered was that she had agreed to come with me.

I had no idea what we would do once we were inside my apartment which was why I was silent on the walk there. She still seemed nervous and I wanted to provide some type of comfort for this girl, but I didn't know how. She probably wouldn't appreciate me getting too close after whatever happened to her. Victims of violence usually shy away from physical contact and I didn't want to make her even more nervous. Then again, maybe it wasn't violence that put the bruises on her face. Maybe she fell down some stairs or something to that effect.

When we got to the apartment she was still silent and I think we both started to feel a little awkward. When I turned on the light she squinted as her eyes adjusted to the light. The overhead lights were brighter than most places. I needed the light for when I worked late at night.

Sorry,” I said as I went to a smaller lamp next to the side table next to the couch and turned that on so I could turn off the overhead lights. “I work late at night and need it that bright. I am used to it.”

It's okay,” she laughed. “It's usually only that bright in a hospital or some institution.”

I laughed at that. She was right of course, but that was also part of the reason I had taken this apartment in the first place. “Would you like some coffee or something?”

Coffee would be great thanks.”

Go relax on the couch or something, I'll get it ready.”

She opted instead for the bar stool on the other side of my kitchen island watching me work. She rested in her head in her hands looking tired.

Do you mind if I clean up a little bit?” Sara asked shyly after a few minutes of silence. Of course she would want that.

Not at all. I'll show you the bathroom. You're more than welcome to take a shower even, if you'd like.” I glanced over at her saw her eyes light up a bit. I grabbed a towel from the closet and found some warm clothes for her to change into. We were about the same size so she should feel a little more comfortable than in the dirty over-sized get up she was wearing now. “I think everything you need is in there. If you need anything else, just yell, okay?”


As she took her shower, I put together a snack tray of fruits, veggies, crackers and cheese for us to share. I had no idea what she liked, but there had to be something there she would eat. When the coffee was finished brewing, I poured myself a cup and drank slowly at the island until she came out.

Sara's hair was a lot longer than I had imagined when I saw it in the knot on the top of her head earlier. It flowed effortlessly to the middle of her back, a honey brown color that would lighten even more as it dried.

Thanks,” she said as she looked down at her new clothes and pulled up the sleeves of the hoodie to reveal her hands.

No problem. I made a snack for us,” I said bringing the tray into the living room and put it on the coffee table. Sara had grabbed the mugs of coffee off the island and followed me.

Wow. That looks so good.”

I wasn't sure what you liked so I grabbed a bit of everything. Take whatever you want.”

Thanks again Willow.”

I watched her eating the strawberries the juices of them turning her lips a brighter red. She caught me staring at her and blushed a little making her look healthy and almost normal despite the bruises.

What are you thinking?” she asked.

Just kind of wondering where you came from. I've never seen you before that day on the street.”

I've always lived here.”

Really? Me too. I can't believe I've never seen you before like in school or something.”

Weren't you a little busy in high school? You know, putting together an art portfolio for colleges?”

I laughed that she would remember that. I hadn't exactly made it a habit to tell people what I was doing in high school. The theories that the gossips came up with were always more interesting.

Did you ever end up going to college?”

No, I didn't,” I said trying to sound confident in my choice to stay. “I got a spot in the gallery here and decided to stay. After all, making it into an art gallery was my whole objective in going to college. Once I was accepted by Miss Morgan here, I didn't see the point in going anymore.”

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