Hello, and welcome to Celise’s Short Story Blog. I will post a new story on the 4th Sunday of each month and hope to add an audio version soon. Today’s selection is entitled “Drawn” and was inspired by my days as an art major in college. Enjoy!
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words.
by Celise Saenz
Ivan Reed crossed the same street that led to the same Fine Arts Building daily. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, however, there was an extra quickness to his step. It had less to do with getting to his Ceramics class on time, and more to do with a certain auburn-haired, blue-eyed girl who sat sketching on the covered sidewalk.
He didn’t understand why she held a place in his thoughts. Why was he drawn to her? Was it because of the vast contrast in their appearances?
Four weeks had passed since he first spotted her. He hadn’t spoken to her, only smiled. He didn’t even know her name. Today, though. Today was the day he would introduce himself. Ivan rounded the corner in anticipation. The door to the Drawing 1 class was open, blocking the view of where his beautiful distraction would be. It closed just as he neared, revealing an empty sidewalk.
Ivan looked toward the back garden and in the direction he had just come from. Nothing. Just then the sun shined down and illuminated the vacant asphalt. It seemed to highlight her absence. He checked his watch. It was 10:27, and his class started in three minutes. On his way into the building, he said a silent prayer for his nameless beauty.
On Thursday, after a night of restless sleep, Ivan took the familiar walk from his dorm to the other side of campus. He reasoned with himself that the girl was probably sick last time and would be there. His hopes diminished as he stopped two feet from where she normally sat. He stood unmoving for what seemed like an hour.
“Ivan!” Michael, his friend, jogged towards him. He reached Ivan within seconds. “Hey, are you waiting for someone?” Michael followed Ivan’s gaze. “Oh, man. You didn’t hear?”
Ivan whipped his head around and searched his friend’s eyes. “Hear what?”
“About the girl that sits here all the time. Rose.”
“What happened to her?”
“On Monday, a car hit her as she crossed the street.”
“Is she okay?” He held his breath as he waited for Michael to answer.
“She’s alive if that’s what you mean. My girlfriend takes a design class with her. The professor said Rose would recover but will be in the hospital for days.”
Ivan took off running towards the parking lot where he’d parked his Honda. There was only one hospital in the small college town, and he was heading there.
“Where are you going! You have class!”
Ivan slowed down and turned to yell out, “What’s her last name!”
Rose Wells. The name fit.
At the hospital, Ivan stopped at the nurse’s station. “Excuse me, I’m here to visit Rose Wells. How is she?”
“I’m sorry sir, but I can’t give out information unless you’re a family member. Are you?”
How easy it would be to say he was her cousin or maybe even her boyfriend. It worked in the movies. But how long would he feel guilty afterward? “No, we’re classmates. Is there any way I can see her?”
The nurse glanced at the clock hanging on the wall to her left. “What’s your name? I’ll check with Miss Wells.”
Ivan shifted his weight. What was he doing there? Rose didn’t know him. She’d looked up when he passed by, but that was about it. His voice sounded defeated even to himself. “Ivan Reed.”
The nurse nodded and came from around the desk. “Wait here, Mr. Reed.”
Again, Ivan prayed for the girl he’d taken too long to meet. God, please heal Rose and give me a chance to get to know her. I’m not sure why, but I feel connected to her. Help me to be patient.
A few minutes later the nurse returned. “Mr. Reed, you can go on back. Miss Wells needs her rest, so please don’t stay too long. It’s room 24.” Why had Rose allowed him to see her?
He walked down the wide corridor and stopped in front of her room. The door was cracked and soft instrumental music played. A barely audible “come in” followed his knock. Trying to make as little noise as possible, he stepped into the room leaving the door ajar. Rose reclined on the hospital bed with her head propped up. Her blue eyes sparkled less than he remembered, but she smiled as he came further into the room. Her face was pale and her right leg was in a cast past her knee. Now that Ivan stood in front of her, what was he supposed to say?
She spoke a second later. “Hi, Ivan. I didn’t expect to see you. Though, I hoped I might.”
So, she had noticed him. “I’m sorry, I wanted to check on you.”
“I’ll live.” She laughed a little. “I’m fortunate the car wasn’t going too fast.” Rose pointed to the tan polyester chair sitting in the corner nearest her. “Have a seat.”
As he lowered himself into the chair, he noticed her sketchbook resting on the side table and froze in mid-air. “Is that me?”
She motioned toward the pad of paper. “Go ahead, I don’t mind.”
Page after page displayed an image of him in different clothing and yet none of them were complete. Rose had dated each drawing, and the first matched the day he’d first seen her. “They’re wonderful.”
“Thank you. I’m afraid they’re not finished. I only got glimpses of you at a time.”
Ivan closed the book and laid it back on the table. He started to say something but hesitated.
She bit her lip. “You’re thinking I’m crazy, aren’t you?”
Ivan shook his head no, his eyes never leaving her. “I’m thinking I’d like to see you more than just twice a week. Do you want to finish one of these now?”
Rose met his eyes and reached for her pencil. “I’d like that. Am I the first to draw you?”