Emily’s blue eyes filled with determination as she studied the whiteboard’s pictures, over and over again till her sight went blurry from studying the whiteboard, the clock slowly ticked by the sounding maddening to her ears.
“I can’t do this anymore I feel as though my mind is about to break into a million little pieces.” Banging her head upon the lead covered table top in a repetitive motion, so engrossed she never noticed the figure standing in the doorway. Caroline watched Emily from the doorway as she slowly gave herself brain damage, watching her doing this while she was eating her crisps was making her nauseas, stuffing her crisps into the top of her blue jacket pocket she walked towards Emily and grabbed her by the back of her brown locks to stop her from damaging herself further. Emily’s head hung limp in the air as only the sound of crunching filled the air.
Caroline looked at Emily to the whiteboard and sighed, “still trying to figure out the picture.” She said in between eating.
“Yes.” Emily replied in a dead tone her head still hanging as though it had no bones to keep her head up.
“Your not going to figure it out, Genna can’t figure it out and she understands the meaning of Picasso’s squiggly line’s right off the bat each time.” Caroline hated to be realistic to Emily as she still saw the joy in the art world and reveled in it, not like her, as every picture had slowly looked the same and art to her slowly became a waste of money and pigment, the only reason she stayed was because the long hours kept her away from home and being at school was better than being at home, even if she hated the course she was in.
“I refuse to give up, you know I can do this, I just have to keep going and keep trying.” She battered Caroline’s hand out of her hair and refocused on the pictures in front of her with more determination then before.
Caroline sighed and pulled out the rickety chair and sat beside Emily, she was always like this whenever there was a competition, especially if a mystery prize was involved, she drove herself to the very ends of misery to win and seemed to drag her down with her.
Emily shifted her head slightly to the right and squinted, rubbing her eyes with the back of her hand she was tired, looking at it again, she still could not see what it was, whenever she gazed upon art it was if she could only see the surface never below it, nothing was ever illuminated it was all rather dark to her, as though someone shut a door in her mind and they never dared to open it again once it was closed, as though they were afraid of what was on the other side.
Shaking her head back and fourth she tried to frame the pictures with her hands, to try and see, but she still could not understand it. “Can you stand next to the board to create some perspective for me.” Caroline without saying a word got up and stood next to the board, still eating her crisps. Emily took another look, it was still the same, she laid down on the table and looked at it upside down, it was still the same, rolling off the table she went in for a closer look, it was still the same, she should be seeing something different, why couldn’t she see what was truly there.
“Okay I’m doing something wrong.” She said closing her dry eyes and rubbing her silver forehead in confusion and slight rage at herself.
Caroline paused from eating crisps, watching Emily when she freaks out wasn’t any fun for her, it was as if a puppy was biting of it’s own tail, a pain to watch with no enjoyment. “Why don’t you do what Miss Rodger says and analyze this picture, just look and say what it is,” she began to point at the bright coloured pictures that were stuck to the whiteboard, “it’s a teacup, then it breaks into tiny little shimmering pieces and becomes an eye that sees the world, simple.” Then went back to eating her crisps.
Emily gave her a disbelieving look. “If it’s so simple how come no one understands it then.”
“I meant the analyst, figuring it out is the hard part,” Caroline’s eyes darted to the clock above the whiteboard, “anyway it doesn’t matter lunch is over.” Caroline said as she slunk towards her seat, Emily’s eyes looked upon the old yellowing clock, so consumed by the pictures and trying to decipher the meaning of them, she forgot time, how she wished that time would just stay still, maybe then the pictures would make sense, taking her seat once more she waited for class to begin.
The students slowly trickled in from lunch each taking their respective seats, all avoided Emily’s desk as she was expelling an aura of misery and despair and did not wish to be sucked in the black hole that she was. The other students began to chat amongst themselves as they took there seats others were silent, but each waiting with either excitement, dread, or both, even those who tried to make the room fill with laughter failed miserably as Emily’s dark aura seemed to have cancelled it out and instead made everyone feel nervous and anxious.
Deciding to try and lift the mood out of misery Genna began to talk to her neighbour. “So did you guys figure out the meaning?” Genna asked.
It was silent for a few minutes, not a word was spoken between anyone, after a long minute Michael decided to reveal his theory.
“I think it represents how life is fleeting.” Replied Michael proudly as if he hadn’t said the same thing about every other painting he had seen and asked about that year.
“You always think that.” Said Genna with a little chuckle to try and lighten the room.
“Well the painting always tells me that, I try to say differently but it keeps on telling me that.” Everyone began to chuckle at that.
With that it was as if a dam had opened and flood of ideas was flowing as if it were water, nothing was too strange to purpose, nothing was to weird to say, everyone was sharing there own ideas in a collective that didn’t judge them or ridicule them, all except Emily who was still stumped and silent with a dark and miserable aura surrounding her.
Miss Rodgers walked in calmly, the whole room went silent there eyes focusing on her slender form, her bone coloured heels echoed throughout the silent room, the sound only stopping when she sat down in the crumbling leather chair. Running her hands through her raven hair as she always did before class she began to speak.
“Now students it is time, as you all have become aware when you entered this course, I put up this picture for every class at the end of the year and every year no one can tell me what it means, so I ask you tell me what does this picture tell you, shock me, surprise me, gaze deep into these pictures and tell me what you see.” Gesturing to the pictures upon the board, she pointed to Genna to begin, I think she was hopping that Genna would get the answer right off the bat, but after Genna explained her meaning of the picture all Miss Rodgers did was shake her head in disappointment and pointed to the next person.
Slowly everyone in the room took turns trying to guess what the picture meant and Miss Rodgers shaking her head in disappointment as each guessed wrong. While this was happening Emily was off in her own world staring at the board but this time she wasn’t trying to understand it and so she merely let the picture wash over her and for the first time the story that they told was different, the pictures began to move, they began to speak to her.
All the darkness that once surrounded her whenever she looked at the pictures only really seeing one part and never the full picture, the world was now finally bathed in light, for the first time she could truly see.
When it was her turn to speak she spoke with assured confidence and without any hesitation.
“We’ve all strained under your gaze and we were all shocked by how vast your knowledge is of the outside word and that breaks us as when we entered here we felt as though we knew everything and you taught us how wrong we were, but now you have taught us how truly small our world truly is and sometimes you must break in order to be put back together, but not always with the same pieces, you reform with other pieces and you become different, whether you want to or not you become different.” She could feel the students gaze penetrating her skin, never before had she had such attention thrust upon herself, she suddenly felt very subconscious about herself, she wanted to turn away from them and hide in a ball, though she stayed firm and did not cower from their gaze.
Miss Rodgers had no emotion on her face, it looked like a blank canvas so eerie and white with no hints of texture or movement, normally her face portrayed a constant disappointment look, she could not tell if what she said was wrong or right.
Then in a most shocking turn of events, that if it had not happened so slowly she would have missed it, across Miss Rodgers face a smile slowly blossomed, it was truly a most peculiar site as she mostly frowned, it was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen in my entire life. “You are correct Emily.”
Emily was stunned, she had done what countless students before her had never accomplished, she felt elated, and she felt joy beyond words.
“I must say congratulations Emily you have seen what others have never could, I must say I’m proud,”
Miss Rodgers opened the top of her desk and took out an old wooden box, getting up she walked so very slowly to her as if she was dragging her feet through the mud, when she reached her desk, she placed it gently on her desk and with the simple words, “your prize, I can honestly say that it is going to a most well deserved person.” And without saying another word she went back to her desk and sat back down upon her chair with a look of disappointment on her face as she looked upon Emily, Emily began to think that her face was meant to always be like that, a portrait of constant disappointment.
The other students slowly began to crowd around her, they each wanted to see what the box contained, up until this point all they knew about the prize was that it was personal and something unique from a famous artist and now she had the answer, a small part of her wanted to torture them and wait till she got home to open and reveal the spoils inside by herself, but she could not wait that long, opening the box her mouth gaped wide open in surprise at what she was looking upon, as did the rest of the class, they were lucky that there was no wind blowing, otherwise there faces would have stayed that way. Inside the box was a small purple velvet cushion and resting upon that purple velvet cushion was a blue broken tile with a few squiggles dancing on it with the name Picasso painted on.
“I guess those are the breaks.” Emily said, as the whole class began to laugh, even Miss Rodgers had a small little smile upon her face.