Disclaimer: I never have and I most likely never will own the Teen Titans. A shame.
Dedication: To Chelly, who taught me to always follow your artistic side, regardless of what people may think of you. ALSO to Bria, who is one of my favoritist RaeRob shippers in the whole effing fanfiction community. (I'll even break the sacred rules of grammar for you! -pokes 'favoritist'-) MUCH LOVE ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, DARLING!
It's the end of class, seventh period English, and I can see her drawing one seat to my right. I can't see what, exactly, not yet, but by the way her hand is fluidly arcing and retracting a thousand times more than it should have been had she actually been doing her assignment, I can just tell.
She should be working on her Grapes of Wrath notes in preparation for the debate tomorrow, like we'd been instructed to a little over half an hour before. But, then, she'd never been one to follow the rules. I lean to the right, as though attempting to read something that the teacher had written on the board, but what I'm really trying to do is catch a glimpse of her latest waste of time, a ketch of a girl in some kind of cocktail dress looking out a window to the ocean.
That wasn't to say that her drawings where bad; quite the contrary. It just seems so pointless. Here she was, handed a chunk of what seemed to be ever-elusive time on a silver platter to take care of some work…and she spends it drawing.
There are probably a thousand other things she could be doing, productive things that could save her time and worry in the coming days, and yet she willingly allows the opportunity to slip through her fingers. I have little to no doubt that tomorrow I'll see her bolting around the library, photocopying her friends' notes in a frantic attempt to prepare herself ten minutes prior to the debate.
She usually just ends up winging it. I've seen her do it before, and I'll readily admit that she's quite good at pulling off last minute things. It gets her a decent grade, too. Not great, but good enough. She works well under pressure. Maybe that's why she doesn't do her work when extra time is given; she can't concentrate unless a deadline is staring her straight in the face. But as I watch her work, her gaze darts across the page to make certain that not a single detail is overlooked, and I get the feeling that it's something more than that.
She's stopped sketching now, and allows her eyes to sweep the page with a critical glare, almost daring for a single fold of the pencil girl's dress to be out of place. She bites down on her lower lip and bends over the paper again, closer this time, thinning the line that ran along the edge of the windowsill with her eraser as though someone would look at it later and measure.
Like I said, it's not bad. In fact, it's quite good. But I'm sure there are probably about ten thousand other good artists out there who will spend the rest of their lives waiting tables and trying to get noticed. Art isn't practical. Art isn't purposeful.
She's writing a few sentences in an impossibly tiny script at the bottom left hand corner of the page, the entire sketchbook tilted at an angle to make her work easier, and I can only catch the first line before she finishes the text and shuts the cover.
"Art isn't appreciated."
The phrase sinks in slowly, but when it finally does, I have the urge to read everything she's written at the bottom of that drawing. My chance comes as she leaves her desk to ask the teacher to be excused to go to the restroom. It's almost more than I can bear to wait for her to leave the room, but once she's gone I lean over and slip her sketchbook off the desk smoothly, hoping I'm not drawing any attention to myself. The pictorial volume is full, some pages brightly colored and others in black and white. The picture I was looking for lay just before the dwindling few untouched pages. My eyes traced every shadow the dress left on the girl's legs, every ripple carved in the water, every lock of hair do delicately falling across her face.
I was picking up on details I hadn't noticed before, details that transformed the sketch from just another wannabe artist's above-average doodle into a masterpiece. Not a single petal of the flower in the pencil girl's hair seemed as though it didn't belong, there are faint yet distinct outlines of other party-goers in the background, even the wood of the windowsill shows grains and slightly peeling paint.
I wrench myself away from the drawing and focus more carefully on my main objective, the writing at the bottom. It's nearly illegible save for the first sentence, but I force myself to figure it out.
"Art isn't appreciated," she had written, "and it's hardly even recognized as worthwhile. People who excel at math and history and science…those are the people this world admires and puts value on. But artists are looked upon as worthless dreamers, pointless pretenders, time-wasters, and that sickens me."
I stare at the words as though I've been hit over the head with a mallet. The thoughts running through my head only minutes before had been rebuked with such passion that I'm cursing myself for having such ideals about artists to begin with. Beside the cramped words is a name, nearly as illegible as the writing.
"Do you like it?" The soft voice makes me jump, and I suddenly notice that Raven Roth herself has resumed her seat beside me and is now watching my reaction with careful, guarded eyes.
"Yeah," I say, matching her tone so as not to be overheard by the teacher, "I really do."
And awkward silence falls between us. We've never really spoken much before this. After a pause, she addresses me again.
"…Could I have my sketchbook back?" I don't respond at first; what she's saying doesn't register. But in a moment it clicks and I allow my eyes one last sweep of the page, determined to commit every inch of it to memory before shutting the book almost regretfully handing it over. She takes it, regarding me with a curious stare.
"You really do like it, don't you?" She ran a finger along the worn black spine of her sketchbook. "You're not just saying that."
"I already told you, yes." I don't mean to sound so annoyed, but that's how it comes out. Quite frankly, I feel as though a part of my soul stayed with that picture, and I wanted it back. And then the strangest thing happens.
She smiles at me.
Not a big cheesy grin, but a genuine smile. It's small, in fact, but she isn't really the type to smile in the first place, especially not when she's at school. It doesn't even last very long, but I enjoy it while I can.
The bell just rang, and the entire class has risen as a whole to stampede the cafeteria like a heard of blundering elephants. I bend down, head below the desk, to collect my scattered belongings off the floor. When I resurface, I notice that there's a sheet of paper on the face of my desk that wasn't there before. One of the sides is fringed, as though torn from a book, and there's something written at the top right hand corner.
"Dick—thanks for appreciating."
It isn't signed; it doesn't need to be. She seems to have vacated the room already, but if the familiar, cramped handwriting isn't a dead giveaway, the awe inspiring picture and small block of text on the other side of the page answers any and all questions.
I wrote this one day after some douche in my class told me that I was wasting my time by writing instead of doing homework. While, granted, homework should probably come first…I don't know. It angered me. Sometimes these things just can't be helped. I hope you guys liked this one…I put a lot of heart into it.
Any flames and I will eat you alive, mmkay? And I promise it won't be pleasant.