Bitter Memories

Disclaimer: Once again, just my mind and fingers having some fun.

"Very nice work, Mr. Riley."

He gave the nodding individual a sheepish smile.

"Thanks, Mr. Daniels."

"You have a natural gift, but just remember that you are supposed to be doing class work as well?"

"Uh, yes sir, I'm—on it as we speak. Been on it, for a—a while. I'll be done soon, I promise."

"I hope so, for your grade's sake."

Walking away from his student, who slumped over his work embarrassed, the tall man smiled to himself, liking the boy quite a bit even if he was a touch eccentric.

"Hey, that's pretty awesome."

Bumping his seatmate in the arm with an elbow, he nodded down at the piece of sketching paper where a portrait, which was currently a work in progress, had been etched out in black charcoal.


"I wish I was half as good as you are, then I wouldn't be looking at barely making it out of this class with a C- right now."

"You just need to focus more on what you're doing, Jake, you rush through everything."

"Well it's not my fault I am not artistically inclined like some people. I just thought we'd get to hang out in class and doodle crap all day."

He snickered while he began picking up his supplies from off his desk to put away in his backpack.

"Imagine that, a college course that requires actual work from the student."

"They should put that on the schedule somewhere."

Standing up out of his chair, he swung his bag over his left shoulder and picked up his slightly tattered sketch pad from his desk to hold in hand.

"Why don't you drop by the suggestion box and leave them a note, I'm sure they'd appreciate your input."

"You're such a smartass."

"Yeah I know—it's fun."

Walking out of their classroom together, the one named Jake retrieved his cell phone from a back jean pocket and flipped it open.

"Ah shit—I missed Eve's text."

"That's like saying you missed ice in the tundra, she sends you a hundred texts every hour."

"Yeah I know, she's so sweet, always checking up on me."

"I always thought that was the first sign of a stalker."

"Hey—don't rag on my girl, you just wish you had your own stalker."

He rolled his eyes as they made a right turn down the hall.

"I don't have time for stalkers or basically anything else right now. I'm focusing on school and work, that's all that matters."

"So then what's up with you drawing in that book all the time, obsessing over those pictures for like what, weeks now?"

Jake pressed the arrow down button to call up the elevator to their floor and took a step back to watch the numbers light up in succession, one after another.

Shifting on his feet uneasily, he tucked his pad up underneath one arm while waiting for the metal doors to open up.

"I am not obsessing. I am drawing. I happen to like drawing; it's one of the few things I'm good at."

"And who just got dinged by professor stretch for working on that picture in the middle of class?"

"I can do more than one thing at once; some of us are good at multitasking."

"Sure, when you're multitasking your ob-ses-sion."

Jake spoke the word slowly with a grin as the elevator doors slid open with a ping.

"I don't even get what's up with that new one you're working on anyway. I mean, it's a cool picture and all but it's kind of weird too."

"Weird, why?"

He pressed the number one sign for the first floor on the panel as soon as they both were inside of the cabled box, and then glanced over at his friend who was leaning back against a handrail.

"Dude, you're drawing another dude."


"I'm just saying, if it was a girl I'd get it, but—another guy?"

Keeping himself from whacking the smaller boy over the head with his pad, it was in bad enough shape already, he settled for a glare.

"Jake, stop being an idiot, it's not like that. I don't even know him."

"Okay, now we've downgraded from weird to creepy."

"Don't make me have to start kicking your ass early today."

"Connor, violence never solved anything."

"But it'd make me feel so much better."

Carefully sidestepping his friend, the red head nodded his head slowly.

"Well…you'll have to catch me first!"

Jake raced from the elevator just as soon as the doors parted and Connor, laughing, chased after him through the downstairs lobby and out the front door into the fresh air and sunshine awaiting them outside.

If he was being honest, with himself at least, he knew why he was finding it so important to fill his art book with all those pictures of scenes and places and faces.

They were haunting him.

They were becoming harder for him to ignore as they were no longer just bits and pieces of blurry dreams he could hardly remember, but now they were running around inside his mind all the time.

Any free second he had to himself, even a few that weren't free such as when he was in class, at work, with friends, suddenly a brilliantly clear image would appear before his eyes; one he could find himself staring at for hours, if left undisturbed.

Where they were coming from he had no clue; he couldn't remember anything that resembled, even a little bit, what he was seeing, yet it still felt as if he had been there, he had lived through those moments already, and he knew those people.

He had become so desperate about figuring out what they all meant that he had started sketching out as many memories as he could, as if they were all pieces to a puzzle that he needed to solve.

Connor sat down on the front edge of his bed, basking in the silence of his private dorm room, a day like he'd had today making him all the more grateful for it.

Running his fingers through his shaggy hair first, he sighed and then opened up the pad resting on his knees.

He thumbed through the pages, each picture he passed by more meticulously drawn and seemingly familiar than the one before.

Barren forests with a black sun overhead transposed into an endless, dark and dank alleyway where faceless figures huddled together, hunched over something on the ground which he could never quite make out.

Some of the pictures, such as the alley rendering, were unfinished due to his faltering memory of the exact dream or he just hadn't managed to complete the entire visual before he was snapped back to reality, and so certain details would be missing or confusingly vague.

Studying his handiwork attentively, neurotically as Jake would have told him, the page he had been caught mulling over in class was turned over.

Who was this person?

Everything else could and had changed in his pictures, different places, different moments, but no matter what he drew as a standalone piece, this face, this man, somehow he was always there.

He wondered if maybe he showed some of the pictures to his parents they might help him fill in some of the blanks.

Perhaps they had something to do with some childhood memories his subconscious had buried for some reason.

It had to be something, obviously; that or he was going crazy.

"I'm going crazy…"

Connor stood up from his bed and placed the pad down where he'd been sitting.

He had to take his mind off of it all before he started getting agitated.

Maybe Jake and his "stalker" would want to go with him to Dinatello's for some pizza.