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The Art Lesson

​The picture wasn’t coming together like Lynn thought it would.

But then again, when did it ever? The assignment was “emotional perspective”. And that was just asking for trouble. Her teacher really should have known better than to ask teenagers to draw their emotions.

Really, though? Lynn had started out the picture as something rather plain and depressing. She’d been just drawing some curves, meaning to finish it out as a picture of a whirlpool, sucking her down into a bottomless pit, or whatever. But, as she got out her charcoals to fill in the shading and the gradations of color, something had shifted within her. And now, the page seemed to be revealing a completely different idea than what she’d started with.

Harsh angles quickly filled the page, spiking off from the center, where a huddled figure crouched, head down, and hair hanging limply in its face. The arms ended in almost claw-like hands, with fingernails that were ragged and sharp, digging into the “floor” of the picture, seeming to tear the paper, almost. There was an anger to this picture, that Lynn was suddenly feeling, and her hands flew over the page, smudging lines, smearing charcoal, filling in the blank spaces to leave the figure at the center as the only clear vision. It was pure anger – crouched at the center of a whirlpool of fog and fear.

As Lynn stepped back, hands shaking from the effort, she noticed that the fog of charcoal surrounding the whirpool was actually a collection of amorphous, horror-filled faces, stretched and strained, eyes seemingly empty and filled with fear and pain all at the same time.

Lynn was struck dumb. She’d never drawn anything like this, and couldn’t imagine where it’d come from. She wasn’t actually this angry…….. was she?

Well, sure, I mean, there was that thing that happened at school. The head bitch of the popular clique decided it was “Pick on the art geek” week, and dumping a box of crayons over Lynn’s head as she sat eating her lunch in the cafeteria, splattering soup all over her. And then there’d been Mrs. Goff, who’d told her that art was about technique, and not about actually seeing things differently. Lynn had argued back that she should tell Van Gogh, or Dali, or even Picasso that they should use more technique and less vision. Going to the principal’s office had been a pleasure after that “discussion”.

But, really, other than that…. everything was just frickin’ peachy.

Lynn folded her sheet over the top of the drawing on her easel, wanting it protected overnight, as she slept. She’d get up early tomorrow and see if she really wanted to turn this in, or if she wanted to do something else. It was actually disturbing, especially when Lynn had never done anything that dark. But, it was time for bed.

As she washed her hands to get the charcoal off, she noticed that her pentagram ring was completely coated with charcoal. Aw crap. She’d forgotten to take it off, and it was filthy. Well, cleaning it was a ritual she had to do tomorrow, as it took a little time to prepare. She had to make the holy water, and the consecrating oil to coat it with so that the silver didn’t tarnish from the ph of her skin, as well as the negativity that every teenager carried with them every day. She was really too tired to do it tonight, so she simply slipped the ring off and laid it in the dish on top of her sink, to wait for tomorrow when she got home from school, and had the time.

Next morning, Lynn was racing to catch up after oversleeping, and decided to simply take an old picture of hers, a single dandelion growing up through a crack in the sidewalk. That should be fine, as no one had ever seen it. She didn’t even glance at the other picture as she left for school. Another thing she’d take care of later, she thought, and headed out, half a slice of toast dangling from between her teeth.

Once she reached the school, however, she couldn’t believe it was the same place she’d been just the day before. Somber faces, even some kids and teachers…… …..teachers… crying?

Lynn hurried over to where her friends hung out before class, to see her best friend, Miri was standing. “What the hell is going on, Mir? Why is everyone so freaked out?”

“You didn’t hear?” Miri whispered, her silver and blue-streaked hair swept back in a fluffy ponytail, and tears streaking down her makeup-less face.

“No, I was running late this morning, and just ran out of the house. What is it?”

“There is a student, and a teacher, injured in the school. They’ve evacuated everyone outside till they can get the buses back around, and the parents called, and the police are on their way!” Miri took a quick breath, and continued on, “I don’t even know who the student was, some girl doing a make-up assignment; but the teacher… was Mrs. Goff! One of the kids that got here early to finish a project found her, and said she was all sliced up and covered in something black…. like charcoal, or something! He said she was just rocking back and forth on the floor, not saying anything, just staring…” Miri sobbed and dropped her face into her hands.

Oh, blessed Goddess.

Lynn sucked in a breath, alarmed at the sharp pain that pierced her chest. No. It couldn’t be.

“Listen, Miri,” Lynn placed her hand on her friend’s shoulder as she dropped her school bag right next to the tree. “I’m going home – right now. I have to check something… take care of something. I’ll be right back. Stay here.”

Running the whole way home, Lynn was terrified, horrified. She’d been wearing the ring, her ritual ring, that she always wore when she did spellwork. She’d been drawing without thought, only emotion. Intent. Dammit. It couldn’t be, could it?

Reaching the house, she froze, seeing charcoal marks on the front door, smeared near the door-handle. Turning the knob carefully and slowly, she opened the door, and peeked inside.

Soft black marks marred the floor, leading….. to her studio room.

She really should have cleaned up last night.

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