by Alicia Lynch
I couldn’t believe how real the fairy in front of me looked. It was like something straight out of one of my fairytale daydreams. And, in fact, there is where it had come from. I took a step back and looked at the whole thing. Did I really just draw that? I thought. Usually when I draw, my face is inches from the piece of paper, and I scrutinize every line I make, erasing and redrawing over and over. And when I pull back to look at the whole drawing, I see something completely different. Usually it doesn’t look how I intended it to, so I draw close to it again and fix everything I think is wrong with it until I have to stop drawing to go do something else. My drawings are never finished in my mind, but this time it was different, this time when I leaned back to look at it, my fairy came out almost exactly how I had pictured her to.
All the fairies I had ever drawn before were nothing compared to this one. The translucent paper I had drawn her on made her look even more dreamy; like she was actually flying across the page with her delicate, dragonfly-like wings and brown hair twisted up into a pixie bun. Up until this stage in my life, I had never really been proud of my drawings. The people I drew were always small with the same awkward, flat, unproportional faces, and stiff limbs. But now I was in college, and the art classes I was taking towards my Graphic Design degree were significantly improving my drawing skills. And, of course, whenever we were allowed to choose what we wanted to draw, because we mostly were instructed to draw specific things like 3-D spheres and squares and wine bottles, I chose to draw fairies and unicorns and such every chance I got. Ever since I had begun reading fairy-tales, I constantly had them floating around in my head, and drawing was a way for me to bring them to life.
Recently in my American Literature II class we discussed the experience of finishing a book and really enjoying it. You usually want to then go and tell someone about it, but not everyone is always interested because everyone likes different types of books. We came to the conclusion that it is hard to find someone who likes the same specific genre as you, and you are extremely lucky if you find them. I was fortunate enough to find such a person at the beginning of my high school experience. Her name was Annika, and to say she was a lover of books is a complete understatement. She was the first person who really got me interested in reading books. I had a class with her freshman year, and I noticed she always had a book to read with her. I was always interested in the book covers because they usually had either some sort of creature on it, or a fictional battle scene, or some fantastical magical being.
Unlike me, she was very talkative, but at the same time she was also very nerdy and awkward. Her social awkwardness actually made me feel more comfortable around her, because I knew she must feel the same way I did when talking to people our age. She began talking to me, and somehow, without knowing it, I had made a new friend; something that didn’t happen to me very often. I always asked her what the book she was currently reading was about, and she was more than happy to explain the storyline to me in full detail. Books were mostly the subject of our conversations, and soon enough she asked me if I wanted to borrow one sometime. She said she had the perfect book for me; it was something really interesting she thought I would like, and I decided to read it.
Vampirates, I believe it was called; a young adult science fiction/fantasy novel which was very much about what it sounds like: vampire pirates. It was a unique book unlike any I had ever read before (considering the fact that the only books I had really ever read were ones I was assigned to read for school.) It was adventurous, exciting, dangerous, enchanting, and intoxicating. I finished it in a week and was absolutely entranced and amazed at the impact a book could have on me. After I returned it to her she continued to lend me book after book; she was like my own personal library, and every book I checked out I loved. I began finishing all my school work early just so I had time at the end of class and when I got home to read another ten pages of the book I was currently borrowing from Annika. At one point I was reading an average of almost a hundred pages a day. I flitted through book after book and felt accomplished every time I finished one. It became a literary addiction for me, and I had no intention of going to rehab. As far as I was concerned, reading was good for you; it made you smarter, and it wasn’t interfering with my schoolwork, so therefore I could read as much as I wanted.
Annika would always ask me how I was liking the book I was currently reading, and we would talk about characters and plotlines, and she would try not to give anything away about the stories, because, of course, she had already read every book she was lending to me.
Books had opened a door into an imaginative, wonderful world that helped me connect to another person similar to myself. I had found a friend with similar interests at a time in my life when I had been most alone. I wasn’t a social butterfly, so I was really only friends with people who I had been friends with since middle school, or people who were in my technical vocation (because I went to a technical high school), which was design & visual communications. Also, I didn’t talk much throughout the day; given Iwas talking more than I had in middle school. I had made two new friends that year, a girl named Annika, and the genre of books that became my very best friend: fantasy fiction.
I slowly and carefully take the books I need out of my locker and put them into my bag. The last thing I would want is to drop my books and have everyone in the hallway stare at me again. I have to be invisible. I can’t move too fast, or make any loud noises, or stand out in any way. My hair is long, straight, tangled, and parted straight down the middle. I wear a plain, unflattering shirt with a sweatshirt over it, simple straight-leg jeans, and beat-up sneakers.
I walk to my homeroom with the same vacant expression I always have when I walk through the halls at Nissitissit Middle School: with my head facing downwards and my arms clutching my books to my chest. I sit down at my desk which is clustered with four others to make a square. Griselda and Brooke, my two friends, sit at the cluster with me and I softly say “Hey.”
Mr. Cullen, my homeroom teacher, was one of my favorite teachers in middle school. He was always cracking jokes in class, and was very understanding if you forgot to do your homework, or if you wanted to do extra credit to bring your grade up. I had spoken to him a few times, but only when I really had to. I usually did all of my work and did pretty well on tests, so therefore I was classified as a geek. Sometimes I was also called a suck-up because teachers were kinder to me than they were to the troublemakers. This was due to the fact that I was not loud and disruptive in class, and I did everything I was told.
Sometimes my classmates would try to talk to me, but I never knew what to say back and I didn’t particularly like any of them so I would just stare at them blankly for a few seconds and then go back to doing whatever I was doing. One time I thought I heard someone ask if I was a mute. I just don’t want to talk to you. I thought. I don’t want to be friends with you, you all seem annoying and mean. Leave me alone. I was so shy and cynical of everything and everyone around me that I just sat and observed and decided who I did and didn’t like. I now look back on those days and I am ashamed of myself. I judged them all quickly without even getting to know them. My middle school years would have been much more enjoyable for me if I had just answered them when they had tried to talk to me, but instead I chose to not talk, and in doing so I isolated myself.
The bus goes over a bump and my head slams against the window, waking me with an unpleasant jolt. This was a normal occurrence for me; falling asleep against the bus window with my legs folded up against the seat in front of me, a book in my lap, and the lower half of my body asleep from being in the same position for so long. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised I didn’t walk around with a bruise on the side of my head all throughout high school from the amount of times my head slammed against that bus window.
When I open my eyes I see my book closed in my lap without the bookmark in it.Damn it, I lost the page again! I think as I flip through where I think I left off. This was the time of day in my long high school days I hated the most, but it was also the part of my day I learned to love the most over time. I hated it my freshman year because it was a half an hour of my life I thought I was wasting. Most teenagers loved the bus ride; it was a time when you didn’t have to do any schoolwork, and you could talk and socialize as much as you wanted. My problem was I had no social skills whatsoever. Ever since middle school, I was the awkward, geeky, quiet girl . Therefore my bus ride was spent looking out the window or doing my homework quietly.
I finally find the page where I left off and I begin to read again, sitting up so the blood comes rushing back into my legs. As I read, the seat in front of me, the book, the words on the page, and the sound of my classmates talking on the bus all fade away and I am plunged into the dreamlike world of the book I am reading. The experience of reading, for me, became much like watching a movie; after a while, the television you are watching it on disappears and it is as if you are present in the movie, watching it unfold. I can’t remember exactly what book I was reading, probably because I read so many books in high school, but I remember the out-of-body feeling of being able to escape my dull teenage life to live temporarily in worlds with fairies, pirates, vampires, dragons, and anything that would keep my mind off of my lack of friends and social skills. I liked books because they wouldn’t look at you like you were a weirdo, they wouldn’t ostracize you, and they wouldn’t make you feel insecure about yourself. In fact, they did just the opposite for me. They made the bus ride my favorite part of the day because I had half an hour to read as much as I wanted. I soon found myself wishing the bus ride home was even longer, because in that half an hour, I was in my wonderland, and all I had to do to go there was open a book and read.
by Alicia Lynch