The trick to posting is, you have to think you have something to post.
hmmm.... Okay, well, this is a short story called "Sketching the Square." Enjoy. :P Deal with the paragraph problems; it's twelve thirty in the morning, and I don't feel like fixing it. 0=) I still think I like the original version better. Wrote this for class.
“I told you.”
The young man sat on the stone steps of the courthouse, passively watching a man across the street, the one with the red backpack. A girl walked back to the stone steps to sit with him. She’d stuffed her slender hands deep in her blue jeans pockets.
“Well, I tried.” She glared, stopping in front of him instead of sitting. Glancing over her slim shoulders, the girl shrugged. “He’s sad.”
They saw the man with the backpack every day. He had scraggly blonde hair and a scraggly blonde beard, frown lines creasing his face, and sunken blue eyes. His tanned skin was blotchy and patched under a significant amount of body hair. Usually he coughed and wiped his nose, and sat staring emptily at nothing. Sometimes he wandered into the purple recycled bookstore building, when it was too hot or below freezing, but he never bought a book and spent most of his time, whether indoors or out, people-watching and staring blankly across the street towards the old courthouse. He lived on the town square streets.
“You always think he’s sad. Course he is. Look at him.” The young man shifted his weight and looked at the girl. She wore a dark green shirt that enhanced her slender frame, and her brown hair blew idly in the cool breeze. Her dark eyes narrowed, small mouth forming a straight line.
“He’s lonely, Sketch.”
The young man glanced over at the man across the street, whose vacant eyes bored right through him, as if he weren’t there. He’d sat in that exact same spot outside the ice cream parlor every hour of every day for the last five years. No one tried talking to him in the last three, once all efforts proved vain. He was as commonplace as the iron statues in the courtyard, and almost as stagnant.
Sometimes people mocked or threw things at him. Once a kid ran up and kicked him. He flinched and did his best to get out of people’s way, but never did he speak a word of protest. The young man didn’t think the man across the street could speak, but the girl argued otherwise.
“I think he’s just afraid.”
“Of what?” He snorted. He blinked and watched two squirrels playing in the red and gold oak tree. The girl sat on the cool stone rail and leaned back on her palms, closing her eyes and breathing the sweet air. Strong coffee wafted from the coffee houses and the scent of ice cream came from the ice cream shop. She could smell pizza and old books, and the musty smell of the antique shop. Open doors were customary on the square, and the girl liked the pleasant mixture of aromas.
“I don’t know,” she said at last, kicking her brown leather sandals off. She’d known him for five years, met him right here on these courthouse steps. The old courthouse was his favorite spot on the square. An artist, he loved the architecture of the old buildings. Sometimes the girl called him Sketch. She didn’t know his real name, and he had never asked for hers. He came nearly every day to perfect his craft. Said it cleared his head. Sometimes she posed for him, if he asked, and if she wanted to pose.
The girl opened her eyes and looked at the young artist. A black rubber band yanked his red curls into a four-inch ponytail and his freckles multiplied every time he stepped out into the sunlight. He came outside a lot, to sit on the courthouse steps.
He lay down on the cool stone and put his interlaced fingers behind his head. Lanky and broad-chested, he relaxed in the pre-sunset. “What’d he say to you?”
“I’m not sure I should tell you.” The girl drew her knees to her chest and watched the man across the street. They’d taken his backpack once, and she’d seen him cry. Eating ice cream, she’d been helpless to stop it. Besides, the jokers outnumbered her, were too big for her. Well, one was.
He looked at her without sitting up. “Why’s that?” He stared blankly at the sky. The guy with the backpack still sat in his chair at the table outside the ice cream shop, doing nothing.
“Think he has a job?”
“Not for five years,” the young artist snorted. Someone called the police on the guy once, but he wasn’t drunk or bothering anyone, so they left him alone.
The girl blinked and rubbed her eyes. Across the street, the man talked idly to himself. His brows creased and his jaw tensed. “You gonna draw today?”
“Maybe.” He sat up with a loud sigh and stretched his arms. The girl smiled and cracked her knuckles, giggling when he winced.
“Don’t do that.” He fished for his sketchpad and twirled a pencil between his fingers. As he flipped through the pages he hesitated on the one of the girl sitting on the courthouse rail, his personal favorite. Her warm, pencil-drawn eyes smiled back at him as he stroked her lightly shaded cheek.
The girl leaned towards him and the young artist quickly turned to a blank page. The slick of his pencil skritched effortlessly across the manila page. “What’s that?”
The artist didn’t answer. He couldn’t, now that he’d started. The young man saw only the image branded in his head of the girl as she tried vainly to talk to the man with the red backpack. The girl watched. Eyes and nose took form and shape, the table and chair and the girl’s hands. He always put such detail in her hands-every crease, every line, every shadow and curve. He liked faces, too. The man’s face betrayed every frown line. He looked too old for his age, and shelled pecans idly. He stared blankly at the courthouse while the girl spoke to him. Her kind, pleasant face contrasted against his grief-stricken expression.
Across the street the man buried his face in his hands, head between his knees. The great shoulders trembled and tears slid down his face. The girl chewed her lip as she watched, her heart swelling in her chest. Such pain, such agony, and he wouldn’t speak to her. Why?
She glanced at the reckless sketching. He shaded her eyes a dark gray and added pigment to the man’s skin. The girl’s stomach protested. Visions of stuffed-crust pizza with extra cheese and all the toppings filled her head. She ran her fingers through her hair.
Across the street the guy lifted his head. Wiping his face he looked across the street at the young man and the girl. Standing, he hoisted his backpack over his left shoulder and stepped towards the curb, looked left, and started across the road in his rotted black running shoes-left lace untied. The right lace was missing.
“Sketch.” The girl’s knees dropped and her feet dangled. His hand didn’t falter; his face creased, intent on the drawing. “He’s coming.”
The man crossed the lawn and passed the oak tree, sending the squirrels running. He stood in front of the young artist and looked down, watching. The man lowered his bag to the ground.
“You can sit with us.” The girl spoke gently, heart swelling in her chest. “But he won’t talk. He can’t.” The man sat and crossed his legs, wordless. Touching his fingertips together the man made a rest for his chin.
The young man flipped the page and grabbed a loose leaf of manila paper. Twirling his pencil he made a copy of his drawing, pencil never slowing. Not once did the young artist look up or acknowledge the man.
The girl scratched her ankle, hoping he would hurry; the mosquitoes were waking up. No amount of hurry could trouble him, though. The girl squirmed. Perhaps she should get some ice cream and bring it back to him, or go in the bookstore or the coffee shop. He would find her, just as he always did. She was the one who came and went, not him. Closing her eyes, she listened to the birds overhead. Maybe they could carve pumpkins tonight, or catch lightening bugs.
The scritching stopped. She jerked awake. The young man looked up and extended his copy to the man from across the street. But all was empty space, a few pecan shells and leaves. The young artist creased his brow and stood, looking for him helplessly. Then he saw the man’s backside growing smaller as he ambled off down the street. The artist wiped his forehead and watched him go. A soft moan escaped his lips.
The girl scrunched her face. “He didn’t say anything. When I talked to him before, I mean.” She wiped her eyes. The artist coughed a couple times. He stared back towards the older man, who disappeared entirely. He sniffed.
The young man turned back to her and slipped his sketchpad back in his bag and extending his hand to the girl. “Well, I guess you can have it, then.” He smiled shyly as she took it. “Hungry?” She nodded as he slung his red bag over his left shoulder and slipped his arm around her shoulders. The girl leaned into him as they walked side by side to the pizza place.
“You think he’s still sad?” she asked as they crossed the street.
The artist hugged her. “No,” he replied, “I don’t.”