The Vampire Design
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Blue paint splattered my runners as I touched up the last bit of my painting. I took a step back to look at my finished piece. I smiled. I thought it was pretty good. Definitely the best work I’d done this year. I hoped my instructor, David, thought that as well. He was currently walking the studio and commenting on the other students’ paintings. Soon he would be next to me and giving me his opinion.
Nerves zipped through me as I waited for him. I’d been struggling this semester and David was not shy about letting me know. Which I suppose was his job, but sometimes he was a bit cruel about it. I got the sense that he liked telling me how untalented I was. Maybe it was to make him feel better because I’d heard through the rumor mill that he was a failed painter.
I was wiping my hands clean on a cloth when David finally stepped up beside me. “How are you today, Emily?”
I gnawed on my lip as he scrutinized my work. He frowned, and wrinkled his nose, then took a step back, looked at it this way and that, until finally he took off his glasses and rubbed at his nose. This was never a good sign.
“As usual your work is good. You have good lines, and composition. It’s textbook really.”
My lips twitched up tentatively into a smile.
“But it lacks that thing. That thing that makes great art.”
And then they fell back to normal.
“It has no life to it Emily. It’s almost like a paint by number.”
That’s how I felt right at that moment. I could feel all my hopes and dreams shattering around me. Raining down on my head like bits of glass.
“Where’s the passion?” He turned and really looked at me. “To be a great artist, you must create from here.” He put his hand on my stomach.
I flinched away. I really didn’t need him being familiar with me. At least not in front of the entire class.
Actually even if we’d been alone, I would’ve flinched away. I didn’t like being touched by someone who wasn’t my friend or my man.
He pulled his hand away, his face betraying him. He knew he’d overstepped. “You create with your mind. You have to channel emotion into your brush.”
“I do,” I said. Or at least I thought I did.
“Really?” He looked at the painting again. “What emotion is in this work?”
I studied the canvas. My gaze followed the sweeping lines of the ocean and the woman I’d painted standing knee deep in it, the waves cascading up her bare thighs. A bird swooped down to the water in the distance. I thought it was a peaceful piece.
“For what?” he asked.
“For what is beyond the water. For what is beyond her reach.”
Now that’s I’d said it out loud, it was there right in front of me. Something I really hadn’t truly realized about myself until right this second. I was the girl in the painting.
He nodded. “Then my suggestion is for you to travel beyond that water and find your passion.”
He put his glasses back on, and moved on to the next student and the next painting.
I could feel the tears coming, so I packed up my supplies, and got the hell out of there before they fell. I rushed across campus to the parking lot and got into my car. I started it, and then the tsunami came. I rested my head against the steering wheel and cried.
By the time I was done, I had snot encrusted on my nose and my eyes were red. I put the car in gear and drove to my shitty little apartment, and back into my, obviously, passionless and pointless life.
When my roommate Paige came home, she found me on the floor in the living room wrist deep into a tub of cookie dough ice-cream.
“What’s wrong?” she plunked into the sofa behind me, and started to instantly massage my shoulders. She knew me well.
“I’m a talentless, emotionless hack.”
“David is a talentless, emotionless hack. Not you.”
“I don’t know Paige, maybe I’m just not an artist. Maybe I’m wasting my time.”
“You are so talented, Em. You can’t take the word of loser David.”
“He said there was no passion to my work. That it was emotionless.”
Paige paused for a moment, then continued to rub my stiff neck and shoulders. “Maybe you need to get laid.”
I turned around to look at her. “Are you saying there is no passion in my work?”
“No. That’s not what I’m saying.” She frowned. “I’m saying you’re so tense about everything, that maybe having sex will help you relax some and not care about what David says.”
“So your answer to everything is to have sex?”
She nodded. “Basically, yes.” She got off the sofa. “Why do you think Ethan and I never fight?”
I grabbed one of the sofa cushions and threw it at her. Laughing, she caught it and threw it back.
“Seriously Em, forget what David says, and go with your gut.”
I finished shoveling the last of the ice cream into my mouth and got up to throw the empty container into the garbage. I wanted to believe Paige was right, but something in my gut told me that David was spot on. I was missing passion in my work. In fact, I was missing passion from all of my life.
It wasn’t just that I didn’t have a boyfriend right now. It was that even when I did, I could always find something else to do then to go out with him. When we did have sex, which wasn’t often, I would be fantasizing about the next Game of Thrones episode and whether Joffrey would finally die.
I wasn’t just missing passion from my relationships; I missed it in all things. Nothing burned hot inside me. Not music, not food, not movies, and really if I was being honest, not my work. I was boring and plain and didn’t get excited about much.
I needed a change. That much was sure.
After I tossed the empty ice cream tub into the garbage, Paige handed me a big glass of water, knowing I’d need something to wash all that sugar and calories down.
“Guess what?” she asked as she jumped up to sit on the kitchen counter.
“You and Ethan are getting married.”
Her face crinkled. “Hell no! Don’t say married, it makes me break out into a rash.”
I laughed. I knew she had a marriage phobia.
“No, we’re going to Europe for the summer.”
“Yeah. I thought why not. I gots some money why not spend it.”
Paige had won some money in the lottery. She’d been spending it here and there, but still had the bulk of it saying she was saving it for something awesome. Summer in Europe would definitely be awesome.
She drained her glass of water, and set the glass into the sink. Then she turned and eyed me. “You should come with.”
“What? To Europe?”
“Yeah. It would be fun.”
I shook my head. “No, I couldn’t.”
“Well for one thing I don’t have the money.”
She nudged me in the leg with her toe. “I’ll lend you some.”
“No, Paige, that’s too much.”
“Look, I’ll pay for the rooms, you just make sure you have enough to fly there and for food and spending.”
I shook my head. She was crazy to think I would just go. Summer was two months away. There wasn’t enough time for me to plan something like that.
“You have a bunch of money in your savings account. What are you saving for?”
“I don’t know. Emergencies. Life.”
She smiled, and slid down to the floor and put her hands on my shoulders. “This is life, Em. You need to start living it.”
“I am living it.”
Her eyebrow lifted up slyly. “You know we’d be touring Germany as well as England and France.”
“Wasn’t there someone you’ve always wanted to meet in Germany?”
I gaped at her. I couldn’t believe she was bringing him up. Of all things to say to me. She had to have known that invoking him would spring me to action. Xavier had that effect on me.