By Julie Jacques
“What are you doing out here lying in the wet grass?” I jumped at the sound of a voice and sat up. I hadn’t expected anyone. The girl I had seen checking me out earlier loomed over me, chuckling over her drink. “Sorry,” I mumbled, “I just needed some fresh air.” I quickly closed my sketchbook, putting my pencils into my pockets. “You don’t have to be sorry – is it okay if I join you?” She didn’t wait for a response. She sat down, accidentally landing right on my sketchbook.
An inquisitive eyebrow shot up as she realized what she had sat on, asking me for permission to delve in. I hesitated for a second, but there was something about her that seemed trustworthy. Red hair—not as red as mine, and her Irish drawl. So far away from our home, it was comforting. She was probably one of the Irish exchange students from the local college– I had participated in the program years ago, and overstayed my welcome.
I nodded shyly, granting her access to my messy drawings. As she struggled to open my book with one hand while balancing her drink in the other, I thought back to my best friend, Conor, and his advice: “Put yourself out there!” He’d always preach. I wasn’t shy, per se, but he could tell that I was lonely; I had the impression that a dark rain-cloud had begun following me around when I started being commissioned to design wedding dresses. Conor had shipped me off to this party with the pretense that he would show up an hour in, but never came.
Maybe showing this girl my sketches was what he meant. When telling him this story, I would conveniently leave out the part about me going outside to lie down in the grass because I was dizzy, and that really all I could think about was my current client’s project while I was supposed to be flirting with girls.
Through her silent gazes, I saw a soft, sad smile. She put down the book. “This stuff is good. I want this one.” She pointed to a preliminary sketch of a dress I designed for a Christmas wedding. I nodded, still quiet. She seemed to understand. She stood up, and walked away. Right before she turned the corner, she turned around. “You got grass stains on your shirt,” she smirked. I think she was lonely too.