//Jane and Edmond walk into the cafe. Without a word, they choose the table by the window. There is the scent of coffee in the air and everything is neutral colours, trying to emanate an atmosphere of warmth. They sit opposite to each other, silently. Jane studies the table separating them quietly while Edmond closes his eyes, breathing deeply. The air between them seems pregnant, waiting to burst with words, though from who is remains a mystery, until suddenly Edmond’s eyes snap open…//
Edmond (in a frustrated voice): Why did you do it, though? (rubs his eyes) I’ve tried to think of all the logical reasons why you would, but nothing is matching.
Jane (in a weary voice): That’s what it is, Ed. There was no logic in my decision.
(There is a pause as Jane starts to trace the swirls in the table’s design. Edmond watches her carefully, knowing that she’s gathering her thoughts.)
Jane: I’ve just…always felt like I had to do it. I knew that it cost a ridiculous amount of money and that my chances of success were slim, but I had to do it. It was like a magnetic pull or something just illogical. But it was there and I had to do it. (her voice rises in frustration) And sure, I’m here now but…but…
(Jane slams her fist into the table and Edmond jumps back, shocked. Her hair hangs over her face in thick, messy strands and for the first time he realizes her condition. She wasn’t as primp as she usually was; her hair was oily, there were bags under her eyes, and her fingernails were ragged. Tears start slowly running down her face.)
Edmond (in a gentle voice): Hey. Jane, there’s no need to be hard on yourself. You can always go back. We can just brush off this as a gap year and you can get back into the swing of things.
(Jane’s head snaps up to face Edmond and although there are still tears on her cheeks, her eyes are now aflame.)
Jane: And go back to that same, stupid routine?! Classes, studying, exams, in between contemplating the meaning of life while doing nothing towards it? Never, Ed. Never. I’d rather stay here, abroad, and do more concrete things.
Edmond: As in?-
Jane: Working and supporting myself. And along the way, making art.
Edmond (bluntly): Has that gotten you anywhere?
(Jane breaks her gaze and instead stares out the window)
Edmond: Exactly. You’re not even as clean as you usually are and you don’t even seem happy-
Jane: Happiness is only a brief emotion, Ed. Yes, life definitely sucks from time to time but-wait, hold on just a sec…
(She whips out a mini sketchbook from her jacket and a pencil. A glaze slowly settles off her eyes and Ed knows that she’s no longer with him, that she’s now in her own little world. Her eyes are completely focused on an elderly couple holding hands crossing the street. Her pencil moves skillfully, first sketching their figures, then drawing their faces, then quickly colouring her picture before the couple disappear from view, blocked by a massive truck.
When her pencil stops moving, she slowly closes her sketchbook and shakes her head to float back to the cafe, to Edmond. Ed saw this happen before many times, from when she got her first sketchbook at five to freshman year of college, but still there was something magical in the entire process, the way Jane singularly focused on capturing a moment to later bring to life in her studio.)
Edmond: You still do that, eh?
Jane: I’ve never stopped, even more so now that I have more time to just watch people and soak in everything around me. And, in a way, this is what I wanted. (She starts to speak faster now, as she’s uncovering for herself new revelations.) Thought it does suck working three jobs, still there are little moments of happiness and above it all, things I just don’t see on campus. Life is so much more raw this way and it’s giving me fuel for my art and I’ve been improving a lot because of it and this is what I wanted, what I needed-
Edmond (interrupting): But have you gotten anywhere with it? Have you shown it to people? What validation do you have that you’re doing better, or that you’re even good enough.
Jane: Validation is for parking.
Edmond: But it’s also important for you, especially as an artist. (He scoots closer to the table, staring directly into her eyes, in the way that he knows makes her squeamish, in order to get his point across.) Jane, you had, no have so many things going for you. You’re smart, excellent at math and sciences and had all those scholarships piled up for you-
Jane (angrily): All because I’m good at it doesn’t mean that I should go into it. Aptitude doesn’t mean passion, you should know this from me at least Ed.
Edmond: But we can at least both agree that you’re living standards right now aren’t up to par, am I right? (Jane glares back silently.) Why can’t you at least finish your degree then do some secure job in the day and art at night?
Jane: I don’t want to have to do something I despise just for money.
Edmond (exasperated): That’s not what I’m saying, Jane. Regardless your opinion on money, it is a fact that everyone needs money to live, to pay rent, to eat food, to commute.
Jane: I am working, Ed! THREE JOBS! I know about money! How do you think the first time I couldn’t pay my rent? AWFUL. And it’s not like I could call my parents because they wouldn’t support my art and would only help if I went back to pre-med. So to help pay, I added on my third job and if I need to, I will add my fourth. (She takes a moment to breathe. Her face is red and all her pent up energy spills out.) And it’s not like I’m some loner artist working in my studio. I’m posting things online, bringing my work to people, asking cafes to put my work up on display, sharing my work with the community, doing artwork for free. I’m doing stuff and it’s concrete, measurable, and real. And for the first time, I feel like I’m getting somewhere.
(She looks out the window again, but this time it’s because she’s talking more to herself, to her destiny, to the world.)
Jane: You know, Ed. I was always meant to do this. Art just flows out of me and it’s demanded everything from me. It’s like a ghost haunting me, but I don’t want it to go away, I want it to stay, I want to deal with it and let it take over me. You’re just a lucky one because your passion is computer science, something that easily gets you lots of money and is a lot more acceptable to society. But not me; art is cute only in elementary school, but then falls out of favour. When I tell people that I’m an artist, they hesitate and there’s an awkward pause, not because they don’t know what to say but because they don’t want to offend me. Sometimes they do just speak and every time it’s the same old, questions pestering me why I would do such a thing to myself when I had such an excellent older brother with a PhD. But I…I just can’t do that. My soul won’t let me.
(Her words taper off to a whisper at the end. Edmond watches her carefully, and sure enough she meant every word she said and in that moment, she was so vulnerable, so fragile.)
Edmond (gently): How far have you gotten with you art nowadays?
Jane: I’m getting more hits on my blog and some of my paintings were bought just recently. But it’s still not enough, not where I want to be. I mean, I felt like I was always meant to do something great, and this feels…as if life is cheating me on what I deserve. But I won’t give up. I’m getting better day by day and one day I’ll get there, even if it’s hard now.
(Jane’s stomach grumbles loudly.)
Edmond: Did you eat lunch?- (Jane avoids his gaze and he stands up without a word and buys her a lunch along with her favourite caramel macchiato. And under her bowl he places a hundred dollar bill. Jane eats quietly but quickly and as Edmond watches her eat, he can’t help but applaud her courage.)
Edmond: Before I came to meet you, I thought you were out of your mind. It’s just a phase of hers, I told myself. If anything, I thought that you’d be back after a month. But here you are now, six months later, still on your own. I applaud your courage, Jane.
(She reaches the end of her dish and moves her bowl as she usually does to drink her macchiato. When she sees the hundred dollar bill, she looks up at Edmond with a look of thankfulness but slight shame.)
Jane: I..uh…thanks. (She quickly puts the bill in her purse, as if to hide that she received it in the first place.)
Edmond: I expect a painting dedicated to me as a payment in return, Jane. (She cracks a smile and gives him a thumbs up).
Jane: Of course, Ed. Just you wait, it’ll happen one day. One day…
//They continue to talk about Jane’s art and Ed’s studies for another two hours. Then they leave, setting a time for their next meeting, when Jane promises to bring him his painting. //
//The next meeting
Edmond walks into the clean white building, feeling immediately out of place. When he sees Jane, he feels better immediately and sits down close to the stage, trying to calm his nerves.
When the auctioneer finally calls out Jane, he’s surprised when he sees three paintings brought out. Were they all for him?- This was not part of the plan…He starts to panic slightly but Jane looks at him and winks. //
Auctioneer: And here we have three paintings by Miss Jane Lee. The first is titled “Purple Skies.” We’ll start at…
(Edmond looks intently at Jane to see if this was the one, but she ignores his gaze.)
Auctioneer:…sold! The second painting is exquisite and took Miss Lee two months to finish, titled “Scream to the Heavens.” This piece will start at…
(Two months? Is this the one?- Edmond looks up at Jane again but she is focused forward, though he sees the hint of her smile.)
Auctioneer: …sold! And the last piece we have here-
Jane: WAIT! Actually, let me take care of this one. (She steps over ungraciously and grabs the mic.) This one was actually finished just last night, but is my favorite and the most personal piece. And though it was listed to be sold, it won’t be. It’s for my friend, the excellent to be Doctor Edmond Parker. His friendship is enough to pay for this painting, which I titled “Told You So.”
(She whips off the sheet dramatically and the audience gasps collectively at it’s beauty. Just like her other pieces, her soul was shown but in this piece her soul seemed to be screaming from the rooftops, raw, bright, and beautiful. Edmond stared at it, mouth gaping. Jane stared back at him triumphantly and beckoned him to come on stage. When he gets on stage, the audience applauds.)
Edmond: You did that all last night?-
Jane: Well, I mean, it was a combination of my procrastination and fear of not getting it done well enough and an allnighter, but yeah. Like it?
(As a response, Edmond hugs Jane and the audience roars in approval.)
Edmond: Of course.
Response to today’s Daily Post Challenge. It’s my first post written in script style, haha. Hope you enjoyed it!
As always, thanks for reading~