I left Rose standing there and went to find a table to eat. I hadn't started my art assignment yet and in all honesty, I had no idea what to do for it. I thought the choice was obvious, my mother. She meant so much to me, but I didn't want to be that weird exchange student that drew a picture of his mom. Now, I had no no idea what to draw and was probably going to fail my first assignment of the year.
Rose also confused me. She didn't look like she was used to people helping her. Which made no sense. She was funny, smart, beautiful. She should have men fawning over her. And to be frank, I might have a small crush on her. But even if she liked me back, it could never work. I'm a murderer. If she ever found out why I came to America she would hate me. I even hate that I put my whole family through this.
I ate in silence, alone at a table in the corner. Sad I know. But I didn't have any friends yet. I wanted to but… I wanted to settle in first.
I walked back to my dorm and pulled out my canvas. My blank canvas.
"Ugh! I flopped onto my bed in despair. This was due tomorrow and I had no idea what I was going to turn in. I flipped open my phone to call my mom when I realized that it would cost money to place a call to Russia. I stared at the open screen and saw the family photo of my family.
I sat up and pulled out the paints that Mr. Nagy gave us. Grabbing a brush, I started to paint a version of the family. I added bolder colors here and there as well as sharper lines. I tried to make it more cartoonish and I chose to not paint their faces.
It took me an hour to finish the project. When I looked at it with the photo… it sucked. But, on its own? Not so bad.
The next day was about the same as the last. Phy Ed. bright and early, Slavic Art where I turned in my painting. After Slavic Art, I had Home Ec. My cooking partner was a kid named Christian Ozera. Kids seemed to shy away from him. The teacher started class once everyone was seated.
"Okay class, today we will be starting a cake baking project. You will be making your recipe with a partner today and tomorrow. Over the weekend you will be gathering the materials needed. Come Monday, I expect everyone to be ready to make their cakes. Get to work."
I pulled out my workbook that had special pages designed for writing recipes. Turning to Christian I noticed he was staring at the counter.
"You can go join another group if you want. I won't hold it against you." He was working on jotting down ideas and there was steel in his voice.
"Why would I do that?" I asked.
"Haven't you heard the rumors? The future cannibal, son of one of Pennsylvania's most famous cannibalistic killers." He replied bitterly.
"No, I haven't heard. But children aren't their parents. And I don't judge someone based on rumors."
"Word of advice. If you want to survive here, stay away from me as much as you can. People don't like me. But we have a cake to write up and I would much rather do that than share my life story with someone I just met." we brainstormed some ideas (most of which were too hard to get ingredients for) and we eventually decided on pistachio, caramel, and walnut cake. Now that we had a good idea of what we wanted, tomorrow we could figure out bake time, and measurements.
Lunch rolled around after language arts. I saw Rose hanging out with Lissa at a table full of kids. She had let her hair down and it looked beautiful.
I looked away and sat at the same table as yesterday, and began to eat my spaghetti and garlic bread. I had biology next after lunch, with Rose, Lissa, and Christian.
School worked differently here than in Russia. I had already taken this class last year - and failed - but, at this school, the juniors take biology instead of just having an open hour.
I knew everything in the lesson already so it was easy for me to let my mind wander. I don't know why but my eyes kept looking at Rose. It was hard for me not to.
But nothing could ever happen between us. She had her whole life ahead of her, and I would just drag her down. I was a murderer. My past would always affect her future.
"Mr. Belikov! Do you have an answer to my question? Mrs. Emilia asked. I looked at the board to recap what we were covering. I saw one heading written on the board next to her. It didn't have anything written under it yet. The Phases of Mitosis.
"The phases of mitosis consist of prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase," I answered.
Her eyes narrowed. "Correct. But may I suggest looking ahead instead of at Miss Hathaway?" She looked to the rest of the class to continue the lesson and my face flushed dark red as I sunk lower into my chair. Then, instinct kicked in. Refusing to look intimidated, I sat up straighter and stared right ahead.
With my increased focus on paying attention, the class went slower than before. I found myself glancing at the clock every three minutes.
I only had one more class with Rose after biology. For study hall, I was able to get all my work done so by the time I got back to my dorm room I had nothing else to do. I had the whole room to myself and, despite most people wanting to share a dorm with friends, I was okay being alone. To pass the time I threw on some running shorts and a tank top to go jogging.
They had a track field that I aimed for. I wanted to know how long I could run and how far. I was on my third lap when someone else's footsteps padded behind me. They got louder and eventually they were running beside me. It didn't take long for me to figure out who it was. Her long hair swished in my periphery. It didn't take long for her to overtake me since she was sprinting. I tried my best not to stare as she finished her lap 3 meters in front of me. I slowed to a stop crossing the end line. Lissa was sitting on the bench, her lithe legs uncrossed while she stopped the timer.
"1:15 to run that lap." Lissa jumped up and showed Rose.
"Nice. I'm getting faster," she said, throwing her arm around Lissa who shuddered from the sweat.
"It's not always about speed," I said, approaching them. "Sometimes you have to run farther and outmaneuver someone instead of run faster than them.
"Other than the fact that you anticipate someone chasing you around, how do you suppose I go about learning to run from creepos?" Rose crossed her arms, a smirk playing at the edges of her mouth.
"I could train you. We can run in the morning, before school starts, and after school, before supper."
Her eyes narrowed as she scrutinized me. She searched my face like she was trying to see if I was being honest. "Okay. See you tomorrow Comrade." she grabbed Lissa's hand and steered her away from the field.
"Comrade?" I muttered. I grabbed my stuff and strolled back to my room.
What was I getting myself into? I hopped into the shower and the hot water helped to soothe my aching muscles. I stayed there until the water started to run cold. I wiped off the steam coated mirror with a towel before I started to dry myself off. My shoulder-length hair hung down, dripping water onto my skin. I might have to get it trimmed soon. I was quite fond of the length, but I was due for a trim.
Back in my room, I pulled a book off the shelf and opened it to page one. I had been farther in, but since I was in jail for a year, I couldn't remember what was happening.
The next day I got up earlier than normal. I changed into the same running clothes as yesterday and also grabbed a book. Rose struck me as the kind of person to not bother with showing up early, so I figured I could keep busy that way.
As expected, the track was empty when I arrived. I took a seat on the bench and opened my book. I don't know how much time passed before Rose showed up, but when she did she was laughing.
"Comrade, not only are you wearing a leather duster straight out of the wild west but do you seriously need to read the western novel too?" She wiped at her eyes and tried what looked at an attempt to stifle her laughter.
She was wearing an electric blue racerback tank top, black running shorts, and running shoes. "Nice of you to finally show up. I want you to run five laps. Please and thank you." I pulled out my watch to time her.
"Five laps?!" she exclaimed, staring at me wide-eyed.
"It would have been three except that you got here late. And I had to add another for making fun of your teacher."
"Wow… you're quite the hardass aren't you? I thought you were gonna run with me." She tilted her head to the side and looked at me expectantly.
"No. I will tonight though. Maybe. But this morning I just want to see how you do on your own." I instructed her on how to pace herself and what was good form. She went over to the starting line. "Ready? Go!" I started the timer and she took off like a bullet.
When she got to her fourth lap she slowed down quite a bit. As she passed by I waved for her to stop.
"Why'd… you tell… me to… stop?" She gasped. She was hunched over, hands on her knees, trying to catch her breath.
"Because you couldn't breathe. Walk a lap. It's almost time for school." I followed her around the track making sure she walked slower.
Rose and I left together and parted to grab our school things. She was late for Gym class since she had come to practice late. We played basketball again today and most everyone knew how to play. There were a few stragglers that mostly followed the crowd like a school of fish.
After Gym, Rose ran up to me. "I can't believe you made me late."
"I didn't make you late. You showed up to practice late, so I added to your laps as punishment. You caused yourself to be late to Gym."
I changed in the locker room and got my art stuff for Slavic Art. When I got to class I sat in the same spot as the day before.
"Okay, class. It's time to begin the next lesson." I opened my Art Theory textbook and listened to the lesson for all of five minutes before the door cracked open slowly and Rose walked in. She shuffled quickly to the back of the classroom, bearing the walk of shame from the class, and took her seat beside me.
I slid my notes over to her so she could catch up on where we were. She raised her eyebrows and pointed to the script. It was all in Russian.
"Sorry," I whispered, retracting the notebook. "Force of habit."
"It's okay. I'm the one who's late. I had to grab something from my room that I forgot this morning." She opened her textbook and found the page we were covering.
My old habit dies hard. At least kids can't copy my notes if it's in Russian.
We were going to cover watercolors and landscapes next, and we had made it through just the watercolors by the end of class.
"Practice using your watercolors for tonight, because tomorrow I will go over landscapes with you and present your next assignment. Class dismissed."
Rose and I began to leave the classroom when Mr. Nagy called her back. I gave Rose a look of apology before going to my next class, Home Ec. Today the teacher gave us a brief introduction before letting us work out the logistics of our recipes.
Christian and I didn't talk much unless it was about the cake. He didn't seem to want to get close to anyone. In the end, we had found the perfect ratios of ingredients and were able to work on the decorations. We made plans to meet up on Saturday and Sunday to have the recipe perfected by Monday.
Senior Language Arts was still boring like I knew it would be for the rest of the year. At lunch, they had mashed potatoes, gravy, and pulled pork, with a side of steamed vegetables.
The line moved slowly and I got lost in thought. I had walked to the corner of the cafeteria and sat down before I realized that Rose was already there. I began eating not really sure what to do.
I was almost done with my lunch and had, again, let my mind wander when Rose spoke, "Come with me." She stood and left her tray where it was and left the cafeteria.
Sorry that I've been gone. School ended and I now work 5 days a week. My days off are usually spent resting which means that I forget that this exists. Sorry again for my absence. I want to try and get better about updating and writing though so please bear with me.