Marie Summers was out of breath when she arrived at the door to the life drawing room. She looked at her watch and cringed—she was nearly forty minutes late. To Marie, punctuality meant being wherever you needed to be ten minutes early at minimum, preferably fifteen, and she almost always was. Being late felt uncomfortable, like wearing nothing but your bathing suit to the mall.
Marie took a minute to catch her breath outside the door. It had been a hectic morning involving a flooded bathroom, an apologetic roommate, and a trip to the hardware store to buy a plumber’s snake in order to unplug the drain of the only shower she shared with her four roommates, who were technically her tenants, and their long, drain-clogging hair. Even though she’d lectured the Rapunzels about proper hair disposal, Marie made a mental note to buy a drain protector on the way home.
But now it was time to draw. Marie had three-hour life drawing sessions twice weekly, and as far as she was concerned, they were the best part of going to art school. Getting to draw the human figure (her favourite subject) from life (her favourite way to draw), taught her more than all of her other classes combined.
She took a deep breath, shifted her drawing board and book bag to one arm, and tried to slip into the class unnoticed. As she brushed past the heavy door, the strap of her bag caught on the door handle. Reaching out her arms to try to regain her balance was a mistake, Marie realized too late, as her drawing board clattered loudly on the wooden floor and she fell forwards onto her outstretched arms.
Oh why had she worn her high heeled boots? At least she hadn’t twisted an ankle. Gingerly pushing herself up from her nosedive, she wished she’d taken the extra time to go around to the door in the back of the classroom, and not taken the one directly next to the stage. This was awkward.
She looked up at the stage. Standing before her was the most beautiful life model they’d ever had. No, scratch that, he was the the most beautiful person she’d ever seen, period. And he was laughing at her.
* * * *
Christopher Craig had been standing as perfectly still as humanly possible for 1 minute and 45 seconds when she stumbled into the classroom. If he’d not been facing the door, torso twisting away from the back wall, he wouldn’t have seen her fall. As it was, he’d had the best view of anyone.
It wasn’t very professional, but he couldn’t hold back a chuckle. When she looked up, the poor girl caught his eye and flushed. She looked so embarrassed he immediately regretted his reaction.
She quickly looked down at her scattered papers. Her hair was short, shorter than his, and dark. As she got up on her knees to collect her things, he saw that she was wearing tall black boots underneath an ankle-length skirt, as though she had thrown her street clothes on overtop a superhero outfit she was in too much of a hurry to change out of. So she was pretty and mysterious, even if the mystery was largely invented.
Oh god, what was he doing admiring a girl while standing butt naked in front of a group of thirty people?
Think about about smelly feet, think about spicy jam, think about whatever Mr. Gordan is saying right now.
The anatomy instructor, an intense man with a head of thick, dark curls named Mr. Gordan, was finishing his critique of a student’s work, loudly as usual, completely unfazed by the disturbance. “Just push the values even more—you’ve got the plains laid in accurately, so don’t be afraid to be bold with your darks.” Mr. Gordan must’ve finally looked up from the easel, because he said, “Oh, it’s you, Marie. Didn’t expect you today. Are you all right?”
“I’m fine, thank you.” Said the girl on the floor, whom he now knew was named Marie. “Sorry to interrupt.” Her voice was richer than he expected from such an adorable, petite woman, and more confident, too. When she got to her feet, she strode out of his line of sight as confidently she has spoken.
His timer beeped to indicate a pose change. As he turned, he saw Marie set her board onto an easel in the back of the room. He looked up to the ceiling and held the pose, trying not to think about whether or not it would be weird to approach her after class.