Friday Fiction is hosted right here this week. Visit the Linky list at the end of this post to add your link, and to visit the other great stories posted for your summer reading pleasure.
This week’s story is an excerpt from “Merrowsong,” and features one of the Hyland twins. The location is near the train station in San Diego, on the harbor in Coronado Bay. We’ve been there many times, and I enjoyed setting this story in the real world locations.
Rachel sat on a bench overlooking the bay, near a metal sculpture of a mermaid. The Harbor Cruise boats were preparing for the lunch excursions, and soon would be joined by the whale watching vessels when the season picked up in earnest in another week. Sketching the large boats was a new challenge for her, and the partially cloudy skies offered interesting shadows and contrasts for her to duplicate. It helped take her mind off the fact that Leah still hadn’t told her what the whole trip to Catalina had been about. She had suspicions, but neither her sister nor Marcel had been forthcoming with confirmations or confessions.
A homeless woman shuffled by, pushing an old cart loaded with the sum total of her worldly goods, and before she had quite moved out of sight a fast drawing of her occupied another page in the book. In another few minutes, a noisy seagull had been transposed into a vacant corner of the page, and Rachel paused to sharpen her pencil. She needed to track down the art supply store in town; her last 2B pencil was getting short, and she hated using standard department store #2 pencils.
Applying the freshly sharpened stub to a new sheet, she began drawing a young woman who stood waiting nearby. Her gauzy skirt flowed with the mid-day breeze, teasing any onlooker with the chance for a peek at what the woman might – or might not – be wearing beneath it. When the woman didn’t move on right away, Rachel filled in details and worked the sketch towards an actual portrait. The candid moment caught from an unaware model was, to her at least, always the best. Such drawings looked natural because the subject was acting natural, not posing artificially.
A shadow fell over her book, and for a moment she felt a panic that Will stood behind her.
“That’s my wife you’re drawing,” an unfamiliar voice said.
“I’m sorry,” she said, glancing up into the face of a lean young man. He sported a bushy mustache and the kind of pale blue eyes that were popular on leading men in the movies. His build, however, was more of the secondary “geek” character.
“Would you be interested in selling that drawing?”
“Amy is kind of camera shy, if you know what I mean. I have a very hard time getting any kind of photos of her, and had I suggested she sit for a portrait, she would have gone the other way entirely. I’d love to have your drawing to hang in my office.”
“It’ll need a fixative applied to it so it doesn’t smear,” she said.
“Can I do that, or is it something you need to do and I can pick up the piece later?”
“Any art supply store will have fixative. Just tell them you have a pencil sketch that needs it, and they’ll show you the right stuff. Go easy, though; two or three very light coats is better than one heavy one.”
“How much do you want for it?”
She shrugged. “I was just drawing for the practice of drawing, and she happened to stand still long enough for me to spend a bit more time on. I don’t know what I’d ask for it.”
He pulled out his wallet and extracted a hundred dollar bill. “Is this too little?”
“More like too much,” she stammered.
“Then I take it you would not feel cheated to sell your drawing for that price?”
“I’d feel like I was cheating you.”
He laughed. “It’s hardly cheating if this is what I am willing to open my offer with. I would have gone more if you asked; that’s how difficult it is for me to get something like this of Amy.”
She carefully separated the drawing from the sketch book along the micro-perforation, and then removed two additional clean sheets of paper. With a few pieces of tape, she fashioned a make-shift envelope to protect the drawing. She started to place it between the two clean sheets when he stopped her.
“Aren’t you going to sign it? It would be a shame if someday you’re a famous artist, and I had an original by you and it wasn’t signed. At the very least, it’s always nice to be able to tell people who the artist was when they admire it.”
“Oh; yeah. I almost never sign the stuff in my sketch book, so it slipped my mind.” She put her name and the date in the corner, and then enclosed it.
Handing her the bill, he took the drawing and smiled. “Thank you, Miss - ?”
“Hyland; Rachel Hyland.”
“Thank you, Miss Rachel Hyland. I hope someday to see more of your works in a gallery.”
“Thank you.” She sat in shock, watching the man rejoin his wife with a tender kiss. Amy pointed to the drawing, and he pointed back towards her and then kept it playfully away from her. She didn’t seem as thrilled with having been drawn as he was with the drawing.
The pedicab rolled up next to her. “Hey, Rachel. How’s it going today?”
“I just sold my first piece of artwork,” she said, her voice trailing off absently.
“For real? How much?”
“Cool. What say we go celebrate with lunch? I just had a big tipper, so it’s my treat.”
She started packing away her supplies. “I must be a real artist now, Joe.”
“I could have told you that when I looked at your drawings the other night. Why would you only think so now?”
“Well, now I not only have a doofus fan-boy; I’ve also been paid for my drawing.”
“You’ve got a hungry doofus fan-boy. Hop in, and let’s go get a sandwich.”