Painting Pictures

Malrick has an overactive imagination. His mind involuntarily turns ordinary walks into treks through a mystical forest and boring classrooms into ancient chambers and caverns. He spends his time hiding from others. But then Malrick meets a girl named Rule who teaches him that what he sees isn't delusions, but a gift that he can learn to harness. But Rule isn't all she claims to be, and with his parents convinced Malrick is nuts, Malrick will need to unravel the truth of wether he has a wild imagination, a rare mental disorder or a magic gift. And doing so just might mean he will need to stop hiding and trust a girl he barely knows.


19. Malrick

Chapter 19




When Malrick’s alarm wakes him up in the morning, he momentarily panics. His surroundings are unfamiliar and he’s disoriented, hearing the sound of cars wizzing by somewhere in the distance thanks to an open window. 

It takes him a few moments to remember the events of yesterday. It had been an exciting day, to say the least. 

He tosses back the bedsheets and gracelessly rolls out of bed, landing unceremoniously on the floor with a dull thud. 

A yawn stretches open his lips, and he realizes he hardly slept. His sleep had been thin and oftentimes disrupted, for long hours in the middle of the night he had lain awake, staring at the dull white ceiling and remembering how bright the stars were back in Riverville. 

With a sad sigh he stands, shaking himself out and mentally readying himself for the day ahead. 

The first thing he does is get dressed, pulling on an uninteresting black t-shirt and a scrubbed out pair of blue-grey jeans. He runs a brush through his hair and swishes his mouth out with mouthwash in the bathroom, splashing some water up onto his face and smiling with pleasure as the cool, refreshing liquid hits his face. 

He walks out of the bathroom to see Deer in the kitchen, shovelling a bowl of sugary children’s cereal into his mouth. He quickly greets his roommate before rummaging through the cupboards, searching for something to eat. The only things Deer has in the way of breakfast foods are more cereals like the one he eats now, rainbow, cakes in sugar with tiny marshmallows sprinkled in. 

Thankfully, Malrick spots a loaf of bread and saws off a couple of slices too pop in the toaster. It’s white bread, but it’ll have to do.

Growing up, his parents had bred into him a disgust towards junk food of all sorts. When he was a kid and all his friends ate burgers, he would have a salad. After a while he stopped liking junk food, and hadn’t given much thought into what would be describes as his ‘unusual’ eating habits until now, when he had a roommate to worry about. 

He shoves the bread down in the toaster and searches for something to put on it while it toasts. The only option is butter. He grabs the plastic tub of margarine out of the fridge and tosses it on the countertop next to the toaster, before grabbing a napkin and a butter knife. 

The toaster suddenly ejects the toast. Malrick jumps, turning scarlet red as Deer starts to laugh. He shakes it off, cracking a grin of his own, before grabbing his breakfast and smearing it with a thin coating of the butter. 

Gathering the toast up in the napkins he slinks over to the couch to eat, chowing down on the crispy bread. It was done a sliver too much for his liking, but he manages to choke it down. Carefully as to not spill any crumbs, He palls up the napkins and tosses it in the garbage, before turning to Deer. 

“What class are you in?” He asks Deer. 

“I’m in Average. I’m assuming since you’re new here, you’re in Basic, right?” He scratches idly at his head, and Malrick realizes his appearance is rather bedraggled. His brown hair is uncombed and messy, in an unintentional way. On top of that his eyes are shadowed by dark circles, and there’s a certain lethargy to his movements.  

“Yup.” He purses his lips, searching for something else to say. “So Average, huh? What’s it like? What are the qualifications to get in a better class?”

“Well, there’s Tests four times a year. Before each Progress Report. Depending on your score on the Test, you’ll be put into a class. The higher your score, the better class you’re in.” 

“What kind of things are on this Test?” He persists.

“There’s two parts, a written knowledge part and a skills part where you have to show the full extent of your ability. The Illusionists and the Visionaries are split up during this part of the Testing.” Deer answers, and Malrick is uncertain if the response is intentionally vague or if Deer is just bad at explaining. 

“Oh, okay.” Is all he says in return, before quickly checking the time on his phone. He sees a message from Rule, telling him to meet her in the cafeteria fifteen minutes before class. He should’ve been there four minutes ago. “Sorry, but I’ve gotta take off. Rule wanted to see me before class.” 

“Ya, you knows how them girls can be, aye?” He teases, putting on a thick islander’s accent. 

“Yees, I knows!” Malrick answers, mimicking the accent. The two boys exchange a grin, before Malrick’s phone lights up with a text from Rule, asking where he is. He’s now five minutes late. 

With a hasty goodbye he slips out, hurrying through the hallways as he attempts to recall the way back to the cafeteria. Even rushing the journey takes another five minutes, and when he arrives he is greeted by a frustrated Rule. From the burning in her eyes he isn’t sure if she wants to hug or slap him. 

“What took you so long?” She demands, drilling into him with her multi-hued eyes. The coloured flicks have the illusion of swirling, making for a mesmerizing vortex of colours. 

“I didn’t get your text,” He mutters in response. “And I don’t know my way around this building yet, either.”

“Yeah, well, I was going to give you a quick tour. No chance of that happening now. There’s barely time for me to show you to your class.” She exhales impatiently. “Come on, then. Let’s not waste any more time.” 

She sets a brisk pace and says nothing else as she navigates the hallway, and Malrick watches her with appreciation. She is beautiful in an imperfect kind of way, her long reddish brown hair slightly wavy and a far cry from the whip-straight, bleached blonde mops most girls pay hundreds of dollars for. Her hair is silky and natural, not fried and dead. Her skin is different too, like creamy porcelain, free of gunky makeup or spray tan. There’s a fundamental difference within her as well, not simply in appearance. Something at her core sets her apart from everyone else. 

In a couple minutes she comes to a decisive halt, indicating a charcoal grey door. The darkly coloured metal is a stark contrast to the off-white brick walls, standing out and screaming at Malrick. He stares at the door, only able to imagine what might lie on the other side. 

“Okay, here’s where I must leave you. Have fun and see you at lunch.” She flashes him a quick smile before taking off, leaving him alone to deal with the difficulty of entering the classroom. 

If he listens really closely, he can hear the sounds of voice whispering on the other side. Students like him. This would be a fresh start, he didn’t have to be an underdog and outcast anymore. He delivers himself a short mental pep talk. Once finished, he sucks in a long gasp of air and clutches the handle, turning the knob. 

Acting by muscle memory, his body pushes open the door and steps inside. Then he stops dead, glancing around. There isn’t as many other students in the class as he’d been expecting. Everyone is wearing two armbands, one grey and another of either cobalt or crimson. A teacher sits at a large, clearly antique oak desk and looks up towards Malrick with a bored expression. 

“Oh yeah. By the way, class, we have a new student.” He stands up and introduces himself as Mr. Sagesse before introducing Malrick to the class. He goes rummaging through a desk drawer before pulling out armbands like Malrick has seen the other students wearing, one a dully shining steel grey while the other is cobalt. He walks over to stand by Malrick, taking his hand and snapping the bands on his wrist. “Here are your bands. Don’t take them off. The grey one is for your class, Basic, while the blue one identifies you as a Visionary. You may take the seat in the back, and will find all the books you need in the cubby beneath the chair.”

Malrick walks shakily towards the back of the class. The empty seat sits in the very back row, two over from the wall. He slides into the desk, which has a chair attached. 

He fingers the armbands, trying to recall if he’d seen any other students wearing them. He hadn’t, until walking into class. Rule never wore one and neither did Deer, and he can’t remember ever seeing someone in the halls wearing them. 

The teacher jumps right into the lessen, and he fishes the correct book from the cubby beneath the chair that’d been mentioned along with an exercise book, provided in the cubby as well. He takes notes, and even when the roar of chattering conversation grows he doesn’t make an effort to join in. In fact, he hardly looks up from his work at all except for to see what the teacher was writing in the bored. So much for fresh starts.

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