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Romance Fiction Happy

In an apartment uptown:


“Please! Just come with me. I really want to see this exhibit.” “Not interested, Brynn. Go by yourself. You know, it’s okay to do things by yourself sometimes,” said Henry. He had just gotten home from an all-night study session with his study group and was lying on the couch desperate to get to bed. “You might even enjoy it more if you don’t have to explain everything to me,” said Henry. “I like explaining things to you. You’re my little brother, and you need me to enlighten you,” she said laughing. “You. Need. Some. Refinement,” she said while poking him in his arm emphatically with each word. “Yeah well, ‘enlighten yourself,’" he whined and rubbed his poked arm, “and go look at Degrassi and Mamet pictures alone today,” Henry said facetiously. He knew full well that Degrassi was a stupid Canadian teen TV show and Mamet was a playwright. He just loved to get her all worked up. They were twins, but she never let him forget that she was his big sister. She was 35 minutes older than him, and she definitely had the first-born, bossy attitude down pat.


“It’s DEGAS and MANET!” she laughed. "And, I guess I will go alone,” Brynn sighed as she turned in a pretend huff and marched out the door. They were seniors at Columbia and shared an apartment. He was pre-med and she was pre-law--or maybe not. Maybe she wouldn’t go to law school. Maybe she’d teach. She didn’t know for sure, but that was a decision for another day. Not today. Today was all about Degas and Manet.


I made my way uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I stopped in front of the steps and as I looked at that beautiful building, I felt instantly happy. Walking up the Met steps and into the Great Hall is always thrilling, but today I was particularly excited because an exhibit of Degas and Manet was about the best way I could think of to spend my day. It was really crowded, of course, and people had no choice but to move en masse toward the exhibit. 


****


Earlier, in an apartment downtown: 


“I mean, you can come if you want but I’m not going for fun. If you come, you have to work!” said Will. “You never do anything for fun,” teased his roommate Owen as he packed up his supplies. Will fell back and grabbed his chest in mock pain and then reached over and tousled Owen’s hair (pretty much the worst thing you could do to Owen) before he picked up his messenger bag and slung it over his shoulder. “Let’s go before it gets too crowded,” said Will as they walked out the door toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


Will and Owen got to the Met as soon as it opened and went into Statuary Hall. They took out their sketch pads and started drawing as some early-bird museum goers were milling about. Most people ignored the art students who were in museums sketching but you always had a few who stopped to ask generic questions:


Question: “Why are you doing that?” Answer: “I like to draw.” Question: “Are you an art student?” Answer: “Yes.” Or sometimes they had more specific questions like “Why did you choose that statue?” Answer: (There may be many answers to this question: ‘I like the way the light is streaming in on it;’ ‘I need to practice drawing hands;’ ‘ There are fewer people blocking my view to this one.’ But both Owen and Will answered whatever questions people had with good humor and fun. They didn’t mind, especially when someone told them they liked their drawings. Sometimes they would even do quick sketches of certain people as they passed just to really hone their skills. 


****


“You know Manet and Degas were friends but they were also rivals and were pitted against each other during the impres…” one guy droned on and on to the poor girl next to him who looked bored not by the art but by his know-it-all explanations that were completely unnecessary given that most of that information was in the printed material handed out with the tickets. Brynn smiled to herself and tried to block out all the irrelevant dialogue that could otherwise ruin her immersion in the beauty of the art. As everyone started filing out of the hallways and into the exhibit rooms it opened up a bit so that people weren’t right on top of each other. 


****


As the museum got more and more crowded, Owen packed up his stuff. “I got to get out of here. Are you coming?” asked Owen. “No. I still have work to do,” said Will. “Okay, see you later.” Will nodded his head ever so slightly in acknowledgment while he continued drawing. He tried to blend into the surroundings and be as inconspicuous as possible but it was getting harder as more and more people kept streaming in. He found himself in one of the exhibit rooms and decided to sketch people in the crowd instead of the statues as he no longer could even see the statues.


****


I walked into the room where Degas’ “The Ballet Class,” hung and slowly approached it in awe. Even though the room was crowded, I didn’t really see anything but the painting. It was so beautiful. I stared at it for what seemed like a blip but apparently it was a long time because I started hearing the clearing of throats as a cue to get out of the way. I grudgingly pulled myself out of my trance and made some strange noises in the way of an apology, “oh, um, eh, sorry” I muttered as I moved slightly to the left out of the way.


****


When she came into the room, Will couldn’t help but notice her. “Notice her” was an understatement. When he saw her, everyone else in the room just disappeared. She was like nobody he’d ever seen before. Beautiful women are not rare in New York, but he never felt like this. He couldn’t take his eyes off of her. She was so lovely and her obvious love of the art was clear as the joy of seeing it up close brought emotions that almost danced across her face. He drew fast because he really wanted to capture that innocent joy. The spell was broken when people cleared their throats to let her know that she needed to move and she stepped back to let others get closer.


*****


“Do you like Degas?” asked a male voice behind me and just as I turned to answer, a little boy ran right into me. I fell forward into the arms of the guy and, in order to catch me, he dropped his pad, bag and pencil. “Are you alright,” he asked and as I started to answer, I looked up into the sweetest eyes I’d ever seen. We stared at each other like deer caught in headlights, and we stayed entwined a little longer than necessary. When we noticed that it was a little longer than necessary, we both blushed and made silly apologies and stepped slightly away from each other. 


*****


'How did that come out of my mouth' he thought to himself. He doesn’t usually talk to strangers. Especially beautiful ones. Thoughts were going through his head like: ‘Oh you're brilliant! 'Do you like Degas? Duh, idiot, she’s here looking at paintings.' ‘She’s way out of your league.’ But for some reason, as he held her in his arms and looked into her eyes, instead of being nervous, he felt calm and he wanted to keep talking to her, but he didn’t really know what to say. He just stood there looking at her.


****


I wanted to keep talking to him, but he wasn’t really saying much so I asked, “Do you go to school around here?“ “Yeah, I'm getting my MFA from the New York Academy of Art,” he said. “Wow, impressive!” He blushed and shrugged as if it wasn’t really much and changed the subject. I could tell he wasn’t very interested in talking about himself, and I worried that he might not be interested in talking to me at all so I asked him a few more questions about Degas just to keep talking. He answered my questions and then asked if I’d like to see some of his favorites. I nodded yes, relieved that maybe I hadn’t blown it after all. I helped him pick up his belongings and he put his sketch pad into his bag and slung it around his shoulders. “C’mon,” he said with a slightly crooked grin and off we went. 


****


We went through every room and he talked about some of the paintings but most of the time we just silently looked at the art. Feeling it. Sharing it with him was special in a way I couldn’t have imagined before. He wouldn’t really speak about a piece unless I asked something and then the way he explained it; the way he saw it was magical to me. He spoke about the brush strokes, the paint used; the light that the artist was trying to capture, the negative space around the images, and it made me appreciate it in a whole new way. We were having such a good time. It was just so easy being together and what initially was awkward became so comfortable.


****


After we saw the last of the exhibit, I was worried the spell would be broken and the magical day would be over, but he asked if I would like to get something to drink so we went to the cafe in the museum and I got a coffee — he had a tea. He didn’t drink coffee, which was just one more interesting thing about him. Who doesn’t drink coffee in the age of Starbucks I thought to myself and smiled. As we ordered, it occurred to me that we had just spent the day together and I didn’t know his name. “You know, I don’t even know your name,” I said as we sat down. He smiled and stretched out his hand to shake hers, “I’m Will,” he said. “I’m Brynn,” she said with a smile and as their hands touched there was a spark that jolted them both. 


****


We continued talking and laughing for another hour. I had never connected with anyone so thoroughly or so fast. We talked about everything and nothing at all. I asked if I could see his sketch pad and he said sure. He excused himself to go grab a refill, and I started looking through the book and saw beautiful charcoal drawings of statues from the museum, some still lifes, and several nudes from class. As I was flipping through the pages Will came back to the table, and I sensed him tense up. I turned the page and saw a picture of me from when I had been looking at the Degas. It took me by surprise, and I looked up at him. He kind of shrugged, a little embarrassed. I don’t really like pictures of myself but I loved this. “Can I keep this? Please? I’d love this to remember today by.” He looked at me and said sweetly, “Of course, you can have whatever you want.” He leaned over and kissed me and, with that one kiss I knew I wouldn’t need this drawing to remember today.

March 21, 2024 22:49

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14 comments

Martha Kowalski
00:27 Apr 09, 2024

Manet gets so underrated at times (had to replicate one of his paintings in an art class) - so happy to see him make an appearance in such a lovely story :)

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Annie Hewitt
01:02 Apr 09, 2024

Aw thanks. Yeah, there was an exhibit years ago of Degas and Manet that's why I included him but then I ended up cutting most references to him out but I still left a few. I appreciate your feedback

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20:25 Apr 07, 2024

A truly lovely romance. You captured how a young couple feel when they meet someone special, perfectly. You also captured that magic, and portrayed it on the page, when everything around the two who locked eyes seemed to disappear into the background and time moved more slowly for them. Hope they get together again. Please look up and learn "dialogue structure in writing". And when you have structured dialogue in a way that provides space between character dialogues you may trim away the excess "he said" "she said" s. Actually, I liked the ...

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Annie Hewitt
21:42 Apr 07, 2024

Thank you so much. I'm glad the romance resonated with you. I will read your story on it as well. I'm having fun writing and like to get people's responses to my stories as it is so hard to know if what you are writing feels authentic or stilted to the reader. Thanks!

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Annie Hewitt
11:20 Apr 08, 2024

Thanks for the suggestion of reading up on dialogue. I've been doing that, and I hope I can better convey the story with dialogue in my next attempts than I've been doing. Most stories I read on here seem to have stilted dialogue. I think the writers know their characters and what they want to convey so well and the inexperienced writers don't quite know that the dialogue isn't coming across as authenticate nor does it flow the way we think it does. Great suggestions. I appreciate it

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Adam West
09:56 Mar 29, 2024

Fun story! I love the use of brackets earlier as if the story were being interjected by a quirky narrator, it gave me bright, coming-of-age movie vibes, but in short story form. If that makes any sense.

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Annie Hewitt
10:39 Mar 29, 2024

Thanks so much, Adam! I appreciate the feedback. You know, I was never one to let anyone read anything so posting stories is very intimidating for me but I'm getting used to feedback and suggestions are always appreciated.

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Wendy M
12:15 Mar 27, 2024

I like your character interactions, the relationships between the students, and who doesn't love Degas? We're so lucky to have magnificent galleries, mostly free to visit. Brynn going from 3rd Ltd point of view to 1st person was a little confusing, then introducing Will, took the reader into his head. 3rd omniscient is hard to write clearly and I'd recommend you stick to one pov (as I've been told in the past!) It makes the story easier to read) Overall its a nice story that follows through to a clear conclusion and I enjoyed reading it, we...

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Annie Hewitt
15:21 Mar 27, 2024

Thank you so much! I so appreciate your feedback. Readability is the goal and any and all feedback to improve that is fantastic!! Thanks so much

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Annie Hewitt
09:22 Mar 29, 2024

I've been thinking about what you mentioned about 3rd person and 1st person flipping and going into Will's head making the story confusing. I'm trying to figure out how to convey the internal insecurities of both people without being in both of their heads. I'm not sure how that can be done without doing that. I thought using the ellipses was a good indication that there was a separation in the story. I guess not clear enough. If anyone has any other ideas, I'm all ears! Thanks

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Kristi Gott
20:18 Mar 25, 2024

The descriptions of the art and museum make the setting vivid and drew me into the world of the story. Skillful writing and a clever storyline concept. Well done!

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Annie Hewitt
21:32 Mar 25, 2024

Thank you so much. I appreciate that you read it and the feedback. It means a lot!!

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John Rutherford
14:47 Mar 23, 2024

Cute story Annie. Thanks for sharing.

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Annie Hewitt
21:33 Mar 25, 2024

Thanks! I really appreciate that you took the time to read it.

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