I look up to see Hayley, my fox-frenzied art buddy.
“Oh!” I start, “I’m just tired. You’re early.”
“Yeah, I didn’t go to my locker after chorus this time,” she explains. “I wanted to get to art on time.”
I shoot her the best smile I can do when I was still planning on four minutes recollection time.
She pulls out her chair and sits down, watching me smiling the whole time.
Hopefully I don’t have any tear stains, I hope.
“You sure you’re okay?” she checks.
“Yeah,” I confirm. “Just tired.”
I keep smiling as I fetch a cup of water and Hayley snatches some paints and brushes.
We start painting and humming songs from chorus.
If we can keep this up, I assume, then I should be able to put on this act until I get home. Or at least on the bus…
I still feel like crying, but not as bad. Sitting here with Hayley, painting, humming, giggling over the days events, I can be myself for the most part. The pressure is off, and I can relax. I am fake no longer. And on my face there is a Real Smile.