Who I Pretend to Be

Why did he have to go and ruin it all?
After four minutes of peaceful painting with Hayley, Corey arrives. That short Japanese boy means so much to me even though it all started out as a joke. He tosses his books down on the desk behind me and I beam the biggest smile I’ve got his way.
“What are you up to?” he asks.
“You look happier than usual.”
“I’m just happy,” I admit.
He sits down and starts twirling around wet paint brushes, singing a waltz. Water splashes in my eye.
“What are you up to?” I giggle.
“It’s a paint brush ballet!” he declares like I should already know.
“What’s gotten into you?” I tease. “You’re acting like a blond.”
“Woah! I’m acting like you! You’re contagious! You’re inside my head.”
We both crack up. I feel like crying.
I’m not rubbing off on him. Who I pretend to be is.
He starts splashing water into paint, calling it a fireworks show. If Corey can be himself, so can I.
“I’m sad,” I confess. But Corey’s too busy with his paintbrush ballet, and Hayley’s too busy watching.

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