Borders and Barriers

"He made her into a crashlander who was seeing reality for the first time, and she was happy to plummet."
When someone hears the name Emelia Archer they think of the Instagram famous trendsetter, the daughter of Archer Enterprises, and the one who crashed herself into a scandal.
When someone hears the name Jackson Andrews they go...huh? Then they think of the art-loving boy, the one who stayed in the shadows for the fun of it.
Push those two opposites together and you've got a story, maybe not a love story, but a story nonetheless.

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7. Art is everywhere we look.

 

Chapter Seven

 

Art is everywhere we look.

Including ourselves

Because who couldn’t count

The intricacies of the human body

And mind

as seamless art?

 

Jackson

His comfort zone grew after that. He went to the diner more and although he didn’t talk to anyone but the Croft’s and Emelia, he felt better that he was improving. He hadn’t gone on his own either, but he didn’t feel the need for that yet. 

He also carried around his sketchbook every time he went into the diner and sketched out a rough idea for the sign.

He was coming around to the idea and the craft shop held everything that he needed to do it. He had brought pastels this time and the sides of his hands were smudged with hues of green and blues from where he roughly shaded in trees and lakes.

“You are going to do it, I can tell,” Emelia muttered from where she was stacking creamer packets on top of one another. She had made a tower fit for a Disney princess and was steadily ignoring the face of Mary Croft in the corner.

Jackson glared at her. He could have said something about her mission to perfect her Harper persona, the girl looking for a new hobby while waving Mary’s attempts to get her to learn how to cook. Jackson didn’t know why she refused but he didn’t want to pry.

“You do know that if you want to capture the lakes properly you’ll have to visit them first?” she said and laughed when he looked up from his sketchbook with a dazed expression.

The Croft’s agreed with her, when he asked them, and even went as far to give him the ultimatum of either going to the lakes or going to their house to look at photos of the lakes. Jackson’s argument was that he had enough photos from his brothers to know what it looked like but another part of him itched to do an observational drawing, to press a flower into the final page of his sketchbook and have something real between his fingertips.

The Croft’s didn’t know the extent of his social insecurities, but he had alluded to them. Therefore, they understood why it took him days and plenty of research to finally make it up to the lake. He had Emelia scout it out several times to make sure that people weren’t about, and he researched to see whether Trinity was on their tourist period or not – they weren’t, their families had made sure of it to prevent being recognised.

Then he and Emelia walked through the trees, stopping several times for Jackson to quickly sketch a plant or tree. It felt good to be able to draw something that was right in front of his eyes, not something inspired by photos online or from his imagination. He felt grounded and the emotion solidified once they reached the lake.

It was roughly circular, looking cold and glasslike underneath a cloud torn sky. It was framed by miles of trees and had a small dock at the end of its walkway. Jackson snapped a few photographs on his phone and Emelia sat cross-legged on the dock with a book on her lap as he cracked open his sketchbook.

“I’ve never attempted drawing, what’s it like?” Emelia asked as rough outlines of the lake were applied to a page.

Jackson looked up and found that the book was the hobby nonfiction that she had taken to carrying around. “Art is doing something you think you’re good at and staring at it until you hate it. The trick is to keep going, keep spending time on it and doing that until you don’t hate it. It’s fine lines and colours you didn’t know existed. Poetry in a visual form really,” he rounded the conversation off when he thought he was rambling, and Emelia looked pensive.

“I don’t think I’m good at it,” she concluded, flipping the page.

“No one’s born a good artist, it’s not something that is coded for in our genes, we have to work at it to get anywhere,” he looked her in the eyes before going back to the page. He did some small sketches first, different angles and different perspectives to get the hang of what he was drawing, and then a piece that took up a whole A4 page. He coloured and reminded himself to try it with paint once he got back to the cabin, using the photographs he had taken for reference.

He watched as the early morning slipped into later hours, glad that Emelia had the hindsight to pack sandwiches and drinks.

When he emerged from his art fuelled haze he found Emelia with a closed book and her eyes on the lake. She stood and made her way to the edge, looking down into the water and then to the sky. She looked like she didn’t know what she was doing or who she was and when the wind grabbed at her she let it. It whipped her hair around her face as she turned back towards him, her eyes hidden by the mane of auburn-blonde locks. Jackson knew exactly what he was doing when he picked up his phone and snapped a quick photo of her. She looked wild and yet different from the Love Queen disguise she had adopted in the past. He hid his phone as her hands came up to her hair and she smiled in between the strands.

“You should jump in,” she said, “I packed towels and it will do you some good to shed the perfect decorum that you’ve got bottled up.”

“But the water will be cold,” he whined, spraying his sketchbook pages to prevent the pastels from blurring into one another. He knew that he was acting like a child but a secret part of him didn’t want to become a cliché since the photo stuck on the fridge of his brother was taken exactly on this dock.

“Shed your turtle skin, maybe you’ll find some fun in it,” she suggested, grinning up at him, “The cold could shock some sense into you actually.”

He pondered on it for a few moments. If he took his leap of faith, this daring suggestion, it would serve as a fuck you to his anxiety and put him onto the road of recovery. The least it could do was wipe the pastel smudging’s from his skin. It couldn’t do the opposite and send him reeling backwards. In the end, he had nothing to lose.

His hands found the bottom of his t-shirt and he threw it over his head and onto the wood of the dock. He leaned over to roll up the bottom of his jeans, removing his phone from his pocket and his watch from his wrist. He looked over his shoulder to find Emelia watching him, her gaze scrutinising but not roving.

“You have to jump in to, after me of course,” he joked and stepped back. If he was going to do this, then he was going to do it right. Once he was far away enough from the lake he started to run, his heart pounding as he got closer to the edge. Then he leapt off, arcing upwards with his arms outstretched. He free fell for a second before the water pounded against his legs and then his chest. It was cold like he had guessed but not deathly, and he sunk, revelling in the feeling of holding his breath and squeezing his eyes shut against the pressure. Then he emerged, breaking the surface like a lid freshly opened and his eyes opened to the water lapping against his shoulders, legs beating underneath him like a lullaby. He felt refreshed and revitalised like he had woken up from a dream.

“That was awesome!” he called back to Emelia who stood looking at him in amusement, her phone in hand. His eyes narrowed but he didn’t ponder on it. Instead, she smiled and shrugged out of her green overshirt, stepping out of her jeans and shoes. He looked away for a moment in shyness, not believing that she had stripped almost to near nakedness just to get into a lake with him, but it made sense.

She dived neatly, her body like the letter n as she entered the water, swimming the brief distance to him and breaking the surface with a whip of her hair. “You didn’t tell me how cold it was!”

“Now look who is whining?” he questioned. They spent hours swimming, cloud watching as they floated on their backs, splashing each other with water and holding their breath underneath the surface. Eventually, they dragged themselves onto the dock, wrapping towels around their shoulders like a cape and drying off enough to dress again.

Jackson felt exhilarated even when he blinked water out of his eyes. He couldn’t stop smirking even when he picked a wildflower from the edge of the dock and pressed it into the back page of his sketchbook, packing it away with the realisation that their swim had come to an end.

They may have walked back to the cabin in silence, but they didn’t need words, not that time.

“Did you take a photo of me when I jumped into the lake?” he questioned as he unpacked their bags. She didn’t answer but a moment later he heard his phone chime.

“Did you take a photo of me at any time during that trip?” she replied and retreated to her room when her phone chimed in turn.

The photo Emelia had taken idealised the version Jackson wanted to be all the time. He looked carefree and birdlike, feet arranged delicately but his back looking strong with flexing muscles. It had been timed perfectly, a second before he had plunged into the lake and as he retreated to his own room, their conversations done for the day, he uploaded it to his Instagram.


He was woken sometime during the night to the light of his phone blinking on and off on his nightstand. He had a series of texts, several from his family and one from Emelia herself.

I know that your Instagram is private but why?? – Michael

It’s good to know that you’re finally using the account I set up for you – Michael

You’re not a hermit after all – Ethan

I’m glad that you’re having a good time, honey – Mom

I never knew that you had an Instagram since you seem to hate social media altogether – Emelia.

He smiled into the darkness, texting only his mother and Emelia back. He found that honesty poured from him when it came to the latter text.

My brother set it up for me because he thought that all of us should have it. Its private so only a few people know about it and I didn’t really want to update it until now. Although I kind of hate social media it is good for publicity, its why I used it for my art account instead of my personal one (@jaart)

He knew that she wouldn’t get it because of the late hour but he felt comforted knowing that she cared. He would have to ask how she knew; she hadn’t been following him before but now she was.

He slept easily knowing that he had a conversation starter for the next morning.

 

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