Title- Eric's Sunrise
Author- Connie113, or just Connie.
Summary- A plump Art teacher Don Heafey tries to help a troubled teenager named Eric.
The Story So Far- Mark Dolan, another teacher, tells Don Heafey (art teacher) about this relative that's come to live with him [Eric Dessen]. Heafey takes Eric home, and a weird conversation evolved.
This Section's Summary- more talking, and Heafey confronts Eric a few times.
A/N: Thank you for reading this…I haven't posted for such a long time because it's not a lot, this is a short story, so I can't go by chapters…and I'm also working on other stuff, like an original novel Turning into a Butterfly (about a girl who needs self-confidence), and another Draco/Ginny fic (Two Months) in addition to the one I finished (Only Have Eyes for Her). And I'm trying to get a website to put my fanart on…which is very annoying, because I can't seem to find one! Ok, so please r/r!
There was a teachers' meeting in the morning a week after Heafey met Eric. The teachers gathered in the teachers' lounge, as the principal, Mr. McKinley, started to speak.
"Now, recently, I have noticed something about the flowers by the front of the school. Has anyone else noticed anything?"
A teacher spoke up at once. It was Mrs. Clara Klock, a plump and gray-haired lady. "They have been trampled on," she announced bitterly. "Some have even been pulled out by the roots, and their buds cut off. It is disgraceful to think one of our students could have done this."
Jeff McKinley nodded grimly. "We don't know who is behind this, and we are doing everything we can to find him or her. This school has not seen this kind of vandalism for a long time. Whoever is doing this is showing a lot of disrespect for Mother Nature. We need to stop this at once."
Mr. McKinley's words echoed in Heafey's mind long after the meeting. '…disrespect for Mother Nature…' The image of Eric flattening and destroying the grass on Dolan's front lawn suddenly flashed in his mind. It had to be the boy…
Heafey hurriedly finished his sandwich at lunch and left his classroom to hunt for Eric. Stepping lightly onto the quad, he shielded his eyes with his hand and looked around. There was no sign of him. Heafey walked to the cafeteria, searching. Then he saw a flash of red hair. It was Ginny, the girl Eric was talking to yesterday. And beside her stood Eric, hands in his pockets. He didn't look up when Heafey approached them, but Ginny did.
"Good afternoon, sir," she said pleasantly, smiling.
Heafey returned the smile. "Good afternoon, Miss Sullivan." He turned to Eric. "I'm here to talk to Mr. Dessen."
Eric turned to him sullenly. "Come with me, Eric," said Heafey. "I want to show you something." Sighing, Eric followed the teacher back to the Art classroom.
"Wait here," said Heafey as Eric sank into a chair. He went into the back room and came back with a covered canvas. "Ta-da!" he said, pulling off the cloth with a flourish.
Eric stared at the painting blankly. "Your point?"
"My point?!" cried Heafey, exasperated. He dusted off the dust with care from the canvas. "Eric, don't you feel something when you look at this?" The painting he showed the boy was the one of the sunrise, the one that showed Heafey so much hope in the new day that each sunrise brought. It was a symbol of hope, shown by paints.
The boy sighed impatiently. "Look, old man, all I feel right now is the heat of this crappy and stuffy room. I'm leaving." He got up, and was about the head out the door, when Heafey grabbed his arm roughly.
"Just hear me out, okay?" he snapped. "I'm trying to help you."
The boy gave a loud sigh, buried his hands in his pockets, and slunk back into the chair.
"Look at it, Eric," said Heafey, filled with inspiration. "It's a sunrise. Look at the colors, the orange and red and gold. Doesn't it seem to shine at you? The sun, there's only a part of it showing; it looks hesitant, but also confident. It's the hope that every new day brings. It's not much, but it's still there, and it can expand. Do you get it?"
Eric remained silent.
Frustrated, Heafey said, "Eric, isn't there anything that inspires you? Something you feel passionate about? A hobby you love? I have my art, but what about you?"
The question hung there, undisturbed by an answer. Abruptly, Eric stood up, and started to back out the door.
"Look Mr. Heifz, or whatever your name is. Why do you keep trying to help me or something? Because I can tell you right now, I don't need your help. I don't want your help. So just leave me alone, okay?" Glaring at the man, Eric turned around and rushed away.
Heafey sunk into a nearby chair, and sighed in exasperation. Here was a boy that didn't appreciate life, and Heafey did not know what to do. Eric had no feelings; Heafey suspected that the wound was too deep, too deep to heal overnight. If he was to help Eric, it would be hard. Here was a boy that did not love life's beauties. Heafey had never met a boy like Eric, without hopes, without dreams. And he wanted him to see what he saw everyday; the beauty of life, and the hope that keeps everyone alive. Heafey thought that maybe art would be the answer for Eric; it had been for him…
When Don Heafey's wife, Elaine, got cancer and died suddenly a few years after they were married, Heafey sank into depression. He just didn't have the will to live anymore. The one thing in his life that mattered was gone, and it was as if he was gone too. All his goals and dreams vanished; all of them had included his wife, and he didn't know what to do without her. He quickly lost his job in the computers field, and he became a misplaced man sitting at home everyday.
When he finally to a counselor, he remembered that he had majored in art in college. At that time, Heafey had not wanted to go into the arts after he graduated, and decided to become a computer engineer instead. However, in the months after his wife's death, desperately looking for a job, Heafey had chosen to become an art teacher at the local high school.
At first he was listless and gloomy; he did not want to teach art. But in the beginning of his second year at Meandor High School, a speaker had been called to the school to talk with the students. It was a motivational speaker, and Heafey took his class to listen, thus listening himself. After the talk Heafey was highly inspired. He was determined to make his life better, even in the absence of his wife. A week later, a painter knocked on his door, trying to sell some of his paintings. When Don Heafey saw that painting of the sunrise, he was mesmerized. It was exactly what he had been thinking of; the will to keep hoping, to keep dreaming. After that there was no stopping him, as he dove in art and started teaching his class with his heart.
"I don't know what to do with him," said Mark Dolan, voicing his troubles to Heafey on a rainy morning.
Don Heafey nodded slowly. It was exactly what he was thinking. It had been almost two weeks since he showed Eric the painting. They had avoided each other ever since. Each day Dolan would tell Heafey about the boy, how he wasn't home until 2 a.m. last night, how his clothes smelled of cigarette smoke every morning, or how he never answered when Dolan spoke to him.
"I-I don't know how much more I can take," said Dolan. "This—this, I can't do anything, Don, I feel so helpless," he sighed heavily. This wasn't the first time he had said that. "I think I might have to send him back."
"No!" said Heafey suddenly. "I mean, I don't know, Mark, I still see some hope in him," Dolan looked at him tiredly. "He—isn't there anything he loves to do? I tried Art with him, but I don't think it's right for him."
Dolan shook his head. "Don, the boy-" he stopped abruptly. "I've seen some of the…poems he's written. He didn't show me, of course. I went into his room. You wouldn't believe what he writes about, Don. Death. Killing. Blood. All the bad things in life," the man was exhausted. "I read one that looked okay, it was about butterflies, but then at the end they burn up."
Heafey was thoughtful, contemplating. "Poems? Mark, you know what this means? The boy isn't just some empty-headed idiot. He has a hobby."
"That's a nice way of putting it," said Dolan with a twisted smile. "The boy writes about burning up butterflies."
"Yeah," said Heafey, growing more and more excited. "That's where we come in. We have to teach him to write about positive stuff. You know, I really think we can do it."
Dolan shook his head. "It's fruitless, Don. He's not going to change his way of life just because of two old guys," he looked at his friend's face, which was avid with eagerness. "But I'll see what I can do, I suppose. I'm almost through, Don. He makes one more mistake and I'm sending him back."
"Alright," said Heafey. "Can I…come over after school to see his room? Maybe see one of his poems?"
"If you want to," said Dolan, getting up from his chair. "He never comes straight home after school. He doesn't have feelings."
"But Mark, you're an Language Arts teacher, you should know," said Heafey. "Poetry is a form of art. And humans have the arts because we have feelings. If we didn't have feelings, we'd just be math and science. We write poems to describe what we feel, our emotions. I think, that if Eric's writing poems, he's got to have feelings. Maybe it's just a spark; maybe he's mostly stone. But we can still do something about it."
Dolan smiled weakly. "Alright, do what you will. I think it's futile, but I hope I'm wrong. I do feel so sorry for him."
"So do I," said Heafey, as the bell rang loudly. "So do I."
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