A Blank Page - Chapter 4


A Blank Page
Chapter 4
By Flummox


Raymond watched as Sebastian pulled into the school parking lot and parked his vehicle carefully. His brother and sister sat together in the front seat of his brother’s car, while Ray sat alone in the back. The three students carpooled today, celebrating the beginning of another school year. Sebastian looked forward to being a senior, with all the prestige and perks that honor entailed. Evalyn, always one to love school, relished being back--this year as an upperclassman—a junior.

Ray didn’t quite share his siblings’ excitement. As waves of apprehension washed over Ray, he realized just how much he had changed over the summer. Still, though, he could only imagine how his classmates would react to the new and improved Raymond. Would they approve? He knew he could handle the coursework, and looked forward to being a studious ninth grader. His peers, though--THEY frightened him more than anything else. Just the mere thought of interacting with them tied his stomach in knots!

Not for the first time that morning, his siblings reassured him and told him to relax. Gathering their bags, the threesome exited the vehicle and began the short walk from the parking lot up to the school. Inside, the halls buzzed with activity, as excited students, eager to see their friends and favorite staff, talked about their summers and just caught up in general.

Wishing Ray good luck, Sebastian and Evalyn quickly said their goodbyes as they disappeared to join the rush of students. Raymond just walked over to one of the many notice boards that had been set up for the first day of school. Finding the notice boards for ninth graders, Ray quickly searched for his name. Finding it, he noted his homeroom, and its teacher. Raymond smiled when he saw that he had Mr. Michaelson. The stern middle aged man had come to his defense last spring. Wasting no time, Raymond set off in the direction of the class.

Ray couldn’t help but notice his classmates' stares. They had begun as soon as he walked into the school, and continued as he headed to homeroom. More than ever before, his classmates were noticing him. He even caught a girl blatantly staring at, but she turned her head quickly when he met her gaze.

Oh God. He must look ridiculous. That must be why they’re staring.

Uncomfortable, Ray picked up his pace, and soon arrived in front of Mr. Michaelson’s room. Peeking through the doors, he saw that the classroom was still devoid of students. Mr. Michaelson sat behind his desk, peering through his reading glasses at a variety of documents.

Spotting the boy, Mr. Michaelson looked up, removing his reading glasses as he did so.

“Good morning Raymond!” he said cheerfully, “I’m glad to see you’re here on time, but you are aware that homeroom won’t officially start for another half an hour with it being the first day of school. Right?”

“Yeah,” Ray replied, “The halls are just a bit too chaotic for me right now.” He explained, “Would it be okay if I just sat down? I won’t be a bother.”

“I believe that would be fine.” Agreed Mr. Michaelson, going back to his paperwork.

Raymond chose a desk at the back of the room, sat down his backpack, and pulled out his latest novel. Before he knew it, other students began to slowly file into the room. He recognized most of them and knew many of their names, although he knew none of them on a personal level.

“Who’s that?” he heard one girl whisper to another, looking right at him, “He’s cute.”

Ray desperately tried to refrain from blushing and pretended not to have heard.

“Wait. Oh my gosh.” He heard her friend gasp in realization, “Is that Raymond?!”

“No way.” The first girl replied, “Raymond is fat and gross. That guy’s the complete opposite—he’s beautiful!”

“Who’s Raymond?” A third voice asked.

“You know Sebastian and Evalyn Danahy?” The second voice prompted.

“Well obviously,” The third voice replied, as if it were the most well known fact in the world, “They’re two of the most popular kids at the school. Sebastian is a star athlete, and Evalyn is, like, always the top of her class, and absolutely gorgeous.”

“Exactly.” Came the first voice again, “and Raymond is the complete opposite of both of them. Fat and ugly, with no friends. All he ever did was play video games and read weird books. Sebastian and Evalyn got all the brains and good looks in that family.” She finished with a laugh.

Finally, Ray had had enough. He put his book down and turned to look at the girls.

“Are you fucking serious?” he asked. “You have the nerve to talk about someone like that right in front of them? What’s your problem?”

Finally seeing his face, the first girl’s eyes went wide with shock as she realized that he WAS in fact Raymond Danahy.

“Uh, umm, s-sorry Ray,” She stammered, “you just look so different! I didn’t realize it was you until just now!”

“Is that supposed to justify your actions?” He asked incredulously, “You think it’s okay to publicly mock and belittle someone just because you don’t think they’re present? Even if I wasn’t Raymond Danahy, I’d still be pissed. People like you disgust me.”

With that, he stood up and walked away, going to find a place to sit where he wouldn’t have to listen to her. He hadn’t realized how much attention his outburst had drawn. His anger was a blessing at that instance, as the fury that was still raging through him prevented him from getting self-conscious and panicking from the attention.

He took a seat at the front of the room, as far from the girl as he could get.

The girl was still desperately trying to run damage control, trying to take back what she had said, but from the disapproving glares being cast at her from around the room, it was clear that that wasn’t going to go over well.

Mr. Michaelson stood up. “Alright kids, it’s time to talk.” He announced, walking to the front of the room, “But first, Ray, you’ll be serving detention over lunch with me. This is a catholic school. We don’t use language like that here.”

Ray nodded. It annoyed him, as he was just defending himself, but he had known Mr. Michaelson was strict when he said it.

“As for you Amanda. Your lunches for the next two weeks will be spent with me.”

Her jaw dropped in shock.

“Ray was exactly right,” their instructor continued, “it doesn’t matter whether the person you’re talking about is in the room or not. Talking about someone like that is completely unacceptable. Ray has clearly worked very hard to change himself over the summer. How do you think he must feel for those to be the first words he hears on the first day of classes?”

Amanda looked at her feet in shame.

Raymond felt a mixture of pride and embarrassment at the instructor’s comments. He found himself blushing once again.

“No arguments then? Good. Lets move on.”

Mr. Michaelson began to begin the yearly introductions: what they could expect as grade 9 students, what their schedules would be like, and how much homework they could expect. He told them that as per tradition after lunch they could have the rest of the day to do with as they wished, whether that meant going home early, hanging out with friends, or visiting their favorite teachers, and that classes would officially start the next day.

Lunch soon arrived, and while Ray fully expected to spend it sitting in Mr. Michaelson’s classroom, he had not expected the mob of students that crowded around him. They began asking him various questions, how he had spent his summer, what he was planning on doing after lunch, what his phone number was, and so on.

Raymond, completely taken aback by the sudden attention, found himself at a loss for words. His panic rising steadily, he sighed in relief as Mr. Michaelson rescued him from the unwanted advances of his peers.

“Raymond is serving a detention.” The man said sternly. “That means he’s being punished. Unless you all intend to join him in detention, be on your way. If you DO want to join him for detention, just keep in mind that there will be no talking.”

That was all it took. They left, promising Ray that they’d talk later.

“Thanks Mr. Michaelson.” Ray said, looking at the teacher.

“What are you thanking me for?” the teacher said with a smirk, “I just told them the truth.”

When lunch was over, Amanda walked up to Ray as he was getting his things together.

“I just want to say I really am sorry,” she said when he looked at her suspiciously, “I wasn’t thinking about how my words might hurt you. I was just trying to get your attention. I did say you were beautiful.” She finished with a blush.

Ray nodded slowly, “No worries. I’m used to it.” He turned to walk away.

“Well you shouldn’t be you know!” she called after him.

He turned back to look at her, one eyebrow raised in confusion over her last comment.

“Used to it I mean,” She said, “No one should be used to being insulted. That’s sad.”

“And you really do look good.” She said with a blush before rushing out of the room.
 

~o~O~o~

 
A short time later Ray walked into the art room. Ms. Mira stood with her back turned to him, catching up with some other students. Ray sat his bag down on one of the art tables and patiently waited for them to leave.

A few minutes later they said their goodbyes and Ms. Mira turned to see who had entered.

Upon seeing him her eyes scrunched up in confusion, before going wide with shock as her jaw dropped in recognition.

“RAY?!” She exclaimed, “OH MY-“

Realizing she had said that a bit TOO loud, she lowered her voice, “Oh my goodness! You look incredible! Evalyn stopped by earlier saying you looked a bit different, but WOW.”

Ray couldn’t help but blush at her reaction, “C’mon Ms. Mira, it’s really not that big of a deal, I’m still me.”

“I mean, yeah,” she continued excitedly, “Of course your still you, but, I dunno, I feel like this is the you you were meant to be!”

Ray didn’t know why, but that comment made him uncomfortable, “I dunno”, he responded awkwardly.

The two spent the next half hour catching up, telling each other about their summers.

Finally, as he was getting ready to leave, he asked her the one question he had been pondering all summer.

“So, uh, I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and if it’s not too much trouble I think I’d like to enter that art gallery competition you told me about last spring.” He tried to sound and look confident, but quickly lost it and he rushed to add, “If it’s not too late.”

This ushered in another uncharacteristic squeal of excitement. “I’m so happy to hear that!” she said once she had regained her composure, “Technically no, it’s not to late, but the deadline for submissions is Friday. I’m not sure if you’ll be able to make 5 pieces of sufficient quality by then.” She said disappointedly.

Ray smiled, “What if I told you I had finished all 5 pieces over the summer?”

“I don’t know why I ever worried.” She said, playfully swatting his arm, “Do you think you could bring them in tomorrow? Then I could go over them with you on Wednesday, and submit them on Thursday with time to kill. And since you’re only, what? 14 now?” She hazarded a guess.

At his nod, she continued, “I’ll need you to take home some waivers and permission slips for your parents to sign. Also, I have to ask, does this mean you’ve gotten over your shyness and are ready to share your work with others?”

“Uhhh,” he hesitated.

That was all she needed to hear. She gave him a sad smile, “If you want to did this, you know you’re going to have a lot of people looking at your work, right? YOU and your work.”

He looked down at his feet, “I just figured I’d cross the bridge when I came to it. I don’t know.”

“It’s okay Raymond, we’ll figure it out.” She reassured him, “Now you get running, I see your brother and sister waiting in the hall for you. I’ll get those permission slips and waivers for you tomorrow.”

With a nod and a quick goodbye, Ray rushed out to meet his siblings.

“Hey Bro!” Sebastian called in greeting.

“How was your first day?” Evalyn asked.

“Hey Seb! Hey Eva!” Ray said happily, “I got detention! It was great! How about you guys?”

Sebastian and Evalyn stood there dumbstruck for a moment.

“Wait, what?” Asked Sebastian, “My day was good, but what?”

Ray and Evalyn just laughed, Sabastian joining in a moment later.

Together the three Danahys left the school with the envious eyes of many students upon them.
 

~o~O~o~

 
That night at dinner each of the children told the family their stories of the first day. His parents had the same reaction to his detention as his siblings, but his family understood, one Ray gave them the full explanation. They were even proud of him for standing up for himself.

Ray didn’t mention the art gallery to his family yet. As much as he wanted to, he just couldn’t get the words out. Evalyn had an odd look on her face after he finished though. After dinner he helped his mom clean up before heading to his room for some gaming.

“Hey lil’ bro!” his sister called quietly from her room when he reached the top of the stairs.

Ray noticed her door was slightly ajar; she had been watching for him. She beckoned him over with a finger, closing her door behind him.

“Okay, spill it.” She began, “What did you leave out at dinner."

“W-what? I, uh, don’t know what you mean.” Ray said nervously.

“C’mon bro.” She said sceptically, “We both know I’ve always been able to read you like a book.”

With a heavy sigh, Ray explained everything about the art gallery, how he wanted to do it, but was terrified to do it.

“Why are you so afraid?” She asked him.

“I dunno.” He said miserably. “Maybe it’s cuz I’m a failure.” He said, degrading himself.

“Hey now,” his sister said sternly, “None of that self pity nonsense. There has to be a reason why.”

Slowly, she coaxed it out of him.

“For as long as I can remember, I’ve been uncomfortable in my own body.” He began reluctantly, “And it’s like… whenever there’s any attention on me that discomfort is multiplied exponentially. My chest seizes up and I feel like I can’t breathe or talk or do anything at all. Then the tears start welling up, and that just makes it worse.”

He looked up from his feet, expecting her to be laughing at him, but she just watched him quietly, giving him her full attention. He continued.

“I think that constant inescapable feeling is why I retreated into myself for so long. I only started making an effort again last spring. And I thought—I was convinced—that my discomfort would go away as I lost weight and got in better shape. I thought I could be like you and Sebastian, so at ease in my body… But I’m not.” His voice wavered. A tear rolled down his cheek.

“It feels like my skin doesn’t fit. And sometimes it’s so painful. There only two things that make me feel a little better.”

He hesitated there. Unsure whether he could continue.

“What are those things Ray?” His sister prompted gently.

“No, never mind, forget it. It’s stupid.” He said, getting up to leave.

“No.” Evalyn said firmly, grabbing his hand and pulling him over to sit next to her on her bed. “Tell me, and I swear, I will not mock you or laugh, and I will not speak a word of it to anyone.”

With a heavy sigh and a sniffle, Ray continued.

“As stupid as it sounds, the first thing is the video games I play. In those games, I can be anyone. Anywhere. The people I play with online? I can be myself with them without any fear of backlash or mockery. Even if they’re mean, I can just block them, and I NEVER have to deal with them again. My best friend. My only friend besides you and Seb, is just a guy on the internet who I’ve never even met in real life. But that’s fine with me, spending time with him makes me feel better.”

“And the second thing?” Evalyn asked quietly.

With a deep breath, Ray continued.

“The second thing is my art. When I start drawing, or painting, or whatever. I just lose myself in the process. Everything else ceases to exist. The pain and discomfort goes away. I can breathe. But… showing my work to people? That’s like… it’d be like showing them all my insecurities. If they rejected my work… they’d be rejecting me. And I’d never be able to free myself through my art again. I’d just retreat back into myself.”

The tears flowed freely now, he looked at his sister, and to his surprise she cried too.

She pulled him into her embrace.

“Why didn’t you tell me this before you big dummy.” She admonished gently.

She held him and together they cried.

Finally, after several minutes, they separated.

Sniffling, Evalyn spoke.

“We need to tell Mom, Dad, and Seb.” She said seriously.

“N-no. No no no. We can’t.” Ray replied, terrified.

“Ray,” she said, gently taking his hand, “They can help. They’ll understand.”

“NO! Please Eva. I can’t tell them. The only reason I told you was because you knew something was wrong, and I knew I couldn’t hide it from you. But I can’t tell them too.”

She looked like she wanted to say more.

“Please Eva. Please.” He begged, “You can’t tell them.”

Biting her lip, Evalyn finally relented. “Fine. Okay fine.”

“I do have an idea though” She said, a sly smile coming to her lips.

Ray looked at her curiously.

“What if you entered the art gallery under and alias?”

“An alias?” Ray asked, incredulously, “I don’t know how I feel about lying about who I am. And how would that even help?”

“Don’t think about as lying about who you are. Think about it like…” She frowned, trying to think of a good way to explain it. Her eyes lit up.

“When you play online with your friends you use a screenname right?” She asked, “You don’t go as Raymond Danahy right?”

“Of course,” he answered instantly, “Everyone does. It’s weird and potentially unsafe to use your real name.”

“Exactly. Think about it the same way.” She explained, “You could attend the art gallery under an assumed name, in disguise. It would still be you. It would still be your art. You just wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Even if someone rejected your work, it would be just like what you do with the mean people online, you would block them, and then as Raymond you would never have to deal with them again.”

Ray nodded slowly in understanding, “Th- That could work.” He said, “I think I could do that.”

He nodded more confidently, “No, I definitely could do that. But the disguise would have to be good. No one could recognize me.” He finished.

“You let me worry about the disguise. You just worry about getting Mom and Dad’s signature, and getting Ms. Mira to agree to the use of an alias.”

Ray nodded. With one last sniffle, he stood to leave, “Thanks for everything Eva. You’re the best.”

“Anytime. And Ray? Ever hide something like this from me again and I WILL kick your ass.”
 

~o~O~o~

 
Ray went to bed immediately afterwards, exhausted. He woke the next morning feeling surprisingly light hearted, and got ready for the first real day of classes. Evalyn gave him a ride to school so he wouldn’t have to carry his artwork on the bus. His first stop was to the art room to quickly store his work in his art locker before rushing into Homeroom at the last minute.

To his initial displeasure, he had gym class first thing in the morning that semester.

Ray finished his laps ahead of the rest of the class, much to their shock. Surprised and pleased with his accomplishment, Ray practically beamed. Apparently, very few students kept up with Mr. McMan’s workout regimen over the summer, whereas Ray had been running and swimming almost every day. He had slowly worked up to running at a comfortable pace for 45 minutes straight, being able to hold up a conversation with his brother throughout the whole thing. Compared to that this was easy. He wasn’t even out of breath at the end of the run.

After everyone finished, Mr. McMan came up and clapped him on the shoulder, “Way to go son! Great hustle out there! See? I always knew you could do it, you’ll be a football star like you me and your big brother in no time!”

Fury and disgust rolled through him. Ray smacked the instructors hand away.

“Don’t. Touch. Me. And don’t you DARE call me son.” Ray spat with disgust.

The room was dead quiet.

“Let’s get one thing straight.” Ray said, “I am ONLY here, because it’s a requirement for graduation. I would rather be anywhere else than in a room with you, but to do that I would be letting my family down.”

“All I ever did was motivate you. I don’t know why you’re so upset.” Said Mr. McMan indignantly.

“MOTIVATE ME?!” Ray shouted, “All you EVER did was humiliate and degrade me. Motivation is what my brother gave me. He ran with me every day. He encouraged me. He taught me how to make healthy choices. You’re twice his age, but he’s already 10 times the man you’ll ever be, so don’t try to compare yourself to him. You’re just a washed-out has-been, whereas he’s going places, and even if I had any interest at all in sports, I sure as hell wouldn’t play on your team.”

Ray suddenly became very aware that every eye in the room was on him.

“You little shit.” Spat Mr. McMan, “You’re pathetic. You’ll never amount to anything.”

Ray opened his mouth, no words came out, he looked around, his classmates were staring. His chest tightened. He tried to focus on his breathing when he saw Mr. McMan raise his hand threateningly.

“ANDY.” Came a voice full of authority from the gym’s entrance. Everyone’s head spun to the doors where Mrs. Clarke, the principal of the school, stood.

“Tell me you were not just about to strike a student.” Came the quiet furious voice that left everyone in the room straining to listen.

“H- h- he disrespected me!” Mr. McMan stuttered, taken off guard.

“My office.” She seethed, “Now.”

“But I have a class to teach!” argued the gym teacher.

“It’s gym. That hardly classifies as teaching.” She mocked, before pointing at the nearest student, “You, arrange a game of dodgeball while your teacher and I have a little talk.”

“Y- yes ma’am!” The girl said before quickly starting the process of organizing the group into teams.

As the menacing eyes shifted away, Reay felt as if he could breath again. He had started walking to the changing rooms the moment Mrs. Clarke had made her appearance. He had to get out of here. Before the eyes came back. The principal had clearly seen him turn to leave but didn’t object to Ray’s great relief.

Quickly changing back into his normal clothes Ray slipped out the back of the changing rooms into empty halls, just as he had several months earlier, and just as he had then, he headed to the art room.

He caught Ms. Mira in the middle of teaching a class with the grade 7 art students who had just started at the school. He was about to walk away from the door when Ms. Mira spotted him and called out, “C’mon in Ray!”

Aaaaaaaand the 10 pairs of eyes immediately turned to look at him. His breathing became labored. He just stood there outside the doors. Unable to do anything. Again.

Just as some of the grade 7 students started to whisper to each other Ms. Mira took his hand and pulled him into the room.

“This, class, is Raymond Danahy.” She said, introducing him to the class, “He is one of the most talented student’s I’ve had the privilege of teaching. Say hello class!”

There was small chorus of hellos from the younger students.

Ray opened his mouth, but words wouldn’t come out, he closed his moth swallowing nervously. This got some giggles out of the class.

“Sorry guys,” came a voice from behind him.

His sister, God bless her, his wonderful sister, came up from behind him and wrapped her arm around his shoulder.

“My little brother Ray here is a little shy, so be patient with him,” she explained, capturing their attention with the power of her charisma alone, “My name is Evalyn Danahy” she introduced herself.

She walked forward some more, “So what are you guys working on?” she asked kindly.

After a small pause, one girl piped up, “We’re learning about different mediums and the seven principles of design.”

“Oh really?” Evalyn said, “That sounds interesting, I hope you’ll excuse me, but unlike my little bro here, I’m no artist. What’s a medium?”

Another student, a young boy, piped up, “Mediums are the materials artists use to make their art!”

“Ooooooh” Evalyn began, nodding in understanding, “So that would be, like, all the different paints and pencils, right?”

Various student’s nodded and called out confirmations.

“So then,” Evalyn continued, “What the heck are those seven principles of design? Is Mrs. Clarke one of them?” she asked jokingly.

The class laughed and the first student, the girl, spoke again, “Nooooo, not principals, principles!”

Soon Evalyn had drawn the whole group into a discussion about what Ms. Mira had taught them so far, giving Ms. Mira a chance to draw Ray off to the side to talk.

“I don’t understand.” Ray said, confused, now that he wasn’t the center of attention he could breath again, and his brain caught up, “how did you know I was coming? You spotted me immediately.”

“Mrs. Clarke paged me right after you left the gym,” she explained, “She thought you might be headed my way, and asked that I invite you in and keep you here until she speaks to you. As for your sister, I have no idea, but I would assume Mrs. Clarke did that as well.”

Ray nodded in understanding, the ramifications of what he’d said beginning to fill his mind, covering his face with his hands he groaned, “Oh my goodness, I’m gonna be in sooooo much trouble.”

Ms. Mira laughed quietly, “Relax Ray, you’re sounding just like a girl.” She teased, “It’s not uncommon for boys your age to get into a bit of trouble. It can’t be that bad.”

Her remark barely phased Ray. “But I’ve NEVER been in trouble.” He explained, wide eyed, “Not real trouble! And you don’t know what I did.”

“Well what did you do?” she asked, “As long as you didn’t physically attack him, which I’m sure you didn’t, otherwise it’d be the police detaining you instead of the art teacher.”

“Ahhh, there’s a smile,” she teased, “Now can you stay right here? I do still have a class to teach. Feel free to do whatever you want.”

“Even go attack Mr. McMan?” Ray replied sarcastically.

“Well maybe not WHATEVER you want.” She said after a small laugh.

Ms. Mira and his Evalyn traded places after Evalyn thanked the class for teaching her.

Joining Ray, she immediately asked him what happened.

“First of all, how did you even know I’d be here Eva?” Ray asked, trying to put things together, “Did Mrs. Clarke send you?”

“Why would the principle send me?” she asked, confused by his remark, “You went right past my class room. I just happened to see you, so I followed.”

Ray’s eyes widened, “You ditched class to make sure I was okay?”

“Of course, You’re my little brother, and I knew it had to have been something serious for you to skip class. It’s just not like you.”

Ray quietly told her the whole story, when he got to the end, Evalyn’s eyes widened in shock.

“That bad huh? I’m really in for it, aren’t I?” he asked nervously.

“Ray, a TEACHER tried to HIT you.” She said quietly so the other students wouldn’t overhear. “I’m willing to bet that the only one in trouble here is McMan.” She said matter-of-factly.

Ray furrowed his eyebrows in confusion, “Then why would she ask Ms. Mira to keep me here if I’m not in trouble?”

“Ray, don’t take this the wrong way.” She began, “but you’ve always been more emotional than most guys your age, she probably knows that you can be a bit sensitive and wanted to make sure you were in a safe place.”

Ray, already self-conscious, didn't need to hear that he had another flaw, especially one as major as this. Giving thought to what Eva (and Ms. Mira) said, he grudgingly accepted the news. Emotional outbursts like he frequently displayed never seemed to happen to other guys.

“Oh god,” Evalyn began, feigning horror, “If it ever gets back to Seb that Mr. McMan tried to hit you then our big brother might become a murderer.”

The two talked for the rest of the period, when Ray finally succeeded in convincing her he’d be fine and she could go to her next class.

“Hmmmm,” she said thoughtfully as she began to leave, “I enjoyed talking with those students. Maybe I should be a teacher.”

Ray just smiled.

Ms. Mira didn’t have another class until after lunch so he decided this would be a great time to talk to her about the art gallery.

“So I was talking with Eva last night,” he began.

“Eva?” Ms. Mira asked, not making the connection.

“Yeah Eva. Evalyn, My big sister.” He clarified.

“Oooooh, of course.” Ms. Mira nodded in understanding, “I had just never heard her be called that before.”

Ray giggled at some inside joke, “Yeah, when I was a baby learning how to speak I couldn’t pronounce ‘Sebastian’ or ‘Evalyn’, so I just called them ‘Seb’ and ‘Eva’. By the time I could say their names, the nicknames had stuck. Pretty much the whole family calls them that now.”

“Ah, I see.” Ms. Mira said, nodding, “Cute.”

“Anyways, as I was saying,” Ray continued, “We were talking, and she said had an idea that I think would really help me to share my work at the gallery” He explained.

He proceeded to explain to her the whole idea of entering under an alias with a disguise.

“I don’t know Ray; the whole idea seems kinda sketchy.” She said uncertainly, “I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with it.”

“Please Ms. Mira? You saw how I choked with just a couple grade 7 students in front of me. How can I expect to talk to a bunch of rich influential men and woman when I can’t even say hello to some little kids?”

“I see your point Ray, but I don’t see how a costume and fake name will help with that.”

“If I attend under a different name and look different, if it ends up being a bad experience for me, I could just shed the negative experience as I shed the alias. It wouldn’t have an impact on my life as Raymond Danahy. If I have to go as myself, I won’t be able to do it. I’ll choke and panic a lot worse than I did in front of those 7th graders.”

Nodding slowly in understanding, Ms. Mira agreed, “Fine, but in addition to the wavers and permission slips I’m going to be sending a letter home with you asking your parents if they’re okay with this. I’ll need all of them signed before we put in your submission. Deal?”

“Deal.”
 

~o~O~o~

 
Evalyn had been correct about the situation with Mr. McMan. Mrs. Clarke just wanted to ensure his safety. She had been aware of several complaints about Mr. McMan for sometime but hadn’t taken them seriously. as he was always an absolute professional in her presence. She didn’t approve of what Ray had said to the man. She couldn’t excuse a member of her staff raising his hand to a student. As he hadn’t actually struck Ray, he had gotten away with a mere month-long suspension without pay. That night the family heard whole story, his parents agreeing with how the situation had been handled. They believed a month-long suspension too lenient for his actions however.

After dinner Ray brought his parents an internet connectivity form, basically asking for his parent’s permission for Ray to use the school internet. They granted it with a quick signature and Ray retired for the night early, claiming to have been exhausted by the long day.

Back in his room Ray turned on his lamp and pulled out the permission forms his father and mother had each signed. Ray knew his parents, his mother in particular being a lawyer, would never approve of him attending the art gallery in disguise under an assumed name, so on a piece of scrap paper he began practicing their respective signatures. After about an hour, his hand was aching, but he had produced a fairly good forgery. He felt guilty as he signed his parent’s names on the waiver, permission, slip, and letter, but he HAD to do this, by whatever means necessary.
 



 
Howdy y'all!

Flummox here.

Bwah! It feels like all I do is apologize! This chapter is even later then the last, but I swear it's not my fault. I had some technical difficulties.
I'm really really sorry, but a few people told me the last chapter was good enough to earn forgiveness, so I can only hope this one is too!

I don't have much else to say. I just want to thank everyone who reads this for taking the time to do so. It means a lot to me. As always, I love to hear you're thoughts. So please, leave a comment, or shoot me a message. The encouragement I get from all of you is what keeps me going.

Stay wonderful.

Flummox.



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This story is 6004 words long.