This is a short story I wrote for an English class in high school. Looking back at it now, I can see some of the flaws in it--but I'll let you, dear reader, judge for yourself what those are. Here it is, verbatim, exactly as I submitted it to my teacher, for the world to see.

The False Portrait

Rob sat up stiffly as the ice-cold water splashed over his face. He sat up straight and looked left, then right-- and saw his sister's mischievous smile.

"Shut up, Arianna," he retorted grumpily. "I didn't ask you to get the water straight out of the bay."

"Well, all you told me was 'Wake me up tomorrow at daylight'." Her young voice rang over the gulls' cries outside in the thatched hut.

Rob sighed and shook his head side to side to wake himself up. "Well, I'm awake now, and there's no use in arguing about it. Get out so I can get dressed."

A few minutes later, Rob came out of the hut in a white shirt and frayed jeans. He was greeted by the soft roar of the ocean splashing against the cliffs below him.

"You're always so slow, Arianna," he called into the hut a few more minutes later. "If you're not dressed in two minutes, you won't be coming with me."

"That's not fair, big brother!" she whined, sticking her head out of the hut. "You said I could come if I remembered to wake you up."

"Well, hurry up, then!" Rob scowled silently. 'She always does this,' he thought.

Arianna walked out of the hut with her blue T-shirt rippling in the sea breeze.

"Now, I'm ready."

"You'd better be. It's a half-hour's walk to the city and I'm not going to be late just because 'your feet hurt.'" He said these last words in a mocking voice.

"H-- Hey! I can walk as far as you can on my own, O.K.?"

"Sure. Anyway, let's go." Rob and his sister set out on the road, leaving the waves behind.

Rob and Arianna made conversation while traveling on the forest road.

"So today, before I woke you up, I climbed all the way down to the shore. And I found all these seashells! You should've seen them, Rob! They were pink and purple and... They were so beautiful!"

"Yeah, well, I don't care much for seashells. Hey, what were you doing down there anyway? You know the waves are strong."

The girl stopped walking for a second, a flash of annoyance passing over her face. "I can handle myself! I'm not stupid enough to go during high tide." The 15-year old rolled her eyes. "Duh!"

"Sometimes I'm not so sure."

"What?" She stomped up to him, blocking his way on the road. "Hey, I can survive on my own! I don't need you to tell me what to do!"

"Oh, I think you do. I'm three years older than you are, remember? I've gotta teach you right from wrong since Mom and Dad died on the cruise."

She became startled at the memory of her parents, and then she stammered, "Yeah? Well, uh... You think you know everything, Rob! Well, guess what? You don't!" She passed him on the road, muttering to herself. "I could take care of myself if I had some..." Her voice trailed off as she approached the bend in the road.

Rob sighed, his breath flipping up his dark hair. 'Oh, great. Now she's mad.' He jogged off after her. "Hey, wait up!"

Eventually, the two reached the town. They walked through the ornate archway that greeted hundreds of visitors a day.

"I forgot how big this town was," Arianna said, her anger forgotten in a moment of awe. Her face darted around, taking in the vivid colors of the nearby houses and the smells of the marketplace. Even the dull, indigo-colored cobblestone road took on a vibrant quality in her eyes.

"I've got to get to my job," Rob said in a busy voice. "Here's ten tristas. Go ahead and treat yourself."

She pouted for a moment, and then took the coins. "You're not going to buy me out, Rob; I'm still mad at you."

"Did it ever occur to you that I don't care?"

"Well, um... uh..." For once, Arianna was at a loss for words. "I'll see you at dusk," she snapped. She walked down Main Street, fuming inwardly. 'Stupid Rob and his stupid level head.'

While Rob worked at the blacksmith's every day, Arianna only got to go once a week, so she spent the day away shopping. As she exited a bakery with a small loaf of bread a few hours later, she was stopped on the street.

"Excuse me, miss!" The strange man said. He looked to be about 16, and a bit taller than she was.

Arianna stopped, her cheeks blushing red as she held a bite of bread in her mouth. She gulped it and took a big breath.


"Well, you see, miss, I was wondering if, ahem... wondering if I could, uh, paint your portrait?"

"Me, a portrait? Why me?"

"Well, who wouldn't paint a portrait of your red hair and blue eyes? They're quite a rare combination around here, and it'll surely attract customers."

"Well, I came from a place a long way from here--"

"Tourist, are you? Well, no matter. Come, let me show you to my studio."

Arianna thought he'd never get done. Half of the time he just sat there, gazing at her. 'Come on and finish already! I've gotta meet Rob in a few minutes!' The sinking sun cast a long shadow against the soft, white studio wall.

"Well, miss, it seems I'll have to finish tomorrow. I've lost the light, you see."

"But we only come here once a week!" She sighed. "Can I at least see what you've got so far?"

His face gave a flash of panic. "Uh, no, miss, I only show off my works when they're finished. I'm afraid you'll have to leave--"

She got up and looked over his shoulder.

The road was silent as it emptied of people, either going to their apartments or leaving towards their own village. This silence was suddenly shattered, much like the glass window front the young painter was suddenly hurled through.

"I sat on that little uncomfortable stool for two hours for a blank canvas?" She yelled loudly, disturbing several birds on the rooftop.

"Err, miss, let me explain--"

"Yes, please. Explain to me why I wasted my time in that stuffy little room with you, you--you--rip-off artist!"

"Well," he said, his voice suddenly becoming timid, "I saw you walking through town, and... you were so beautiful that I wanted to--" He gulped. "I had to see you longer. So I thought this up, and..." He was at a loss for words. He gave an exasperated sigh and said, "I'm terribly sorry, miss. Please, forgive me for wasting your evening."

"Uh..." For the second time today, Arianna was at a loss for words.

"If you want, I could never bother you again."

"No. Wait. I--"

"Arianna! It's time to go!" Rob's voice echoed down the long street.

"I've gotta go... before I do, could you at least tell me your name?"

"My name is Gregory, miss. I assume yours is Arianna. What a lovely name."

"Thanks." She ran off toward Rob, her long shadow racing ahead of her. "See you later, Greg!" She turned back for a second, and he could see her smile.

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