10 Chapter 10

I always thought it was weird how some classes in college were like, entirely taught by teaching assistants. I mean, what was the point of even having a professor then? Obviously some professors needed help to manage classes of a hundred-plus students, but some of the classes I had were just completely taught by grad students.

For classes like studio art, though, it was great because I actually liked Alex as a teacher. He was patient and not smothering like a lot of art professors were. He accepted my abstract pieces and stabs at surrealism with open arms. He also seemed like he genuinely cared about the students in our class, and in between projects he'd make sure we had a break before diving into the next thing.

"Okay, so I'm sure everyone's familiar with TED talks by now, and I promise I'm about to show you an interesting one," Alex laughed as he pulled up a tab on the projector.

I stared forward, willing to watch the video even though I was really itching to start my next painting. In my experience, these TED videos were hit or miss. Some of them were really interesting, and others just made me want to fall asleep.

Neil Harbison : I Listen to Color

I shifted a bit, very interested in the title of the video. Listening to color? How did one listen to color? The speech started and this guy in a very colorful outfit and some sort of antenna attached to his head started speaking.

Apparently this guy was colorblind, and had been equipped with what he referred to as an eyeborg. It was so interesting, because apparently the eyeborg would translate light waves or whatever from colors and he would process them as sounds. I loved colors, so the idea that there were more ways to experience them really piqued my interest.

He was so excited about it, too. And for obvious reasons! He was going on and on about what the different colors sounded like, and it was absolutely incredible. I flipped open my sketchbook and wrote down the title of the video on the inside cover so I wouldn't forget it.

As soon as class was over, I pedaled quickly to the philosophy building. I double checked to make sure I locked my bike, and then ran inside, eager to find my boyfriend.

Vic was seated in our usual spot. We still had a few minutes before class started, and I was really excited to tell him about the video.

"Vic! Vic, I have to show you something," I said, excitedly. I took out my phone and opened the browser, my fingers flying across the keys.

"Wow, cool, looks great," he smiled sarcastically. I let out an amused sigh.

"No, it's a video. You can still listen to it," I said, finishing getting the video set up and handing him the ear buds. He just smiled, took the buds and placed them in his ears calmly as I started the video.

I studied him carefully as he listened to it. I felt so impatient. I wanted him to hurry up and finish so I could ask him about it. I practically jumped out of my chair when the video ended and he took the earbuds out.

"Isn't that cool? It's totally cool, right? You should get an eyeborg," I said quickly. I just thought the whole thing was incredible. Vic just laughed.

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"I'd rather not," he chuckled. "But that is really cool. And it means a lot that you thought about me."

"Of course I thought about you. I think about you all the time," I admitted, probably sounding too much like a lovesick puppy. I didn't mind though. Vic just kept smiling before reaching over and placing a hand against my face. I was about to ask what he was doing, but then I realized he was just gauging where I was so he could lean over and kiss my cheek.

I blushed slightly, before having to turn and pay attention to our professor starting class. When I wasn't taking notes, I was holding Vic's hand underneath the desk.

---

"Hi Justin," I said, cheerfully, as I entered our room that evening. He looked like he was getting ready to go somewhere. I mean, lately he always had somewhere to go. It was probably a frat thing.

"Hey," he mumbled, seeming distracted.

"Are those salmon colored shorts?" I laughed. It was so weird to me because Justin never used to be this preppy before. All of his preppy clothes amused me.

"So?" He snapped. "At least I'm not the one wearing a lavender sweater as a dude."

I frowned and looked down at my outfit. It was a lavender sweater with black jeans. I actually thought it was pretty subdued. I bit the inside of my cheek, a little alarmed by the harshness of his words. But I remembered sometimes Justin was like that, and he was my friend so he probably didn't mean to yell at me.

"Wow, harsh," I laughed, just taking it as a harmless joke. I sat down on my bed to take my shoes off as he turned to me. He still looked angry and my throat tightened because it dawned on me that he actually wasn't in a good mood.

"No, you don't fucking get it, do you? " He hissed, in a tone that I had never heard him use before. I held my breath, looking up at him as he continued. "You're a grown fucking man wearing this shit!"

"What are you talking about?" I asked, really confused about where this anger was coming from. It also kind of hurt.

"This, Kellin! You dress like a child and you act like a child and I'm done with it, okay?" He said. Okay, that really hurt. "I'm sorry, I'm only saying this because I care about you and I can't stay quiet about it anymore."

"I don't understand," I whispered, looking away from him. I felt like I had an awful lump in my throat, like I wanted to cry. Justin groaned and stepped away. I just did not get why he was so upset with me. What did my choices have to do with him?

"Well, bottom line is, you need to grow the fuck up. I'm not always going to be around to make sure you don't embarrass yourself," he said, his words somehow stinging more and more.

"I'm not embarrassing myself, am I?" I asked, suddenly really worried. I mean, I knew I was sort of a mess but really? I could feel my eyes getting wet already, and I knew that would be embarrassing.

"You're so naïve, Kellin," he said, shaking his head. "You know, I brought you over that one time and the guys still joke about you."

"They do?" My heart was breaking.

"Yeah, you're the kid that can't even dress himself - the kid that hangs out Mike's handicapped brother, no less," he groaned. I frowned, more upset that he was being mean to Vic now, too. And somehow I was more willing to defend Vic than I was myself.

"Vic is cool," I said, defensively. I mean, I knew I had shit to work on; I knew I was a wreck, but Vic was perfect. He couldn't talk about my Vic like that.

"No, Kellin, neither of you are," he said, darkly. "I'm sorry things are turning out this way, but you need to change."

"I like myself, though," I lied.

"Well, no one else does. Stop living in your stupid fantasy land and wake up," he said, shaking his head. The tears were already spilling onto my cheeks and I wondered if he was done being mean. "And don't fucking wait up for me, I'm done talking about this."

I stared at him, totally in disbelief as he stormed out of the room and slammed the door shut behind him.

I sank back down to my bed and dropped against the pillows. I felt like I had just been slapped in the face with my own heart. Justin was supposed to be my best friend. He was never mean like this . . . Which is why everything he said felt so serious. If Justin was yelling at me, then there must have really been something wrong with me.

I pulled the sleeves of my sweater over my hands and used them to cover my face. My entire body ached, and it took every bit of strength I had to keep from falling apart completely. I took a deep breath in and then exhaled in the form of a pitiful sob.

I never knew that words could physically hurt so much.

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