Bring It Back
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"You all got the unfinished or failed works I asked you to bring?" Legler said, looking around the studio. "Don’t tell me otherwise because I'm positive that each of us here has our own share of failures stashed somewhere."

A small wave of noise burst out as students all moved to fetch their respective "failures". Taman, looking down at her small pile of pastel art, picked through them one by one. These were indeed some easy picks considering her multiple failed attempts at the art magic. She had been more successful recently, but the mistakes were still abundant. There was this one depicting the some trees on campus where the color was just so slightly off and she didn't realize it until the last minute; there was a crude drawing of the warehouses she went to, and she messed up the perspective entirely with attempts to just "go with the flow"; and finally, a few pieces that were no more than some loose patches of colors and weak lines.

Taman looked around, and saw that her classmates all produced something equally unfinished or unimpressive. Some may even be called horrible, as she saw Delacroix pulled out a piece of cloth that seemed to have once been caught in a broken sewing machine. She saw Cobalt staring down at her own pile of terribleness with a bitter expression, and one glance at Laufer made her wonder how a wooden statue come to resemble more of a piece of charcoal.

Seeing that everyone had more or less gotten something, Legler continued. "Great. Here's what we're doing today. I know with the Flow, it sometimes gives you the feeling that you can do anything. It's this drive that makes you keep going and going and it feels right and amazing."

He started to pace around the studio, taking a brief look at each student's work. "But a lot of the times that won't work because as human beings, you need to eat and sleep, and sometimes large projects can stretch on for days and even months. Years, maybe. You can't just rely on the strong urge to make it through."

"And I'm telling you now, DO NOT do that," Legler suddenly raised his voice, causing a few students to turn their attention. "I've seen people exhausted to death because they were on a creative high and didn't know when and how to stop. As amazing as Flow is, it doesn't help shit with that."

Taman shifted a bit nervously in her seat as she remembered staying up for a few nights, in fact a lot of nights, trying to get the hang of anart.

"So today, I'm going to teach you how to pause. How to continue working on something afterwards, or how to bring the Flow back. This also applies to failed works, because you can pick up from where you left off, and you can also rework something entirely," Legler paced back to the front of the room again, and leaned on the lecture desk. "Mainly just how to bring it back, because if you have no self-control, that's really not my problem."

He paused briefly, and then added: "That said, if you do have trouble stopping, go to Yang after class."

Legler turned to address his assistant lecturer, who was leaning against the wall and typing furiously on her phone.

Legler frowned. But then a smirk appeared on his face: "Now, Yang, would you care to do some demonstrations?"

Yang was obviously startled by the request. "Wait. You didn't say anything about that."

"I just figure that you won't need any preparations at all, with all these half-baked works of yours around." Legler snapped his fingers and a painting fell off the wall, which landed on the floor with a loud thud. Taman noted that it was a large painting of a lake.

"Fine," Yang said, stuffing her phone back into her pocket. She picked up the painting and positioned it onto an easel in the front of the room. Sitting down on a stool, she proceeded to stare at it.

"Great," Legler, with the smirk still on his face, turned to address the class once more. "The first step is observation, taking what you have here in. The second step is usually recalling—"

His speech was interrupted by a few loud gashing sounds. The professor turned to find that Yang had already slashed the piece up with a pocket knife. Where the slashes met the painted lake, thick black fumes rose up, before disappearing completely into the air a few centimeters apart from the canvas. The water in the picture began to boil, and in a matter of seconds, it left behind only the dried up lakebed and large cracks matching where the slashes were.

"—what you felt and thought then." Legler's gaze had shifted to stare at his co-leturer.

"…sorry," Yang said, smiling at the professor unapologetically. "This one just had to go this way."

Taman had began to chuckle, along with a few others in the room.

"Deconstruction and reworking," Legler squeezed the words out, obviously not pleased. "That does work, but it is the second way I was going to talk about, Yang."

"I can try again?"

Legler sighed in defeat, and another painting slowly moved downwards with a part of the wall until it was reachable. It was obviously a painting, as Yang had gotten it off the wall, put the previous one aside, and started to work on it; and it seemed that she meant it this time. Taman only blinked in surprise as for the longest time, she thought it was just a large mirror.

Legler nodded and began to lecture once more, explaining how to slip back into the mindset when the work was first created. But the words slipped Taman's ear as she watched Yang's process in awe.

The deputy professor only considered briefly before starting to apply paint to the work. The moment her brush touched the mirror, the smooth surface was gone, replaced with colors upon colors on the canvas, divided into tiny units. She couldn't quite explain what she saw, only that there were multiple colors occupying the same space. Taman felt dizzy just looking at it, but she couldn't help but look more closely.

"Sometimes just getting the Flow running would be enough, but if you can connect with it, it's always better. So, consider, what were you thinking back then?" Legler's voice echoed. "Or more accurately, what were you feeling? Because often, we don't think when we create; hell, a lot of us would have no idea what we were creating before we finish. Thoughts and intentions are important and helpful, but a lot of the times you have to rely on an urge. To recall and access that again, you need to seek out the emotions."

And Taman felt it, just by looking at Yang's quick waving of the brush and the splashing colors. It was not Taman's work, and she was just looking at someone else painting, but the emotions were there. She almost felt like they were surging out from Yang's canvas, radiating towards its viewers.

What the feeling was, what Yang felt and hoped to convey, she couldn't quite grasp or put into words. But she hung onto it, struggling to understand. Trying to memorize how she felt it, how she came to resonate with it.

"Don't make a fuss if it feels slightly off. You can never pick up exactly where you left off. Sometimes it will be better, sometimes it's worse, but more often than not, it's just different. What's the saying again? You can't step into the same river twice. Quite the case here: Flow is ever changing, and so are you."

It was almost disorienting, how the colors layered onto one another but also penetrating through the layers. She couldn't pull her eyes away as both the colors from moments ago and the colors newly added shone, past and present merging into one. The air intensified, and for a moment, she felt like it was the Flow, the convergence of emotions and colors. Briefly, the wall of colors from the warehouse came back to her. The vision rushed over and suddenly Taman had the distinct feeling that something was open to her, that she could reach out, and the Flow was a touch away.

But it was not her Flow.

Taman snapped out of it as the air shifted suddenly. The intense emotions changed into something else following a clear cracking sound. All the colors disappeared from the canvas Yang was working on, leaving a translucent surface, and then, the canvas itself collapsed.

Cracks enlarged on the glass-like painting, dividing it into pieces. But instead of falling, they spread out and suspended themselves in the air. A thousand smaller mirrors disjointed, yet as if linked and supported by invisible lines, they formed a crude eye shape. The painting — the glass sculpture looked back at Taman.

Taman blinked in surprise as she saw herself walking into the studio from one of the pieces. It was like staring into a camera playback; she could even make out the moss on the old bench, and the gentle brush of wind through the grass. But when she opened her eyes again, the eye was replaced with a glass butterfly, and the image of herself picking through her work earlier in the class greeted her.

"How…?" Someone gasped in surprise.

Legler looked at the finished work, and nodded approvingly. "Changing depending on the viewer?" He asked.

Yang answered with a slightly smug smile.

But the rest of the class ignored this exchange, only staring intently at the artwork.

Taman soon found that in each piece, there was a moving reflection of her from a previous point today. She watched in fascination as her past selves engaged in their various activities behind the shiny surfaces, with clearer detailed than she could recall. It was as if the mirrors were in front of her throughout the past moments, reflecting whatever happened faithfully. Upon closer examination, Taman also noted that the pieces rearranged positions ever so slightly, even making dramatic changes when she shifted attention away.

"But it was a painting a moment ago…" Someone whispered under their breath, but still caught the attention of the anart professor.

"Oh don't be fooled, it's still a painting, not a sculpture," Legler grabbed onto the remade artwork, and for a moment, the pieces reunited. The illusion was broken and the clear, reflecting glass pieces were forced back into a frame. The past scenes still played out but it was the shape of a painting again.

And then, Legler let go. Instantaneously, the glass shattered, before quickly floating up to form shapes once more.

"When it comes to anart, it is very easy to transcend media," He added. "But back to the topic; when it's not deconstructing, you still generally follow your old theme. What Yang had was a painting functioning as a mirror, and now it is several reflections of the viewer's past."

"And that's what I'm expecting of you. Not only continuing your work, but also making it better." With several loud claps, the studio suddenly expanded upon Legler's command, tiles moving to reveal hidden space, walls growing taller and wider, until the small room became a great hall in mere minutes.

"Splendid! Now get to work." Legler concluded as several small gasps rang throughout the room, along with several eye rolls from those who had seen it before.


Taman barely knew what happened. One moment she was staring at her pastel impression of the warehouse, and the next thing she noticed was that somehow, liquid paint was dripping from her desk and she got up instinctively. A second later, as she calmed down and took the view of colorful paint streaming out of her art in, she felt the pastel stick in her hand, and realized that she had been working on the piece for the past hour or so.

As she stared at the now three-dimensional yet still pastel-looking warehouses standing from the piece of paper, the realization solidified and she was hit with the feeling again. She remembered the exact moment it clicked, and recalled herself drawing, without thinking or considering. The memory was hazy, but at the same time, everything was also so clear, as she understood where exactly to set the next line or the next patch of color. It all went so smoothly.

And that was it, that was the Flow and she did it. It wasn't like the first time when she didn't even realized what she did until afterwards. This time, it was comfortable, a missing piece she finally found. There was a connection and now, she felt like if she tried, she could be there again.

"For a newbie, well done."

She turned to find Legler standing next to the table, studying the interior of the miniature warehouses. Taman felt slightly embarrassed as many of her classmates – including several from the small group – had also turned their attention to her. It didn't help that the paint surging from the warehouses had now made a small puddle on the floor.

Fortunately for her, Legler decided to shoo the students back into working on their respective art, and Yang later dropped by to help her contain the flowing liquid largely within the piece itself, as well as clean up the floor afterwards. She also earned a few compliments from her as a bonus, and she couldn't help but squeaked a bit internally. But unfortunately, all the other works she had brought were utterly ruined, as she had unwisely stashed them nearby, and they were avoidably consumed by the paint river she created.

With nothing better to do, Taman focused her effort on examining the changes Yang made, and how they managed to cease the stream of colors. She didn’t really get much result aside from some very vague feelings, but she now had the confidence to work it out eventually.

At the end of the class, she saw that two students did go to Yang, but none of them she was familiar with. Other than that, Legler had decided to call Cobalt aside for some reason; Taman could see Cobalt went visibly pale for a moment, before putting on a worried expression. As she stepped out of the studio door and landed herself back in the campus again, she wondered briefly what was the problem.


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