On the corner table, by my purse, a handwritten note read: “I’ll lock behind me and keep your keys hostage. This way, I’m sure you won’t try to get to work. I’ll coerce Rebecca into picking you up tomorrow. Take care, Square. Love. C.”
“Bastard” I said with a crooked smile. He knew me too well. I felt better and might be tempted to head for the office. There was a lot of paperwork to do. Truth was I wouldn’t be able to handle stress in any way, shape or form. Staying home was safer. Now I was forced to follow my better judgement.
Rebecca had a spare key and a reason to use it now. She would be uneasy but the best way to reform our bond was a little quality time together. Nothing like riding to work tomorrow morning could better settle every thing between us. Casey knew that too.
Since my life was all organised by my annoying cutie of a coworker, I focused on getting better. That was probably his point anyway. I ate, but didn’t taste, a couple of toasts and headed for my studio.
My easel stood in the corner with a blank canvas already on it. The light bathed it on all sides. I call this room a studio but it is more accurately described as a solarium. The roof and three of the walls are glass. The solid wall shared with the house is the northern one.
The light is bad for the pigmentation but my paintings never live long enough to suffer from it. The room is always perfectly lighted on sunny days, with the canopy of the surrounding trees diffusing the rays.
It’s my peaceful lair, my zen garden. It has the plants to fit the part.
I set up my acrylic tubes, my glasses of water and my brushes. I tried oil but never liked it; it took too long to dry. I need something that paints fast and furiously. This is how I spit out every thing I don’t want to hold on to.
It can’t be expelled fast enough.
I dipped my brush in red and started with large strokes on the canvas. A few minutes later, I lost focus. I entered that blessed state of semi-trance I painted in.
The details didn’t matter.
The image didn’t matter.
All that mattered was to get the jumble of feelings out.
The canvas was their ring and they could fight off their war outside of me.
In the waltz of reds, my anger disappeared. No longer would it burden my heart. With each stride of black, the deaths plaguing me found their way into the light. Green stepped in, adding hope. It partnered with blue to calm the floor. Other colors whirled around, each channelling a part of my mental jam and a part of its solution.
Hours passed. The light changed. I missed a meal or two.
When I snapped out of it, it was dark outside. So dark, the painting was invisible. I walked to the kitchen, a lightness in my steps. It wasn’t quite over but almost.
I rinsed my tools in the sink carefully. It felt good to be back in reality without most of my mental leaden weight. I hung the brushes upside down to dry and headed for the fridge. I needed to eat. With a little luck, I would taste something this time around.
I washed my dishes meticulously. I liked to focus on the details of meaningless tasks after stressful dives. It rooted me in routine and killed the “out of the world” feeling that inevitably ensued from spending a great amount of time under. When you can navigate outside of time and space, how can you feel at home in one present place?
Once everything was clean, I stepped back into my studio, turning on the light on my way in. The painting on the easel surprised me, as it always did.
In the burning skyline of an unmistakable Times Square, a slew of black souls flew towards a darkened sun. One of the billboards showed the face of the criminal laughing at the mayhem. Her hair was wet with blood and she had a gun pointing at the watcher. At me.
I expected something along those lines.
My surprise rose from the fact that I was in there. I rarely painted myself but there I was, smack in the middle of the chaos. Battered, broken and face swollen, I barely stood. My green eyes were one of the only spots of cold color in the tableau.
The other cold color was blue, used for eyes as well. I couldn’t tell who they belonged to. Just two eyes popping out of a dark silhouette.
And a Cheshire cat smile that gave me the heebie-jeebies.
Rebecca was there as well, dead on the sidewalk.
“Well, that’s a bit harsh!” I gently scolded my subconscious.
I knew the painting would be disturbing just as I knew I shouldn’t take it all too seriously. It was my coping mechanism: let it all out and discard it. What came out was never pretty; I kept the good things for myself.
I took a last look at the dreadful oeuvre and tucked it under my arm.
The temperature in my backyard was perfect. I spend a moment to breathe in the summer night and enjoy the caress of the breeze. No soothing moment was too much for me today. I didn’t want the fragrance of my flowers to pass me by.
I headed for the fireplace in a corner of the yard and sat the painting on it. I dosed it with a small amount of fuel and cracked a match.
I burnt the painting.
As flames licked it, it lost its form, its meaning and its emotional charge. I watched the process in silence, releasing my hold on any luggage I might still be carrying.
When it turned to cinder, I scooped it and blew it in the wind.
My ritual was complete.
The pains from two days ago were all gone.
All but for the scar, forever on my heart.