Your Painted Reflection

All the effort in the world won’t matter if you’re not inspired

Flat greens stretching past visible limitations chained to auburn by unseen growth, a curved azure dappled by bleached veils: a perfect art exhibit.  She sat under a large willow, branches extending down to kiss the grass a very formal hello, dreaming of lovely strokes of various hues which she would unite in her paintings.  As she often did to generate inspiration, she climbed up onto a sturdy branch, perfectly protruding through a chasm in the hanging leaves of the willow (exactly how she had painted it), and looked out upon the array of beautiful scenery.  Everything was artistically molded to its own uniqueness, but from the view atop a mountainous willow, through the void in the hanging green, all the individuality blended into one distinct foundation.  All of this the girl had painted with her enchanted brush on her cursed canvas which was then reproduced, in the exact figure and decorated in every specific detail the girl had painted, in the specific area she had painted it.

She climbed back down into the shadow of the willow, enthused by her own creations.  She picked the enchanting paintbrush up off the grass and walked to the easel, its canvas taunting its vacuity once again.  She began painting a large tree: the bark colored dark brown, covered in a turquoise veneer of moss.  In the center of the trunk she painted an imprint of a hand engraved in the bark; the exclusive signature.  She painted it with birds, each gathering beach grass and pine needles to build a nest.  Then, with foxgloves in bloom; her new creation of beauty, wet across the canvas.  When she had finished painting, she stepped back to marvel at her originality; perfection expressed through a thousand smears of paint and acrylic.  Above her view of the canvas, soaring through the sky came birds, each gathering beach grass and pine needles to build a nest.  As she observed the birds above her, she noticed branches reaching up in the sky, colored a dark brown, covered in a turquoise veneer of moss, as if they were trying to catch the birds just so they could be the lucky limbs to hold their home.  She peered around the side of the canvas to reveal foxgloves in bloom, sprouting from the ground near the newly placed tree.  All these things, matched precisely how the artist herself had imagined, now resided in a beautiful array of scenery.  Its uniqueness artistically molded, but from atop a mountainous willow, through the void in the hanging green, its individuality blended into one distinct foundation.  She walked over to the tree and placed her hand in the trunk she had painted, into the signature of the tree, as if she were signing it.

Where do you get your inspiration

                She walked along the edge of the pond, gazing down into the moving water.  Her distorted reflection stared back at her, as if it were her own self-portrait.  She hated the portrait waving in the pond; she had not been able to paint it herself.  In her own world of artistic creations, she felt as if she didn’t belong.  A duck in the pond ruffled its feathers, distorting the unoriginal portrait, weaved through the lily pads, and climbed up onto the grass.  She watched it as it came across another duck, which quacked in acknowledgement of a companion.  Loneliness crept in through her persisting thoughts, so much so that she converted loneliness to anger.  She screamed, causing the ducks to fly away, and ran across the grounds.  She ran past trees of blue she had painted while loving the sky, past boulders of purple she had painted while loving the night, past creatures of green she had painted while loving the grass, and past flowers of white she had painted while loving the clouds.

Everything is a diary

                When she finally calmed, she walked back to the willow.  In the shade, underneath the hanging greens, she held her enchanting paintbrush and walked to the easel, its canvas taunting its vacuity once again.  She tried to paint herself a companion, someone to love and ease the loneliness that so often crept into her persisting thoughts.  She painted this person by integrating the things she loved: eyes of curved azure, teeth as bleached as clouds, skin as soft as clay.  As she stepped away from the canvas, she realized she had painted herself.  Looking into her own self-portrait, she hated it.  She had tried to create a lover many times before; someone who loved the same things she did.  So she would paint the things she loved: eyes of green grass, of blue skies, of auburn ground; hair of bronzed grains, of gray rainclouds, of crimson rose petals.  Every time it would be a self-portrait.  And after she had finished her portrait, she would look around to see if it had spawned like her other creations, but it never had. She would stare at her painted reflection until it eventually rippled into an undistinguishable smear and then disappeared: the canvas taunting its vacuity once again.

As the sun set in the sky, deep colors of scarlet, orange, and lavender filled the sky.  She lay down next to the trunk of the willow, beneath the hanging greens, and closed her eyes.  Sleep was always hard for her to achieve.  Loneliness crept in through her persisting thoughts: the duck with its twin, the birds of a flock, and the flowers of a garden all made her jealous.  She opened her eyes to the night sky, unoccupied by the moon.  It was a night where she could see more with her eyes closed than open.  She imagined another person next to her, who she could love; someone to share the beauty she had created and to assist in her admirations.  She imagined this person lying next to her, arm around her waist, holding her tight so she would always remember she was not alone.  She imagined the warmth of a companion until she fell asleep.

Pain can be a gift

She woke to sunshine illuminating her surroundings: flat greens stretching past visible limitations chained to auburn by unseen growth, a curved azure dappled by bleached veils.  She looked up at the willow branch perfectly protruding through a chasm in the hanging leaves, then over at the large tree with bark colored dark brown, covered in a turquoise veneer of moss, an imprint of a hand its unique signature.  She stared at the tree with the imprint of a hand, recognizing that it was her hand she had designed it to hold.  Suddenly she was paralyzed by the realization that everything she had painted had been a self-portrait.  Every tree, every animal, every flower, revealed something about herself.  Then another comprehension crept into her persisting thoughts.

She needed to become angry.  She thought of the last time she was mad: near the pond with the two ducks, when she felt lonely.  She thought that if emotion can create a physical action, then duplicating the physical action can re-create the emotion, so she ran across the grounds, past trees of blue she had painted while loving the sky, past boulders of purple she had painted while loving the night, past creature of green she had painted while loving the grass, and past flowers of white she had painted while loving the clouds.  She ran back to the willow and angrily stood in the shadow, underneath the hanging greens.  She picked the enchanting paintbrush up off the grass and walked to the easel, its canvas taunting its vacuity one last time.  She painted a person with hair blonde like the feathers of the two ducks that caused her feelings of loneliness, the eyes dark like those of a bird flying in its flock, and the skin white like the canvas taunting its vacuity.  She painted this person sitting by the pond, staring at its own reflection, feeling lonely.  She furiously painted everything she hated.  When she had finished, she ripped the canvas in half and buried it in the dirt.  She threw her paintbrush at the large tree with the signature hand of the artist, and knocked down the easel.  She turned and walked toward the pond.

Sitting next to the pond, staring down at its own reflection, she saw her painted companion.  He had hair blonde like the feathers of the two ducks that caused her feelings of loneliness, the eyes dark like those of a bird flying in its flock, and the skin white like the canvas taunting its vacuity.  She walked over and sat down next to him.  He put his arm around her waist, holding her tight so she would always remember she was not alone.   They sat and stared down into their reflection.  Neither one had been able to create themselves, and in this way they were both unique.  They looked at their waving self-portrait and loved it.  A duck in the pond ruffled its feathers, distorting the new portrait, weaved through the lily pads, and climbed up onto the grass.  They watched it as it came across another duck, which quacked in acknowledgement of a companion.

Duck

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Friday Fictioneers – Meaning Over Volume

©David Stewart
©David Stewart

“Where are they?!” they demanded.

She stared back.

“You’re grounded until we get them back.”

The pipe organ began to play, filling the room with sound and drowning out the congregational chatter that allowed her parents’ scolding to fall on deaf ears.

Her parents began to sing loudly, but the words meant nothing to them anymore.

Between verses, the preacher shouted the verse of the day, 1 Kings 19:12.

“One bag of pills is in my inner coat pocket.  Another in a pair of socks.  I don’t want you to have them anymore,” she whispered, but her truth was drowned out by their own voices.


Friday Fictioneers – Rolling Stone

© Copyright – Rachel Bjerke
© Copyright – Rachel Bjerke

In a town that stood still, I was the boy who couldn’t.  People were born, raised, taught, married, worked, and died in the same town without ever seeing the outside world.  There were never new streets, signs, roads, businesses or houses, only new generations.

I couldn’t do it.

I can’t have my history repeat itself because I haven’t forgotten it yet.  I can’t forget being in L.A., Taipei, Vienna, or Amsterdam while my only connections to that small town died.  I’ve had many apartments, hotel rooms, houses, but I was gone when I lost my home.  But you know what they say; “A rolling stone gathers no moss.”




Friday Fictioneers – The Inevitable Cycle

frost-on-a-stump-sandra-crook
© Sandra Crook

A troop of tanks crushed the forest floor under its tracks: now a squished mix of weeds, dirt, and blood.  The blood doesn’t mix and rises to the top, creating a demolished field of crimson.

A soldier sits on a stump of a tree blown over by blasts.

“Men’s thirst for power is engraved into them, but it is a different kind of natural.

“While above ground, we destroy the Earth in our battles, but one day soon, the Earth will win the war, and we will be under it.

“Our bodies will crumble into compost and regrow what we’ve done.”




Part of weekly Friday Fictioneers where writers write short stories in 100 words or less based on a photo prompt.

The Hands of Time, Pt. 2

He went back outside

Into the harsh light of day.

He constructed a new way to look at the world,

Which is why he wore wired rims

That that held corrective lenses,

But not ones that helped him see closer

Or farther away,

Rather, lenses that flipped the world upside-down,

And reflected the sun’s rays.

In his own desired ways.

The others with their sunglasses mocked his hindered vision

As he stumbled around at first,

But when his eyes adjusted

To the way he wanted to see,

His view of the world changed greatly-

The freedom of living

Is not the cost of toys.

And real sweet dreams

Outshine the black of closed lids.

The clock was not stealing me away,

But taking me to where I did not know

The destination was skewed

By the blinding truth

That the clock took me

To where I truly needed to go.

And with the help of my lenses

I can withstand the outdoors.

The others only try to dim it.

I can now clearly see

The clock counting up.

I do not fear the clocks hands pulling me in

Because I can now hold its hands

In happy anticipation.

I know now that lovers

Remain not for need, but for jubilation.

All of my questions

Have already been answered,

But all the answers are the same.

So next time I am confused

About who, what, when,

Where, why, and how,

I will always have one answer:

Love

He was now an adult.

 

Friday Fictioneers – Acclimation

erin-leary
© Erin Leary

I remember a couple years ago, after getting into a shouting match with my mom’s boyfriend about my report card, running outside and hiding behind the old tool shed.

My neighbor, Tom, who’s a couple years older than me, saw me crying.  He came over, sat with me, and handed me a cigarette.

“I could hear you guys from my room,” he said while he lit it.  It put me into a coughing fit.

“You’ll get used to it,” he said as he handed me another.  And, eventually, I did.

I guess I’ve gotten used to a lot of things.

The Hands of Time, Pt. 1

In a quaint little house
On top of a hill,
A young boy was nestled
In the comfort of his home.
The glow from the screen
Of Saturday morning cartoons
Were only outshined
By the glare of his loving parents,
Whose faces sometimes changed
But remained just as bright.
The gloss of their eyes mirrored in his
When his were not fixated on toys and friends,
But when he was busy with his boy things,
The shine of his parents’ eyes reflected
In the face of the clock.
The clock face had no sparkle of its own,

But basked in the light it absorbed
From the boy’s parents.

One day, while becoming bored with his toys,
The face of the clock grew restless.
Its hands reached out, grabbed the boy,
And drug him outside, into the harsh light of day.
The sun’s harsh rays irradiated his skin
And temporarily blinded his eyes:
The radiance severe and unforgiving.
The boy felt the hands of the clock let go
And he was left alone under the sunlight.
When his eyes finally adjusted
He realized he was not alone.
There were many other people around,
Aged from him to elderly.
Almost all of them were wearing sunglasses,
Which undoubtedly would help in the given condition.
The boy slinked back inside the comfort of his home.
He went to tell his parents of the horrible incident,
But when he saw them, they looked different.
Their faces were not as bright as they used to be-
Did the sun make them pale in comparison?
He looked over to the face of the clock,
Whose illuminance had stayed the same.
It did, however, seem different-
More threatening.
The clock had started ticking down
Instead of ticking around.

Time finally dragged me into the light;
I am now a man.
The colors I used to see are all turned to grays.
I couldn’t ask enough questions,
But now have too many answers.
The scariest of nightmares
Are when I’m awake.
Companionship used to be wanted,
But now it is needed.
Freedom of toys
Is now the cost of living.
We used to hold hands because we had to;
Now we hold them in hopes for comfort
When those clock’s hands drag us away again.