A splotch of black marred the dusk colored wall like the spires of the northern cathedral that perforated the morning mist of the waking skyline. A few incomplete strokes of a haphazard hand told a story of their own, a story that no longer held any gravity. If you touch the turmoil of the noir against the aging walls you could almost hear her laughter. Laughter that was reminiscent of a time that seemed lost in silence of the passing days and the wails of the everlasting nights. The echoes of those memories can still be heard when you touch the tumult of colors in that forlorn corner of the room. On the other wall was a hole which bore a peg, now broken, and held a violin, now lost. He had promised. He promised that he would learn it for her and play her favorite song for her on their anniversary. The tune that played in the cafe that they frequented, that they grew to fall in love with over and over again. He had promised she would be the first person to listen to the song that he had been practising, the notes of which would probably never resound in the corner of the room again. The door which opened onto the tiny street that lead to the mangy suburb was right beside this. This was where they had their first kiss. There were no fancy mistletoes or gifts, no fireworks or encores. Just two lovers in each other’s embrace in the cold November wind, ‘gainst the starry black velvet that was thrown above them and their only audience were countless shards of glass that shone evanescence into the eyes from a billion miles away. The soft rustle of the dried leaves on the ground, masked the soft moan of the passion that rose up to the stars. A few of those leaves, carried in the soft embrace of the breeze, found themselves under the wardrobe. It was an antiquated one. The smell of fresh varnish had long since worn off, only a muskiness of the excesses of time remained. The grains of the old rosewood, gnawed through in a few places, bore the wrinkles of time, the tears of which washed away novelty, vanity and all that was superfluous revealing only the bare bones. The truth of the tiny room.
Scribbles were torn on the face of the wall. Those nights when he didn’t have money to buy drawing paper; and he had to split the few coins that he had between a loaf of musty cheap bread and charcoal sticks from the furnaces to draw with. Scribbles that he hated; detested almost, but couldn’t get himself to stop drawing. He hated the roughness of the granules of charcoal. Nothing came close to the softness of her flesh. Torn paper lay everywhere. Anger and spite lay scattered on the floor that had been unkempt for months now…since she had gone. He could never capture the supple soft curves as accurately as he had wanted, the lines didn’t sing to him, they babbled. Frustration had been flung at the walls. Musky red tainted the aged facades and stood out like a shock of sunlight on the rime covered soil. Crimson had bled onto the floor and in the late dusk when scarlet flooded in through the one solitary pane less window, only then the red find a home to find solace in. The room was bathed in the light and the splatters on the wall turned almost inconspicuous. Only for that brief instant would he forget the torment in his flesh and the agony deep in his bones and only in that fleeting moment did the drawings on the wall seem to coalesce. Come almost close to her beauty. Never quite.
He was possessed by an idea that had infected his mind. He soon defined his existence by it. He wanted to paint her. His wiry frame and unkempt hair grew even more so day by day. Only stopping work to marvel at the way the dusk filled the tiny room and in a way filled the void he felt inside. A solitary table stood in a corner, covered with candle wax and broken pencils and a loaf that he hadn’t touched in three days. Hunger tormented him but the agony of the madness was far more resounding in his bones. A horrible stench hung in the room. Vomit covered a forgotten bed which he only used when he couldn’t stand anymore due to the illness which consumed him too often. In the rains the badly crafted wooden beams that held the roof up would mould and the pestilent smell mingled with the dirt and candle vapours. He never seemed to be bothered by it, almost impervious. A thin garbled rag that draped his bones and offered almost no protection against the sharp biting wind that blew in the winter night and the only water was that which dripped through the roof and collected in a small mug on the frosted floor.
Marks were visible on the wall where he had stabbed the fragile charcoal sticks into the concrete out of frustration and then in a tumult of emotion, broken down and cried for the entirety of the remaining night while the distant chirping of crickets the only comfort in his solitude. A fortress of solitude that he had built around himself. The consequence and the reason of his own predicament. His loneliness gave him a sense of ecstasy. The hollow of the empty room resounded with the hollowness he felt inside him and almost gave him satisfaction of a carnal, fundamental nature.
He spent all the remaining money he had to finish the one thing he so desperately wanted to. The idea. He sold his mother’s pendant which was the only remaining thread between him and the world. It still wasn’t enough to buy what he needed. He dug into the last few notes and coins that he had saved for food and went and bought it.
The only ornamentation in his dilapidated abode. A large piece of canvas. Its whiteness almost unsettling against the bleak, dirt-ridden interiors. He knew he had enough resources only for this one sheet of pure space of creation and only one try to lay to rest the absolute agony that ate him from the inside. This had to be it. This would relieve him of the pain, which blurred the line between physical and emotional and was all-encompassing. This would rid him of the endless nights of starvation, misery, tears and rimy cold. This would be liberation of the purest form…
For the first time in three months he left the room. He walked to the hillock behind the town square and sat on the precipice of a cliff. For the first time in a time longer than he cared to remember the wind felt warm on his face. The scent of the petunias from the valley below wafted to him and he almost lost himself in it. Suddenly an amazing thing happened. Something which hadn’t happened before. It felt so strange to him, like he had almost forgotten this old friend of his and buried him deep inside a tomb of woes.
The dusk fell slowly. With it he gained a sense of surety. At least something in the world was constant. At least something wouldn’t just promise but forget after that and leave him wondering why. It brought him a sense of calm and acceptance. Something he had been longing for a very long time. That tiny little ball of heat that warmed his frigid heart and made him feel again. He wouldn’t have to bleed just to know he was alive. He could finally feel a flutter in his stomach, in many ways similar to what he felt when he first touched her.
He drudged back to his room, past the filth of humanity, past the suffocation of being in a crowd. He finally knew he had solace, no matter how insignificant. He opened the tubes of colour and put them in his palette. How beautiful the myriad of emotions looked on that little piece of wood. The lust of the crimson, the placidity of the turquoise, the blush of the magenta and the warmth of the yellow. He was lost in the plethora for what seemed like an eternity. He dipped his brush in the little wad of colour and began. Like a maestro conducting a symphony he orchestrated the colours onto the canvas to try and create the likeness of her. Like a madman he worked with a devilish fire in his eyes. Firm bold strokes of the brush to perfectly encapsulate the contours of her lithe face. It was rhythmic and strangely hypnotizing. He was in a trance, the brush dancing across the canvas like a swallow in the wind. Swooping down and soaring up in the same stroke. The lines were beautiful for the first time he thought. Her face showed through, as if buried deep within the layers waiting aeons only to be excavated by his masterful hands. He would stop momentarily just to touch her face caress her lips and run his fingers down the side of her face almost as if he could touch her and almost as if she touched his very being, reaching out through the canvas. For the first time frustration did not consume him because she was perfect. Every stroke, every line, every etch was exactly how her countenance had been burnt into his memory. Perfection.
Time held no meaning for him and little did he realize that seven dusks had passed his window without him stopping his work. He thought little of the exhaustion and hunger that plagued his body and the fatigue that charred his mind. His soul was content. His heart? Well it had been ripped out. He felt nothing, saw nothing only drew. Finally she was complete. She was perfection. She was liberation. A single tear welled up in his eye, rolled down his face, hesitated an instant at the edge and chose to let go and fall. He placed his lips against hers and kissed her for one last time. He was tired. It was dusk. The scarlet filled his room again. He rested his back against the wall, exhausted. Closed his eyes and went to sleep.
Slept forevermore, only to wake up with his head on her lap. Only to wake up on the other side where she was waiting for him…