Watch and learn. I’d learned already; learned to listen to the voices inside of my head. Listen before I act. Listen. Think. Interpret. Act. Yes, there was more than one voice in my head. So, I sat down, cross-legged, elbows on the inside of my knees and chin propped on balled-fists.
Turning gray. The last thing I want is for the color in my world to turn gray. Swear you’re not black and white, like you always do. I’m not black and white; I don’t see the world that way, at all. It’s never this or that; there are always far more options. The gray. If you’re a light switch, I’m not interested; give me a dimmer. Dimmed, but not dim. Exactly. I need someone who can balance her intensity with what’s happening in her world. Someone who can brighten my day or turn down her light when it’s time for us to rest, and I will give her the same. All day, all night, bright light from the fright, beacon for the plight of the blight. My mind does this rhyming thing, on a whim. It’s not me; it’s him. Like I said.
When I closed my eyes, I left the deterioration of color behind, and then I could hear: a combination of strings, guitars to violins, eventually allowing drums to exhibit their beat, a measure of time, steady time, lub-dub-tap, lub-dub-tap, lub-dub-tap, the strings waving over each stanza like the wind in the leaves of the summer trees, ebb and flow of intensity, undulating across the steady churn of Mother Earth’s bass, getting nearer, bringing to me a voice…
And when it came back, it came with force, in me turned fierce, vengeful, and pointed directly at my canvas, which I now knew as my hiding place—the closet of my life where I could hide under dirty clothes, sometimes to the light of a solitary candle, but more often completely in the dark, no light to give me away. Behind my eyelids, I saw the light of my soul return, relit by the love of another.
I etched with my eyes closed, decades of paint warmed again, needing only my touch, like a gray scratchboard, when scraped away it creates a world not before there. The first touch to the spinning canvas gave me a window to the outside world; a world of bright color, smiles, sunshine, opportunity, and the long grass blowing in the invisible wind. My touch left what looked like a tear in the shroud of me. With the canvas spinning around me at such a great pace, it was a constant view outside of where I’d been hiding. Odd that it would be my finger, acting as an eraser to what my fingers had previously created. Years of paint had accumulated on that first etch, layers of gray gathered from the nail of my index finger just past the first knuckle. I did what any child would do: analyzed it—gathered the input of sight, smell, and taste—and found that I gained no additional value from it. It simply was what it was, my past. In that moment, I knew that I’d taken all from it that there was to take. All the time that I’d spent looking back, thinking, writing, discovered things under memories that’d never before been overturned, which exposed the patterns of failure that I’d unknowingly repeated, that rocked me as hard as any love lost, because I was wrong. And, wrong more than once, wrong a lot. Even when I was right, there were times when I was right for the wrong reasons; just lucky, that’s me. With the thumb on the same hand as my life’s detritus, I flicked the dry, hardened byproduct from my finger and watched as it evaporated.
“Thank you,” I said. “These are my respects to you, memories, you’ve served me with greater purpose than I ever before knew.”
But I could fly away,
or I could be no one.
And you could be the
sunshine falling over the mountains
Her head peeked above the closest hill as she hiked through the tall grass toward me. My fingers took a direction all their own and began to etch away the lifeless paint. Like a child’s night light, I carved dinosaurs, and horses, and balloons that floated across the sky providing entertainment and security, but most of all, the light shining from the inside, from me, out through their forms gave her a beacon: a house of light, the palace where she’d dreamed the princess inside of her would reside, a royal resting place for her heart.
A few more steps, and the light from her smile cast its gleam through my etched windows, and she began to run towards me.
Or you could come to stay;
you could come right home.
Don’t see why I have to
live this life all alone.
Instead of brushing off the pieces that I’d already scraped from the canvas, I reached with both hands, palms turned into direction of the spin, inserted them into the shroud, and muscled the exterior away. Pieces of gray flew out, above and below my hands, evaporating as the rest had done before them and peeled away all the protection that I’d built up around my heart. It was hers, and she was running towards me to wrap her arms around it. She would give it all the nourishment and protection that it would ever need—more than it ever had—and we would build our home in the light that shined for each other, right there, on that hill overlooking the world, and that all the world could see.
I know there is a way to make up for old mistakes.
And, I know what's happening is for a reason.*
*John Butler Trio, "What You Want," Watch the video.