What do you get when like-minded individuals meet in cyberspace to compose a story? An intriguing piece of work, to say the least! A few weeks ago, I’ve decided to start a creative writing exercise with some of my friends. It was a group activity where each participant contributed to the development of a story. As an additional challenge, we had to incorporate colour terminology in our text.
Google docs allowed us to create and store this writing piece online; we were able to contribute in real-time and add notes or comments on each other’s entries. It was an interesting challenge to explore the workings of our individual minds and try to create a context for a believable set of circumstances. In the end, we had painted a clear picture: working together on this piece was time well spent!
Slices of The Obscure Mind
It had rained all day and the world seemed colourless. She opened the grey door of her small studio around midnight to inhale the moist, heavy air, looking for clues in the glistening darkness. The mysterious stranger who came knocking at Umber’s door early yesterday morning had requested a painting based on an old, tattered black and white photograph of a feeble looking child. A shaft of ruby light sliced through the darkness, exposing the mist with its small droplets, now brought to life as living molecules. Seconds later they transformed into churning clouds of green luminosity. The lights down the street must have changed, she guessed, and waited for the hues of amber.
“Blemishes are hid by night and every fault forgiven”. She pondered on the meaning of these words printed in India ink on the back of the peculiar photographic image she was commissioned to paint. Was it possible that the stranger requested a portrait of himself as a child? Umber had quickly dismissed her initial reaction after he stressed that the child’s eyes needed to be painted in two different colours, the left one cerulean blue and the right one sea green. What a strange request? She had never seen this trait in humans, but once owned a Turkish Angora with odd-coloured eyes; her name was Blanche. Yet the idea of painting a portrait with contrasting coloured his eyes gripped her tightly. She was transfixed, and moreover, she was inspired. Technicolour thoughts dazzled in her consciousness–the intensity with which the child gazed at the photographer was unlike anything she’d seen before. It was as if his eyes alone transported her to another realm where she was merely the vehicle of an energy bursting to get out.
Intimidating transparency of a photographer’s impatience, relentless subtractive undertones of eternal prompting, grey-wet colourless walls of a studio in midwinter, all combined into the imprisonment of the mind, heart, and soul … there was no escape. Submit, pose, perform, conform. The heart, the soul … but not the mind. The golden will of freedom transposed to the beauty of a lush green meadow in the young, tender days of spring.
Umber considered the image of the child once again. Despite his forlorn look, the boy reminded her of Blanche: he was fine boned like an Angora. What thoughts sat in the dark, remote corners of his young mind? He certainly had been prey to poverty, the shadow of which showed in his pose, but to what other hurts had he been subjected? Did she see a hint of happier days somewhere? She looked forward to putting her brush on a white canvas, focused to capture the kaleidoscope of his gentler emotions. It was the challenge that she had anticipated when she first gazed at the snapshot.
Time has passed in an array of black, blue, grey, black, blue, grey. Finally I couldn’t stand it anymore and returned to the odd little house with the grey door. The artist met me there, still wearing the turquoise and coral outfit from a warmer and brighter place. Against her table was propped a canvas — my treasure, my burden, my penance. She seemed strangely reluctant to collect the fee which had already been settled; purple smudges under her eyes suggested she had worked around the clock to be finished with my mission and with me.
So now I have returned to our happy home where the green tree and red and white berries still adorn the front hall. I clutch the painting close to me; it seems smaller, somehow, than I had envisioned when first I planned this act of contrition.
“Darling, I’m back from the front!” I call out, our own private code from dark days long past, “I’ve brought something special.” I climb the stairs to her room, nodding a polite “hello and good-bye” at today’s white-clad visitor. (They don’t always wear white but I rather prefer it when they do.) Carefully, I slide my treasure out of the brown paper wrapping and turn it around for my darling to see. She blinks once, twice, then winks her green eye shut, staring at the portrait with her blue eye.
“Happy Holidays!” I try my best to sound as cheerful as she needs me to be. “See, I brought our baby home for Christmas.”
The Authors in alphabetical order: