I travel the familiar road that leads to the river. Even though I’m hissing hostility like a busted radiator hisses steam, something in me yearns for the “homeyness” of the river. It’s the closest I can get to Jasper right now, and even though he’s the source of my current disgruntled state, I follow my instinct and go toward him anyway.
When I get to the river, I’m glad to see that the bank I like is empty except for a few birds. They fly when I wheel my bike to a stop in the grass.
I engage the kickstand and pull out my supplies from the basket, hauling it all to a sunny spot near the water’s edge. With the ease of someone who has done it dozens of times, I set up my easel and place my canvas before taking out brushes and digging out my tray of watercolors. When it’s all ready and a brush is gripped firmly between my fingers, I take one look at the bright, happy scene before me and I begin to paint.
Thoughts about my new life, about my old one as well, circle my mind like a predator, waiting to attack. I think about how I used to think I was happy. I think about the way I felt like I was flying when I was with Jasper. I think about how nothing else mattered when I was in his arms, drowning in his kiss. Not the world outside, not the people within it, not the past or the future, not right or wrong—nothing mattered except Jasper and me and the electricity that was between us. And I think about now, today, and how I’m one step closer to giving up. How I’m sinking deeper and deeper into hopelessness and misery. It’s with all this swirling through me that I paint.
Emotion pours from me like blood, black blood spurting from a mortal wound in some unfathomable place. The trees that take shape are dark and pointed, their branches more like thorns than foliage, and the sun never appears. It’s hidden by thick, rolling clouds that speak only of warning, warning of unpleasantness to come. And the water . . . the water looks nothing like what’s in front of me. The water on my canvas is turbulent, churning, its surface anything but placid and sweet.
I lash at the canvas with my brush, unaware of the tears streaming down my face until another chill seems to freeze them on my cheeks.
I gasp this time, dropping my brush and whirling around like someone tapped me on the shoulder. I look about, three hundred and sixty degrees, but don’t see even one sign of another person.
Eyes still watering and chest now heaving, I reach for my brush, carefully examining this odd sensation that has come over me for the second time. What am I feeling? Anger? Pain? Loneliness? Desperation?
Yes. To all of them. But why? Why would I get such a sudden burst of sensation out of nowhere? I have experienced most of these feelings practically every day since I left America, but never like this. Never all at once and so poignantly that it’s physically startling.
When I turn back toward my painting, I see the unrest of my soul. It’s coloring everything around me, stealing beauty from the beautiful. I know I shouldn’t let this happen, shouldn’t let this go on. But I just don’t know how to stop it. In fact, I’m not sure I even can.