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Vincent Van Gogh
The howling wind outside my room sang mournfully against the sleeping town. As it drifted through tumbleweeds, and split to intertwine with the woods outside my self-prison, it whistled the shaky whispers of midnight over my woken-up form. The sky shone through the window and danced across the coarse, scratchy blanket covering my goose-flesh riddled legs. I squinted back at the window, curious and exhausted, at the beam of light in the nighttime sky. Pushing my blanket aside and walking across the noisy oak floor, I reached the window’s edge and glared, frustrated, at the source of my awakening. A yellow star set against a collage of blues, purples, and reds, dotted with other small stars faced me almost smothering my sense of sight. The scene bled across the sky, and was quivering in the chilly air. It seemed so magnified, too magnified, and was too spectacular and pure to be at such a mental institution. But as I threw the sky a second glance, I realized the yellow giant was just out of place in its immense and frightful galaxy, as unusual as this entire asylum located in such an unforgiving, and conformed town.
“Mijin bondgenoot in eenaamheid… My ally in solitude,” Dutch spilled out of me breathlessly into the emptiness of the room “tell me what went wrong. Tell me why I was born with such a mentale vloek, a curse!”
My mind, uneasy and suddenly irritated, flashed back to the many occasions of unjust ridicule from others... others who believed me to be a freak of nature! They pummeled me with rocks, held me down with their normal taunts, and left me secluded in this dour, manic-depressive state of mind. There were weeks of a endless desperation in finding a cure, but none came. Always empty handed, my mind betrayed me, and came across the one-way ticket out of this purgatory-like lifestyle; my vision, my art. There came my painted high in life obtained form splattered colors over a hand-made cloth canvas. Staring into the sky once more, the thoughts of crazy, impossible ideas flew into my mind as they did with all my other masterpieces. With shut eyes, I walked into the land of interesting and creative, but corrupted with doubt and hidden depression. Through my heavy lids, I could see the deep red-blacks of my veins and the speckled lights of the stars still visible through my thin, frail flesh.
Under the twists and turns of my blocked vision, I saw my story, the story through the eyes of any person other than me. What did they see that was so hideous, so appalling in my mental state? Was it the way I suddenly become irritated so easy? The months of my mania, or the months of my depression? How was I the only frightening thing in this social net of average? The answer was something that could only be corrected by those who were members of this cruel world and had survived;I was yet to become one of those people.
With determination on the edge of the precarious cliff known as my mind, I hurried to my door and rushed to the institution's main hall. In doing so, chills ran down my spine at the thought of madmen and lunatics turning violent in that very room; and I've yet to describe the patients mental breakdowns. Stumbling with sleep still trailing behind me, I walked over to the studio area where patients were permitted to paint. My bare feet dragged along the ice-cold floor while I gazed at the iron letters hung on the far wall; Saint-Remy-De-Provence, Saint Paul Asylum. A brief sigh penetrated the air sharply in front of me, and I brushed away the disappointing fact of my bipolar mind. I scurried over to the art cabinet, and began rummaging through various powders and solutions: caster oil, sunflower oil, bee's wax, linseed, hemp-seed, pinenut. I shoveled them into my arms and brought them to the mixing table. While waiting for the water to boil, I ground up fresh color powders and brushed them carefully into a small, copper kettle. With the grumble of the bubbling water, I put the kettle inside and allowed the mixture to broil. The soothing, bitter smell of freshly formed paint filled the studio, every nook and cranny became subject to the fragrant rainbow being born inside my kettle. After hours of heating and grinding down paints, I finally had enough colors to satisfy my creativity. Using a canvas found in one of the old supply closets, I began my new masterpiece. With shaking hands, I dipped my brush into the deep, aquamarine and midnight purple, and gently slid it down the canvas. The brush sort of awkwardly waltzed along the grain, and stumbled on it's off-beat rhythm. With the encouragement of some reds and yellows, the three skipped joyously in synch with some silent tune. They twirled along the border, and caressed the canvas's sides. The reds and yellows, becoming shy and modest, shuffled into the back ground and allowed room for tonight’s main attraction. The Vibrant blue cascaded across my vision and leaped into the sky, bleeding down to the foreground. Greens jumbled up to catch it, successfully I might add, and then erupted into fireworks of happiness. And with the illuminated sky came the soft, distant speckles known as stars. I breathed heavily, and my eyes became wide. I stood back and gazed at my nighttime sky recorded on but a piece of painted fabric laid up against the window leaking dawn. The morning sunshine crept up from behind my work, and cuddled it gently along it's edges. Just as my disorder had cuddled me in it's creativity.
“m-moii...” I breathed, “ beautiful”.Carefully, with broad strokes, I etched 'V-I-N-C-E-N-T' to my work's corner.
In my painting lay a sky stretched sleepily against a town, perched unforgivingly and conformed. The town... the taunting people... the sky... and it's lonesome yellow star. I realized then, while staring in astonishment at my latest masterpiece, that I hadn't painted just some average sky above some normal town; I had painted a near perfect replica of the the lonesome star in every shapely sky. I sighed. Laughter nuzzled it's way into my heart and burst out of my tired mouth. Tears pricked my eyes, and dribbled down my wrinkled skin. The sun shone down on my contorted face and smiled genuinely.
“ik heb het gedaan... ik heb het overleefd” I sputtered maniacally “ I did it... I survived”
Without a second of hesitance, my legs tumbled to the floor, and my face slammed itself against the ground. The beating of my heart quickened, almost to the tempo of the brush's dancing across canvas. My eyelids drew down over my eyes like heavy, velvet curtains. The soft sunshine drifted over my form one last time, as my heart's grand performance subsided, and my mental issues took their bow. I hadn't realized the toll such a disorder could have taken on my weakening life until my limbs grew as cold as the floor, and my eyes as blank as an empty canvas, and my heart as normal as any dying man. I said it softly, almost like a whisper
“Oh yellow star long forgotten until night comes again, you tr
uly survived this world better than I have. So... will you tell me the answer now? Will you tell me why I have to bare the painful burden of this conflicting bipolar mind?”
I waited patiently against the floor and realized that there was never going to be answer other than my own that would count. I would never learn to trust the wisdom of someone who hasn't shared the same burden as mine. So I finally understood. I understood that this wasn't some tragedy that would leave no impact on those who have hurt me; it was the journey I took while gazing at the sky one night in my institution. It was a journey of accepting that I had this disorder because I knew I could handle it. And as my heart took another thump, I entered the deepest sleep of my life; my last slumber.