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Color Me A Melody;

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It is a symphony. A symphony that only the keenest of ears on the quietest of days can hear. He does not always hear the symphony, although he is the creator. It begins with the music of the short, swift strokes of the brush… the steady beating of his heart… the quiet softness of the paints mixing together.


Blue and yellow makes green. Blue-yellow-green creates a simple daisy against the sky. He loves me, he loves me not, our director thinks. End first chord. Red and yellow makes orange. Red-yellow-orange creates the hot summer sun. Crescendo. He wipes at the sweat forming on his brow and continues his conduction. A soft tan creates the beginnings of a little girl. Nutmeg curls, tousled lightly by her play. Chubby hands holding a cherry-colored-cherry-flavored Popsicle that melts from the red.yellow.orange heat and drips down soft-tan-chubby arm. Finale: snow-white-pearl-white-pretty
beautiful-little-girl smile. Deep, sweet dimples. Heat can’t melt innocence, he decides.
Cherry-colored-cherry-flavored popsicle disappears, and the beige stick is thrown carelessly on the ground. She scampers off to the swings, nutmeg curls flying behind her. End final chord. But don’t worry. He got her. There, on a deep-brown-oak-white-crisp-paper easel, he has created a symphony that ends in a painting of pure innocence.

He shields his eyes and looks up at the sky. His red-yellow-orange sun is now sinking into the sky, carried away by the sudden wind that picks up and tears at his deep-brown-oak-white-crisp-paper easel. He sighs wearily and begins to pack up his paints. Build up to new song. Step-step of shoes, beat-beat of heart, thump-thump of easel hitting knee as he makes his way home. New chord. Just like that, his red-yellow-orange sun exists now only on his paper. Blue and white make gray, he hums along. Blue-gray-white clouds that gather across the sky. Affrettando. Pitter-patter as the raindrops start to fall. Hurry-hurry, he thinks. Don’t fear. His paintings are safe in the big case he carries. On the dreary-gray-old-worn-out sidewalk, everyone is rushing. Rushing to get out of the rain, out of the cold; inside to a warm fireplace and a hot cup of cider-coffee-chocolate-tea and the warmth of someone’s arms.

Wait. Diminuendo.He slows when she catches his eye, before he comes to a complete stop at the corner of the park. He takes it all in, thinking, his fingers beginning to itch. By the fence, looking out into the river. Her back is turned away from him, so she does not see him as he stares. She is not rushing like the others on the sidewalk. She has no umbrella, and she makes no attempt at all to shield herself from the rain. He automatically begins to see her in paints. In colors. In music. Blue-black-brown tones of midnight-esque palettes would make her hair. Our director is convinced. A piacere. Thick tree for shelter. Set up easel, take out paints so meticulously put away only moments before. Blue-gray-white for the sky. Washed-out-faded-green for the wet, flattened grass. He pauses as his eye lingers on the section of yellow palettes. He searches the park, but not a single daisy is in his view. Skip the yellows. New song begins. Melancholia intro. Black-brown tones of nighttime-blue create rain-destroyed-wind-tossed ringlets. Dull-faded-well-worn-black for the slacks she wears; same for the loafers. Slight diminuendo. Dark-faded-gray coat wrapped tightly around a shivering body in a feeble effort for wamthr. He is reminded of something dark and sad, perhaps a piece like the Moonlight Sonata. Light-gray-white-baby-blue creates a sheen layer dabbled in short lines all with the tiniest brush he owns. Over the sky, the ground, the girl. The Gray World, he names it. He critically looks the painting over. Bellicoso. Something is missing. Something else is needed before he can put away his canvas and go home. How do you add color to a world of gray? He muses.

As if on cue, she turns. Her head cocks to one side in confusion, as she sees him. Gray-blue, the color of the saddest eyes he has ever seen. Allegro. Methodically, never breaking rhythm, avoiding her stare, he begins to paint them in the right-hand corner using oils. Black soot for lashes. Kohl for outlines. Blue-gray gray-blue. He is beginning to despise the combination. The confusion is still etched in her drawn-down brow, but she remains still. Her eyes are riveted onto nothingness, a blank, sad look that he manages to capture perfectly. Caesura. It is a wise addition to the painting, this pair of sad eyes, but even so, it just adds more gray. The question remains, the painting stays unfinished. He stays, brush poised above his palette, waiting for something. He will wait forever if he has to. He will die under this tree before he will walk away, leaving his creation undone.


She blinks, as if coming out of a trance, and begins to speak, her voice a deep, resounding mixture of flats and alto melodic tones that vibrate around him so softly he thinks for a moment he may have only imagined them.
“It’s odd weather, isn’t it?” She asks, not waiting for an answer, “Sunshine to clouds, summer to winter?” The rain has soaked her through, and she is shivering. He nods, unable to speak. He is captivated by this… this masterpiece that has shown up in his world. She continues.
“I was inside my apartment, watching the sunset. I saw everyone in the park, and I wanted to come down, but I… I wouldn’t have belonged.” She trails off, as if unsure that he will understand at all.

But somehow, whether through her herself, or perhaps through her portrait, he understands what she means perfectly. He could no more picture her in the summer world of only moments before then he can picture his little-blonde-cherry-innocence in this rain. She senses his acceptance and understanding, and continues;

“But then it started to rain, and I knew I would fit perfectly here.” Espirando.
She turns away from him, back toward the fence, back toward the river. Reaches her hand back to smooth her wet hair. He cannot see her face, cannot hear her at all, but somehow he is sure she is crying. Unsure of what to do next, his brush still poised uncertainly, he continues to stare. Suddenly his eyes widen, and he gasps. Stringendo. He has found his color. In the bottom left corner, he begins to add a new chord to this sad and lonely symphony. Silver-gray band. God, I hate gray, he thinks. Clear-white-crystal-white for the diamonds. Then, finally, what the painting has been waiting for. Heavy crescendo. Ruby-red-brilliant-red-redder-than-cherry-colored-cherry-flavored-popsikle-red heart-shaped stone. Finale.

He lifts his head from his masterpiece, but she is gone. There is only the river, and the clouds, and the rain. But don’t worry, there is still more to this symphony: from behind him, he hears a faint, echoing gasp. He spins, and meets her gaze, all gray eyes and gray tears. He doesn’t say a word, nor does she. He realizes he is holding his breath, scared to scare her away. Silently, with the soft, whispering movements of a ghost, she reaches around him and picks up the brush he has abandoned. Cambiare. With tears streaming freely down her cheeks, she creates a melody of her own. It is a fragile, tinkling song, much like an old music box would play. Single notes, mostly in high octaves, using Baby-satin-soft-sad-blue and, of course, more lonely-sad-gray. He watches; speechless, motionless, as a shape takes form in the final corner of the painting. Amoroso. A tombstone. Simple, unadorned except for a few words, done in soft-shimmery-barely-there-black:
Michael L. Harris
Sept. 3 1974-August 24 2005
Cherished Husband, Beloved Father

With the calculated movements of a director taking a bow, she places the paintbrush down and starts to walk away. Caesura. He watches her walk away. I’m exhausted, he realizes. The soft raindrops applaud as he rolls up the canvas and starts again for home. Ritornello. Pitter-patter-beat-beat-thump-thump.

It is a symphony. A symphony that only the keenest of ears on the quietest of days can hear. He does not always hear the symphony, although he is the creator. It begins with the music of the short, swift strokes of the brush… the steady beating of his heart… the quiet softness of the paints mixing together.




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