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Brand New Eyes

“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that that situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
? Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free




Part 1: Something Missing


A cool hand of salty oceanside wind brushed through the open windows of a small cottage along with rays of golden sunshine, ruffling the various sizes of canvas papers and paint brushes on a faded tan colored oak table. On the stainless granite kitchen counters sat a bowl of fresh fruit and a few pencil sketches of all different items and people alike, from landscapes to portraits. In the next room, all that could be heard was the rhythmic swishing of a paintbrush on canvas and the faint breathing of someone submerged in deep focus and concentration. As the swishing subsided, the painter sighed and stepped back to admire his work. He scratched his scruffy chin and brushed his paint spattered shirt as he stared for minutes at his painting. “It is a great work,” he murmured in a raspy voice to himself. “But something is missing.” As he pondered what this missing thing was, he wandered to the kitchen to fix something to eat; he had not eaten since the night before. As he passed the sketch ridden countertop, his eyes wouldn’t drag themselves away from a particular spot on the end of the speckled granite closest to the door. There lay letters from his old time friend, William, that he had not responded to in months. The latest one was from the day before and as he picked it up, he read it for the fifth time:


Dear Claude,


How has everything been going for you? Your lack of responses to my letters have kept me wondering if something is wrong. I dearly hope it was not me doing the wrong, you know how I can be sometimes. I hope my thoughts aren’t Do you like your new house and town better than the old one? If I were you, I definitely would. How has the selling of your artwork been coming? Living next to the ocean and all, you must have some great inspiration that many customers will love. Yet again, your pieces are always so lovely. Have you met any women? If so, when I come and pay you a visit, perhaps I can meet one myself! Speaking of visiting, I was going to ask you when the best time was for us to get together over lunch, since it is summer and I don’t have to teach anymore. Would sometime next week be okay? Hope all is well, good luck with your further endeavors. Please res


Your dearest friend,


William


?


Claude looked down at the paper again with a weary look in his cloudy day eyes. His hands that looked about 10 years older than 25 skimmed their way over the crinkled edges. He didn’t exactly know why he had not written anything back to William yet, but he suspected that the reason had to do with the small, but significant thing inside him that he had been missing since the year before in the cold month of January. The artist put down the letter, closed his weary eyes and put his fingers to his aching temples. The memories, harsh and sharp panged his brain and he found that tears were beginning to well in his eyes. His mind whisked back to the warm living room and the crackling fire in which himself and Will were playing cards while sharing a few beers. Claude’s sister, Clarisse, had been out that night grabbing a few last minute groceries before the predicted ice storm set in the next day and she wouldn’t be able to drive. When the doorbell rang, Claude vividly remembered jumping to the door to let his sister in, thinking how cold she must be. Instead of seeing her thin figure and shining green eyes partially hidden by jet black hair, he saw a fat police officer with a grim expression on his face. What the officer had said sent Claude into a shock and he couldn’t find it in him to utter a single sound or even cry. He had just stood there numbly while the officer delivered the news. The world had lost a large portion of its beauty that night in a small station wagon on an icy back road. The funeral was held a few days later, and the artist recalled whispering goodbye to his little sister as the other people murmured prayers and moaned “Amazing Grace”. Claude’s mind snapped back to the present as a harsh gull cry echoed from the shore. With a sudden anger, he stormed out of the house, something he hardly ever did, and slammed the screen door shut behind him with a bang.




Part 2: Beautiful Nightmares


Gentle waves lapped onto the silky sand, moving and sifting through it, as if deciding which pieces of sediment they should take back out to sea. The water looked like churning glass and Claude’s hot tears added drop after drop more to the ever moving ocean. He was hunched over with his elbows on his knees, slumped on the slimy gray boulders leading down to the waves. The shining, sunlit beach was sprawled on his right, a sloping field of boulders on his left and behind him lay a soft field of thin wispy grass. The sand was glittering in such a fantastic manner that it made his eyes water to stare at it too long. Claude wiped the last of his tears away with the back of his hand and looked around him. The scene was so beautiful, so peaceful. The gulls flapped and occasionally called overhead while the sun glistened over the water, illuminating every salty droplet into a shimmering crystal. The air tinted Claude’s tongue with salt and grass as he licked his chapped lips. This was a pretty place after all, but as his face twisted in pain, the young man didn't care to truly see it, didn't think anything of the sour salt on his tongue and gentle spray on his bare feet from the cool waves below. All he felt was air and water, only saw an ocean. But through everything, Clarisse’s intelligent emerald eyes and lighthearted smile stared back at him as if saying, I‘m in everything you see Claude. It‘s your fault. If you weren‘t there to help me that night, you still would have had your sister. Claude knew these words were just a figment of his fears, but there was something about them that just screamed truth. He then repeated the same questions in his mind on the beach as when he had been lying wide awake in bed the night after her funeral. Why did this happen? Is it really my fault? How could things just change like this? Why did they have to change?… Claude suddenly realized with a jolt why he couldn’t smile much anymore, why he couldn’t find the inspiration to create artwork like he used to and why he didn’t have the heart to even write a letter to his concerned best friend. Everything he saw only served as a thin veil over his sister’s eyes; her wide, sparkling, green eyes.


Claude stressed his mind over this realization, not even caring to check his watch for the time. His stomach rumbled in irritated protests, but he didn’t want to move from that boulder, so he kept his eyes glued to the horizon. Streaks of brilliant orange and pink set across the blue sky, and the sun began to creep lower and lower, taking the warmth and light with it. The artist remained sitting like a statue, quietly breathing and barely moving at all. Had things been different, he would have been taken by the beauty of the sunset and went on to paint a beautiful replica. Soon enough, night fell like a dark blanket on the world; however, Claude remained in that exact place, inhaling deeply, filling his lungs with the cool fresh air.




Part 3: New Perspective


The darkness came fast like a thunderhead in a summer storm, except not as violent; it was almost unsure of itself as it crept up the sand, its black toes creating shadows across the beach. The rocks that Claude was sitting upon looked like sleeping giants, black silhouettes against the darkening land. He sat in a stiff bundle; his rigid posture had reduced to a half hearted slump. Claude glanced around, fresh tears from his bitter memories threatening to fall. The night breeze swept through the field behind him and playfully tousled the ends of his hair, which was the same color as his sister's had been. Fireflies waltzed around him, first blinking in one spot, then seconds later blinking again, indicating that they were at least ten feet away from where they were before. The dark blanket hanging over the world had twinkling jewles speckled all over it, as well as a full moon, dangling over the sea like a pearl from a queen's necklace. The moonlight reflected off the water and the waves twinkled with silver. The artist stared around some more; it really was a breathtaking scene. There was something about the darkness that was both intimidating and mystifying. Though he couldn't see much besides the moonlit sea as the hours wore on, he enjoyed it. Everything was covered in peaceful darkness, soothed to a calm rest by the slightly stirring nighttime air. It was as if the world was afraid to disturb the soft humming of the ocean coupled with the crickets. And nowhere did Claude see that familiar pair of sparkling emerald eyes staring back at him. He didn't see the crackling fire or the round police officer. He didn't hear the droning funeral songs or the broken cries of his family, all clad in black. The only black he saw was the gentle dark resting over the beach like an enormous palm of a hand. It was quite odd; Claude felt as if the beach had somehow changed, transformed, from the previous afternoon. The sun had only illuminated the veil over his taunting memories of his deceased sister. The darkness seemed to console him, put to rest his aching thoughts, and bring about a new perspective.


Part 4: Brand New Eyes


As the sun rose over the sea, signaling the beginning of a fresh day, Claude looked up at the brightening sky, streaked with brushstrokes of scarlet. He didn't want the day to come; he wanted to feel the night air creeping with cool feet across his skin. But yet, as the warmth radiating from the sunrise kissed his face, Claude felt different. Though the darkness wasn't there to cover the world in which he had known as a sheet of glass that failed to cover Clarisse's dead memory, Claude did not see her pale skin, her jubilant smile or her shining gaze. He could not hear her tinkling laugh or her lighthearted voice. He saw the glistening ocean, the shore lined with a silk road of sand. He gazed in wonder at the clear blue sky, nestling a golden sun that smiled down upon the earth. The same questions about his sister's death that had rang through his brain the previous day seemed no longer embedded with any sort of truth, or logic for that matter. And for the first time since that cold winter night, Claude smiled. He grinned wide and proud, suddenly with a strong desire for the world to see him doing so. He stood up, tiptoed off of the rocks, stretched his stiff muscles and began to jog energetically back to his house. He moved freely; the locks on the chains over his bones were broken and he felt like he could skip to the moon and back. His eyes couldn't get enough of the new world he had discovered laying all around him. He promised himself he would bring out the blooming young artist and friend to William that had been lying dormant inside of him all this time, and he would live with eyes foward, never stopping to turn back. He thrust his arms out like an eagle spreads it's great wings and whispered, "I forgive you." He spoke this several times, each time referring to himself as both the one being forgiven and the one doing the forgiving. He vowed to would live on with a clearer vision, and calm mind; calm as the ocean waves rolling onto the sand. Claude had found himself a pair of brand new eyes that shined and sparkled with all the youth he had thought he lost long ago. He was only 25 after all, and had his whole life ahead of him yet.


The End




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