Watercolours. This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 15, 2012
The days dragged on like painfully slow opera performances. Just when I felt a sense of relief and contentment with the fact it had come to a thunderous end, another verse of shrill singing rolled on relentlessly forward. Ever since it happened, I became an ice sculpture; something that was dazzling and brimming with potential, but with one mere blow shattered into sparkling fragments that melted to a dull reflection. I found myself unable to recover, even the prospect of walking alongside a soothing string of a white sand beach that lay across our house troubled me, as I would feel my forehead crinkle with sadness.

I aimlessly laced my fingers around the golden door handle that gleamed in the late November light, heaving my weight into the door. Our beach house lay open to the rampant and yet calming Atlantic Ocean, a mere dot along the beautiful Cape Cod coastline. I used to teem with excitement and the idea of returning to such a wise building, but now all it caused me was pain and disillusion. The house once was a spotless establishment with paintings that had bright shades of gold, purple, and blue. Now, dust collected under every armchair, and the pieces of art which I used to view with such pride blended into the walls. I had lost my sense of appreciation, and I hated myself for it. I felt disgusted with my lack of compassion, but any register of emotion just agitated my still healing heart.

I trudged down to my bedroom, and threw my bag into the sharp corner. As a child, I had always loved blue and its distinct association with winter and the cold. My brother helped me paint my room a pale blue; a shade I constantly seek in a lover. I had a white comforter with a dramatic blue floral pattern, and a large window that looked out onto the turbulent ocean. Every summer, our town flocks with tourists and seasonal citizens, and the once forlorn beach is overflowing with people. Yet, my favourite time of year was the winter, as the lapping ocean was terrifyingly cold, and the sand was almost freezing from the outside temperature. Whenever I felt like I needed some sort of spiritual redemption, I would stroll without purpose along the beach letting my mind wander to thoughts of large cities and autumn trees. I loved when the sky was overcast and the ocean reflected a dark grey shade. I would always wear a black coat as I ventured out during this weather, as there was something dissonantly beautiful about a white sky, a grey ocean, and a dark coat.

I sat down on the soft bedspread, and stared at my wall unseeingly, like I did every single day since it happened. There was an array of paintings on the wall, pictures that captured moments of careless joy and thoughtful despair. I had painted all of these, and during my childhood I had fallen in love with watercolour paints. When I first embarked on my artistic journey, I didn’t paint anything on canvas or paper, instead I would use a large jam jar my mother had cleaned out and filled with water, and dip different paintbrushes with different colours into it. I used to watch the tumbling streaks of colour descend to the bottom of the jar, somersaulting and plummeting with terrific, tragic elegance. Only when I was about eight was I able to avert my gaze from the glass jar, and began to bring the colours to life on a page. I would draw complex pencil sketches, and attempt to apply some vivacious quality to them by painting them without true purpose. My mother used to giggle and gasp with joy at my creations, yet while she struggled to fight off the toxic cancer cells that plagued her, she would only produce a strained smile. I painted a single drooping lily to place on her coffin, and tried to let my sentiments be buried with such a delicate flower.

Its times like these where I wish I could feel the strength of my brother’s arms around me. His contagious laugh would create a ripple of joy in my dissatisfaction, and soon a smile pulled at my lips. Despite his shared love of physics with my father, he decided to go off and fight in the army for the United States as the war in Europe raged on without any evidence of resolution. He sought out a more substantial salary and job security, which unfortunately being a physicist did not provide. He broke my father’s heart, and I remember telling him that over the phone the week before he left for France. I reminded him of the pain he caused our father, and I could hear the curl of a smile on his mouth over the phone, “You know Aurelia, I can’t always be sitting at home calculating velocity, I have to go out and experience the velocity of the life around me.”

When he left, my father simply threw himself further into his work of physics formulas and problems. I would prepare a modest dinner that created a relaxing aroma of Indian spices, and my father would sit down at our mahogany table and try to explain with great impatience the formula which he was trying to solve. His emerald eyes would shine with enthusiasm, and the grin of satisfaction he wore illuminated his whole face. The loss of his wife was crippling and the pain still raw, but he always threw himself in problems relating to gravitational pulls. The breathless sentences did not register with my mind, and I would sit in silence and obediently listen to his scientific theories. I knew my father just wished that I would suddenly erupt with interest for his passion, like the way my brother did, but my thoughts were constantly with the curves of paintbrushes. We had absolutely nothing in common, and our conversations were completely disconnected.

I was alone; completely isolated in a costal wonderland, without a mother or a brother. These thoughts would seep into my mind every day, and that’s when it would start. My chest would heave with sadness as my heart swelled with sorrow, and my mouth emitted a crashing sob. Hot tears would stream down my cheeks, and the vision of my paintings before me became blurred and I pictured my mother’s soft coo as she ran her frail fingers through my hair. I was doomed to this eternal cycle of vicious loneliness, and any prospect of happiness would evade me for the rest of my life.


I glanced up from my battered floor, my voice hoarse from my hysterical cries. My father stood in my doorway, the same look of concern and disappointment staining his aged face. He wore a crimson red sweater that hung loosely on his frame and anxiously adjusted his large glasses to sit comfortably on the bridge of his nose. He never knew what to say to me, it seemed he believed that every word he would say would only evoke another sentiment of grief within him or me. He effortlessly glided across the room, and sat down at my oak wood desk. He reached for a blank page and scribbled a few words and numbers onto to it, and slowly my sobs seemed to weaken.

“I was thinking, for your paintings, you’re going to need a more realistic perspective of how far ships sink into the water. I know how you love to paint the sailboats that scatter across the shoreline, and I want your work to be as authentic as possible.”

I rubbed my swollen eyes and felt something reminiscent of a smile appear on my face. I felt hope stir within me, a sensation that had been absent for over two years. Although my father and I couldn’t share his endless love for physics, he could apply his expertise to improve my work, which is all I could ever ask for.

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