They Call Her Amie

Marc Chagall once said “art picks up ware nature left of”. It’s true. All art, no matter what kind is rooted in nature, or the world around us. Perhaps it is human nature to mirror our surroundings. We are always influenced by it, whether we know of it or not. Of course art is not following the blueprint of nature exactly, that is just copying, not art. Art is taking what we have seen and felt and experienced as human beings and taking it a step farther. Inventing things and sorting out the brick-brack for the good parts to keep, and the bad parts to imagine

away.

My name is Ansley. My older sister died in a car crash a month ago. Her name was Amelia. Her friends… they would call her Amie. She was the most amazing painter I had ever seen. I too loved to paint, but what Amie could do to a blank canvas mystified all who knew her. I had known she was a drinker. Ma and Pa had no idea. I caught her in the studio she had set up in the garage. There were close lines all across the room from which watercolors would hang by close pins. She had a big magnificent easel there and a tall spindly stool. I came in and she was drinking from a silver whiskey vile, like in the movies. She said that whiskey was so much more romantic in a bottle like that. She said that she drank to soften the world. She said in made it easier to paint, to blur the lines. She said that her eyes would get foggy and even straight lines would look like brush strokes. Once Amie was wasted she would take her mug of brushes and squeeze out her paints. Sometimes on the bad days I would just squeeze them out for her, the whiskey had made her clumsy. She would climb awkwardly up onto the school and she would paint. Her fingers and mind steadied by the strokes. I would be scared she would fall of the chair or hurt herself. So I would take my easel and bring it over next to hers and paint besides her. I liked her paintings better sober. She found some fascination with the drunk ones. She said the strokes looked wild and free. But when looked at them I thought they were cold and held no talent. As if Amie's gift had leached out through her fingers from the romantic silver vial.


It went on for months and months. Everyday after school she would withdraw into the garage with her booze, and I would follow her. There was something sweet in the way we painted together. I would stay until she passed out on the floor and could no longer paint. Until she was unconscious and could no longer hurt herself. Ma and Pa never found out. Amie would tell them that the reason she was in the garage so much was because she was working on her portfolio for art college. That scared me, because she had nothing ready. I knew that she would never get into college now. I didn't want her to stay in the garage drinking her days away. The day before she died I will never forget.


I stood in the studio, waiting for Amie to get home. She flung up the garage door and waltzed in. Amie had a hell of a presence at 5'10. She had these big graphite gray eyes that examined you like a magnifying glass whenever you did something wrong. She gently placed her backpack on the floor and ran over to her paint box. Underneath the paint tubes is ware she hid her pretty silver flask. "You know what Ann... how bout we don't paint today? How bout we just talk. I feel like talkin." She unscrewed the top and let it run down her throat. Her pale blonde hair hung limp around her face. She looked hopeless and pathetic. "Sure Ame..." Amie smiled a big stupid goofy smile. "Well... what should we talk about...?” I asked quickly. I felt uneasy. Amie was sober for the moment and I realized that I didn't really know her. The only person I knew was the one who took over with the liquor. "What do you think about me?" Amie said softly, I could sense the alcohol taking over. She must have had some swigs on the way home. Her voice was high and childlike. She tucked her knees up underneath her chin. The question startled me. "Well you’re a real good painter when you’re sober." I said softly. Amie's neck went limp when I said it. Her head was fixed on the ground and it bobbed softly. She took her hand and slapped me across the face. I recoiled. "Amie...." I whimpered. But she just started to cry hysterically. They were those strange sobs she only got when she was drunk. Heaving and screaming and frantic. She curled up on the ground like she was a little baby, even though she was six years my senior. I melted at the sight of her like that. I ran to her side, once again her dutiful little sister maid, and rubbed her back with the palm of my hand. Her sobs sputtered out and she suddenly seemed happy again. She giggled girlishly as she traced an invisible pattern on the cement ground." What do you think of me?" Amie said in a high cartoonish voice. “You are very pretty.” I said forcing a smile. Amie seemed delighted. “Take the drink..." Amie smiled, thrusting the vile towards me. I felt it in my hands, cool and smooth and silver. I realized that if I drank it I could be part of her world. I would understand why drink was so important to her. Lifted it into my mouth and drank, letting it run down my mouth despite the urge to spit it out. It burned and popped like hot oil on my throat. "Sometimes I wanna drive a car. I wanna drive it away... I'm no good with people no more.... I wanna drive it away.” I put my hand over hers. "Like a vacation" I asked. Amie smiled and clapped her hands. "Exactly! Yes! Yes! Away!" Without warning she stepped towards me and wrapped me in her arms. She started to sob now. But real sobs not drunk sobs. She cried into my hair as I sat and cried with her. The drink started traveling from my toes to my shoulders, then engulfing me. I don't know what made me take one sip then another and another. I felt the world swirling around me. "Stop... stop...stop" I whispered to myself as I held my head in my arms. I was aware of Amie grabbing my hand. Pulling me towards her easel. She handed me a brush and we painted together on the same canvas. Even in my dazed state I could sense it. A give and take give and take. Beautiful. A symphony.


I woke up that day and I threw up over and over. My head throbbed. I had never seen this part of it. All I has seen was Amie dancing and painting around the garage. Amie looked sad. I would turn around and catch her looking at me in a weird way. Was it guilt? I looked at our canvas. It was the ugliest thing I had ever seen. It made me want to cry and tear it up. I was no better then her. In a fit of rage I grabbed it off the easel and threw it across the room. Amie's eyes grew wide. "No!" She screamed. Her eyes desperate and crazed. She ran across the room and picked it up, cradling it in her arms. She started crying again. "All you do is cry don't you!" I screamed. "I don’t want the stupid painting! You just want to take my future away from me to... yours is already gone! I just.... aghhhh! You’re like a little baby all the time!" Amie just stood there shocked, shaking. She walked out of the garage and toward her car and she drove away. That night was the call that Amie had driven of the road and killed herself. They said that they found a painting in her lap.

Looking back I was so stupid. I kept hearing her words. "Sometimes I wanna drive a car. I wanna drive it away... I'm no good with people no more.... I wanna drive it away." I had though she meant a vacation. She had wanted to kill herself. I locked myself in my room and I entered a dark place. I cried for Amie and what she had done. I was mad at her. I was mad at her for leaving and doing this to me. I felt such a sense of betrayal. Sisters are supposed to be there for each other forever. To be maids of honor in each other’s weddings. To go out and have fun. But I lost my sister at eleven years old. I never experienced that. In the wake of Amie's death I would go down to the garage and paint all day long. Always the same thing. It was Amie. Or crumpled cars. So many dark days I would spend painting her, the scene. So many lightless days that bled unnoticed into nights and days again. Nothing mattered.

Marc Chagall once said "art pick up ware nature left off". Nature's fiercest night, death, took my sister away from me. Now through art I am bringing her back, picking up ware our life together left off. I Got into RISD and became a professional painter. With every painting I finished she was living again. She was proud of me some ware, as cheesy as it sounds. I love my sister and she still touches me. When I am upset I can still feel her crying into me hair. When I am upset I still feel the sting of her slap. But she is strongest when I feel happy. When I can conjure up the feeling of our drunken painting symphony. One two, one two. The last time she painted. We were like one hand, one person. She will always be my sad drunken guardian angel.





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509_daisy said...
Apr. 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm
omg! SO SAD!!!!! i was in tears.... heart breaking
 
seven_stones replied...
Apr. 22, 2010 at 10:38 am
thank u.... i suppose
 
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