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January 24th, 2008 was a Saturday. Like most Saturdays I woke up around eleven, lifting my heavy eyelids after finally giving in to the inevitable morning, though it was almost noon by then. The sun was shining in bright slits through the blinds, and they lit up my eyelids like they were on fire. After twice rolling over, I stared at the blank white ceiling in front of my face.
I wearily propped myself up on my elbows. My cold bare feet moodily kicked off the heavy pink sheets. I slowly sat up, careful not to bump my head on the ceiling. I was fogging the air as I sighed and clambered down my top bunk and stumbled down the beige stairs to eat breakfast. The slow munching of the stale cereal mixed with the droning of the machinery to fill the house with a racket that reached the back of my head. The broken coo-coo clock struck twelve.
When I saw the bottom of my cereal bowl, I tottered clumsily to the DVD player, where I nudged in a disc of Friends, and settled down in the old green couch to watch the show. As the TV buzzed on like a lazy bee, I listened to the laughter of the audience. They seemed to enjoy the exciting lives of the six friends. Before I knew it, the producer’s name appeared on the screen. A new episode began as I sunk deeper into the worn out cushion, becoming the ultimate couch potato.
The clock was at one thirty when I heard some movement at the front door. I glanced over to see my mom enter with my sister. Carolina’s face was gleaming with sweat as she strutted by me in her dirty softball uniform. When I asked her, “How d’you do?” she smirked and nonchalantly replied, “We won, again. Of course” I chuckled at her glee, as she raced upstairs on her tiptoes to take a shower. My mom smiled at me kindly and asked me what I have been doing. I gestured to the TV. She then suggested I call my friends to come over. I smiled and said I would. I didn’t.
The clock was at three when my mom yelled my brother’s name. Carlos groaned and rushed down the stairs wearing only his jeans. He had been sleeping all this time, tired from a late night with friends, and now threw on his white shirt to go to Diddum’s for work. He sang loudly with his new headphones on. I didn’t see him again until the afternoon the next day. Carolina appeared texting and laughing from the stairs. I noticed that my phone was still off and turned it on. When it whirred to life, I glanced at it. Naturally, there were no messages, no texts. The Friends had just decided to go to the beach to meet Phoebe’s birth mom. My mom was at Japanese church. I was on my couch.
My mind wandered and my head began following a fly floating in my face, like a dog watching a tennis match. I snatched a few times, and then turned my head to see that the disc had ended. I pushed myself up and trudged up the stairs, slowly turning my head around to find something to do.
I entered my room and spotted in my closet an acrylic paint set, buried under piles of purses and scarves, unused for seven years. I looked over to “Landscape”. It was my first painting ever, from second grade. An earthy path cut through the green rolling hills leading to a hidden place. A soft clear sky hung over tall blue mountains that stood in the distance like a mother watching over her children from far off, while a tree stood on the left with leaves bursting from the branches. Clouds of pink flowers decorated the hills.
Remembering the excitement I felt that first time I picked up a paintbrush, an alien adrenaline shook awake inside my body. I hurriedly stacked up the Bourne series on an unused clothes rack, and propped my canvass on this “easel”. The metal of the paint tubes bent under my fingers as I squeezed the sharp colors onto a white paper plate. It smelled like a new pair of shoes.
I immediately stabbed my paintbrush into it, and colored the top half gray with thick even strokes. Then I painted the bottom half green. I started painting dots. Green dots, orange dots, red, blue, black; dots covered the gray sky until it was the softest bumpy texture like the sand on a beach. My brush slashed. It stabbed and spun. My back hunched. I bit my lip and rolled my sleeves. There was coloring, shading; shadows and bright lights; stripes and spots.
Before I knew it, I was covered head to toe with paint. I was panting and sweating like I had just ran a marathon. It was eight o’clock, and my sister and mother were staring at the canvass with wide eyes. There was a colorful night sky hanging over an empty park. A tree stood dark and hidden in the background, looking in past the black fence at the forgotten umbrella in a sand box. The umbrella was pale yellow and blue. It was alone except for the light post next to it, shining for the sole purpose of keeping the lonely object out of the eerie dark. The white light from the post sparkled in the sky. The image was one of friendship and loneliness, of loyalty and abandonment, of individualism and dependence, and of happiness and sadness. I saw myself in it.
I turned to my family, and they were smiling like they had just reunited with someone after a long absence. I smiled back. Then, to my astonishment, my phone rang. A friend’s voice rang through the phone, inviting me to go bowling with her and her friends the next day. I turned again to my painting, grinned, and agreed. Stephanie’s voice sang like a bell when she told me the time to meet. Twelve o’clock. I hung up, and dialed all my other friends, inviting them too. They all agreed. Upon saying the last “See you tomorrow” I spun to my painting. I signed it in the purest white paint, then turned the canvass over and dated it, 1/24/09. “Benevolent Light” was hung next to “Landscape”.
The short hand reached ten. I crawled under my sheets, pink and soft like the flowers on the hills. I whispered a prayer of thanks, and then lowered my lids to enter the place beyond the hills, where anything good can happen.
My eyes snapped open the next morning without the help of the warm morning sun. It was eight when I flew out of my bunk, like a bird released from a locked cage. I chose not to take a shower that day, but to arrive at the bowling alley still covered all over with the bright colors of “Benevolent Light”.