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The Vibrant Hero
“And then some more blue here,” I mumbled to myself, skimming the building with the paint on my hand. “Ah, I love this color!”
I stand before the back of a building, watching people below my ladder pass me by. They never notice the lively colors I’m painting and don’t need to. I love the anonymity, staying out of the public eye. I enjoy painting these buildings, and even more when it’s just me. Silence is something that many people tend to take for granted. But this routine is interrupted by a girl who is passing by. I see her stop out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t think regular people could see me and my things, but I guess that if they could, it would be strange to see a girl-like creature on a ladder with a table-sized tray of paint. I turn to face her, and our eyes meet.
“Hello,” I called out, hoping to balance loud and gentle. “Can you see me?”
I realize it is a nonsensical question, but only after I ask her my question. She walks into the alleyway where my ladder is placed and stares up at me in confusion. She pauses for a few moments to process what she is seeing.
“Yeah, I guess so,” She announced, just loud enough for me to hear her. “What are you doing?”
“I’m painting,” I replied, smiling and showing her the picture that now covers the building. “It’s a rainbow. We need more of those in this city, don’t you think?”
“Uh, I don’t mean to cause trouble,” She said nervously. “But isn’t that… you know. Illegal?”
“Hold on,” I responded, lifting my paint tray and climbing down the ladder. “I can explain what’s going on.”
She nods at me as I slowly descend from the ladder. Once my feet are stable on the cracked pavement, I continue the conversation in a quieter manner.
“So, there’s a lot to explain,” I said, hoping that she would take my word for it. “I’m not from here. And I’m not painting in the way you’d expect.”
She gives me a strange and confused look, which makes me nervously attempt to explain myself faster.
“I’m from a more magical city. My paint isn’t really paint. It’s a concentration of emotions that will emit from the buildings that I put it on,” I explained, doing my best to keep a good pace and confident tone. “It’s supposed to keep people happy, like you. The color is only temporary, but the feeling will stay until the building is torn from the ground. Don’t worry. I’ve done this before. See?”
I show her my paints and their labels, and she seems mesmerized.
“Wow,” She muttered, filled with genuine interest that I could see on her face. “That’s so fascinating. How have I never heard of you? May I ask what your name is?”
Those two questions catch me a little off guard. I’ve never been noticed, let alone asked what my name is. I realize, at this moment, that I don’t really have one.
“Well, you’ve probably never heard of me because you’re not supposed to see me,” I exclaimed, never really thinking about these types of questions before. “You must be special or gifted in some way. So, uh, I guess I don’t really have one.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” She said, suddenly sorrowful and apologetic. “That must be awful to paint all these buildings and not get any attention.”
Honestly, I don’t understand her dismay. I just do what I do, and my work is always something I’m happy to accomplish.
“It’s alright, really,” I beamed. “To paint a city with the happiness it lacks is a wonderfully thankless job. I do what I love without feeling like I’m under a constant, burning spotlight.”
She seems a little confused by my dislike for attention, but I can tell that she is attempting to empathize.
“Really?” She asked. “You don’t mind the invisibility?”
I smile with the reminder of why I love this job so much.
“Nope,” I announced. “Helping people out from the alleyways and shadows of busy cities are the places where I love to spend my time.”
We both pause for a moment to take it all in. I am taking in the scenery while she seems to process who she is talking to. It is certainly a lot for both of us, but I’ve always been one to try new things.
“I might not like the attention,” I said. “But I do like talking to you. This is nice.”
She smiles at me. She notices the sun starting to set and starts to get a bit anxious.
“Me too,” She said. “But it’s getting late. I really should get going soon.”
“Wait,” I announced. “Let me give you something before you go.”
“Oh,” she sighed. “You don’t have to do that.”
She’s trying to be polite, but I see the way her eyes lit up when I mentioned it. I reach into a bag that is sitting on my paint tray and pull out a small pack of paint bottles.
“Here,” I whispered, gently handing them to her. “Use them wherever you’d like. Just try to be careful.”
“Woah,” She said. “Thank you, they’re so pretty!”
“You’re welcome!” I replied enthusiastically. “Spread the message, see? Just don’t say it came from me because I’m not sure people will believe you.”
“Alright, thank you,” She said. “But I really should go home now. Goodnight. Have fun with your painting. I’ll be looking up when I see buildings from now on.”
Even though she seems tired, she continues to smile at me. I can tell she is a good person who will put the paints to good use. Although I just met her, I feel a great sense of trust. I guess a little attention doesn’t hurt, but it’s refreshing to only gain the attention of a single person.
“Goodnight,” I responded. “Maybe I’ll see you again sometime.”