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A Placid Painting
Once in our day and age there lived a poor artist. This man dwelt in a humble apartment on the top floor of an old complex. This was the place in which the artist had crafted his dreams. Within those tight, cramped walls he painted his first masterpiece. This creation sparked many more like it and the artist quickly became very successful. People loved his work and paid top dollar for it. Although the artist knew his new income could support a much more lavish dwelling, he could not separate himself from the place in which he went from nothing to cloud-nine. So, the artist lived peacefully in his small apartment and fallowed his heart in his painting.
As the artist’s reputation spread, he began to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful; those who sustained a higher way of life. He quickly acquired a handful of friends from this revered community. These people urged him incessantly too buy a nicer home and leave his “shack in the past. Amidst the influence and pressure of the artist’s friends, he reluctantly decided to purchase a plush, Victorian style house a few miles from his old apartment.
One day the artist was admiring his new lot. He would be moving in the following morning and wanted to survey the area one last time. While his house was luxurious and grand, the artist still felt like his real home, his foundation, was back in the city, in his humble apartment.
When the artist returned home to his apartment complex, he was startled to find a crowd of pedestrians; all gasping and pointing at something. When the artist looked, his heart dropped. The building was on fire. His home was engulfed in ravenous flames. The artists ran to a fireman nearby and asked in desperation if the fire could be put out. The fireman just stared at him solemnly. At that moment, the artist heard a loud crack. When he turned, he saw the entire complex coming down, collapsing in a cloud of debris. There was nothing the firemen could do but watch, and contain the flames to the area. The artist felt himself collapsing as well, and fell to his knees. His paintings, is home, everything was gone in a flash. While he wept, one of his friends ran up to him. Having heard the grim news, the friend had fled to the scene of the fire well before the artist himself arrived. The friend helped the artist to his feet and explained that a group of government charity workers had managed to save all the contents of the apartment complex, including all the artist’s work.
The artist was overjoyed and asked with excitement where the workers had put everything. The friend answered that all of his possessions, along with those of the other victims, had to be placed in the fenced off area of a nearby construction site to keep the possessions safe from thieves. They would move everything back to the owners once they were relocated. The artist felt relieved, but in irony of the moment, the sickening crack of thunder rumbled the air. The artist looked heavenward and saw a thick, black, sinister pile of clouds advancing slowly from a distance. The artist, in sudden panic, asked if the possessions were covered from the approaching storm. The friend replied that he had not seen the workers make an effort to cover anything, and he urged the artist to swiftly run on foot to the scene in light of the traffic rush to the area. Directions were given and the artist, without missing a beat, turned from the impending storm and sprinted with all his power to save his masterpieces.
The storm curled with ashen arms towards the site, racing the artist to his life’s work. The artist ran into people as he tore along the sidewalk. It was not a time for chivalry. He could already paint a vivid picture in his mind of dripping canvases and muddled colors. With beads of perspiration budding on the artist’s face, he scudded in a frenzy towards the site, drawing closer and closer in the near distance. The thunder cloud was almost directly over hi now, and it’s malignant shadow only drove him to run quicker.
Stumbling to a stop, the artist arrived at the cold, silver, chain-linked fence. Frantically, he looked for a way over the wall of metal. The artist could see his collection of accomplishments just ten feet away among piles of dirty chairs and crumpled blankets. “Why didn’t they put a tarp up?” the artist thought with indignation as he ran back and forth in an attempt to find a gate. A hedge of slim razor-wire bulged at the top of the fence. There was no visible way over. Doubt thick as storm clouds webbed the artist’s thoughts. “There has to be a way through!”
A square gate appeared as the artist ran to the other side, but his excitement quickly turned to dread once the artist noticed a rust-sheathed chain and padlock, binding fence to gate. It would not open. The cloud advanced and a sickening darkness pooled silently over the city. Drawing a ragged breath, the artist composed his whirling conscious. He approached the gate and pulled against the chain, making a tight gap. The opening, however, constricted the artist to the point in which he could only climb halfway through. Yelling in rage and frustration, the darkness thickened.
A clap of thunder struck the earth, very close this time. Ideas swam away as the artist attempted to gather his thoughts. The stoic chain links blinked as the last rays of sun gave way to the quall. Suddenly the artist was running again. He covered the entire area, mind spinning for an entrance, asking pedrestrians, and finding nothing nor receiving any help. Overcome by fatigue, the artist paced in a slow circle, pondering. A single raindrop landed on his hand. It was the heaviest object the artist had ever felt.
The artist turned and lurched to the gate as silent, soft rain dappled the earth. The artist slammed the gate, kicked it, and finding a sledge hammer laying in the soil, struck with padlock in repetition with all his mite. Nothing. Nothing happened at all.
The artist broke down. It was over. The rain began to pick up, and two of his pieces, two still-lives that had taken countless hours, began to drip and smear against the gentle torrent. Tears flowed. Landmarks of the artist’s life were being destroyed right in front of him; early paintings that had helped him through his hardest times, and there was nothing the artist could do to stop the destruction.
As the man wept against the fence, a stranger passing by noticed him. In sympathy, the stranger asked the artist why he was crying. He pointed to his artwork and explained the situation as “hopeless.” This stranger, confused, motioned right across the street to ametal ladder and an improvised plywood sign sitting in plain view.
The sign read “If you are a victim of the fire, use this to access your belongings. We could not open the fence. There is a second ladder on the other side to get back over. Watch the razor wire!”
Sure enough, just on the other side of the fence rested the second ladder. The top jutted easily over the razor wire, providing an easy, safe way out. Had the artist acted without so much desperation, taking faith that the government workers provided some way through, he would have saved the two still-life paintings that now lay as marred reflections of their original beauty. The artist used the ladder and retrieved the rest of his art before the rain turned into a torrent. There was little damage to the remaining pieces, but the mangled still-lives rested heavy in his heart.
It was confounding to the artist how much his attitude had blinded him. Just across the street a solution lay, yet fear, doubt, and desperation conspired against him. The blurred remains of the artist’s paintings hang in his lavish office to this day as a reminder to him that perception is everything. As strokes of a brush, days leave their color on the canvas of life. A placid painting, the artist knows, Is only a thought away.