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Reed, a 22 year-old young woman with dark brown eyes and short red hair long enough to reach her neck, walks unconsciously on the streets like a lost traveler finding her way in the city. She has lived in Brooklyn for five years now and today she doesn’t know her way home. Her refusal to know what path or direction to take is the unusual drunk state of mind. With a big sigh her colleague Kristen says “I have to get home Reed, unlike you I still have a promotion to work for and you have it already so just enjoy it”. The confused, disappointed expression on Reed’s face justified the actions thereafter.
Like a proud person Reed took her hand away from Kristen and walked home, alone. After reaching the building, she fairly falls on the door of her apartment given her drunk state, although in her defense she hasn’t been drunk since 3 years and the minute four drinks today destroyed her mind. The apartment was all clean and covered with beautiful sky blue wallpaper with only one framed painting on the wall (an uncanny gift from Louis, the best friend). The dishes had been inside for days now much like the fancy expensive clothes that never see the light of the day except on special occasions. Taking four steps inside the house today this woman was filled with hatred for the place. The thought as to how for some people a promotion would be the best thing in their life but for that woman standing on a chair in the middle of the apartment was a nightmare. She felt the urge to twist her ankle by falling from the chair to avoid going to work tomorrow. This is what happened to her when she decided to make a career in commercial art by vandalizing her dream to be an extraordinary painter.
Reed walked up to the kitchen, drank some water and made some ready-made coffee. Her life is as plain as anyone else in this pathetic world. Life isn’t beautiful for a human where the paint hasn’t touched those thin fingers and the canvas lay beside the bed with no less than a colorful mark at the corner. This wasn’t a sudden guilt but a long unsettling feeling of betrayal to feelings, an unperturbed yet drilling chaos and emotionally unsatisfying thirst for freedom. Today, the double bed with bright colored sheet experienced the darkest days as the wall behind it became the canvas. Reed picked up the brushes and paint with an intention to create something extravagant on the wall. The legs took too much pain to stand and so did the mind. It started from the corner with the black hinged outline and the grey mixed along moving slowly with the brush. With every inch of color touched, spread and painted her soul came alive and with that her eyes shut and she fell asleep on the floor.
Waking up the next morning with paint on the floor isn’t a pleasant sight for a hungover person. The first day at work as the Creative Director of a big company is too much for Reed. Brushing off all the complicated emotions for later the woman got all dressed up. The black skirt tight to the knees and black striped shirt tucked inside made her look perfectly modest and all set for a tremendous day at work. Usually a place so tidy remains so during the day but becoming the boss comes with a price – early mornings, more responsibilities and talking to fellow visual artists. On the way to work, Reed would always stop outside the Brooklyn Museum and never go inside.
Today it’s different and she steps in to look at the beautiful work by the 19th century artists. Stuart Davis, one of the artist whose work inspired her to take up visual art and create those abstract images through technological software. “Home Scene” an artwork of Thomas Eakins remains one of those paintings she stared at for longer than usual. That distant, unacceptable and vain reaction of the mother towards her daughter sketching instead of listening to the music was metaphorically relatable. Every painting filled her up with overwhelming emotions and thus she exited.
The day got better by every inch as a new big office with her name on the door became her new working space. Childishly digging into the whole big experience, she sat back on the comfortable big chair hoping to begin on her first assignment delirious with joy. At lunch excited colleagues congratulated and presented small gifts on the new promotion. Demanding a group party with the new boss at the club set her evening plans just right. Pledging herself to not drink again while getting sturdy bad looks from Kristen. The day ended with an impeccable news that Todd (senior manager) was coming to the gathering as well. An unusual thought came to light that suddenly people have become friendlier after the promotion.
Dwelling into a day full of attention, Reed decided to put on an astonishing red dress. Her expectations were met rightfully with a bunch of compliments and hugs. Everyone seated down at a big table instantly ordering shots and cocktails. People called out the woman of the hour but she was just busy eyeing the whole place with its wooden flooring to the lit up bar on the side. Snapping out of those lost thoughts and refusing to drink alcohol marked the statement of the evening.
Todd looked towards Reed with a curious expression on his face and thus he enquired “how are you feeling about the first day after the big promotion?” Before anything could be said, a man walked up to the table wearing a black shirt with light beard on his face and a charming smile. He approached Reed and said “the fearful look on your face makes you uncertain of joy in this classy place and yet it remains a mystery why?” With a smart and raised brows she replied “The uncertain joy is in your mind which makes you shy from even moving that feet on the dance floor”.
After a deep intricate pause the man proposed to dance with her, with a curious nerve in the mind she decided to give it a go. Expecting nothing too intimate her mind gave a swirl to dance solo, the change of rhythm gave the man a chance to show his dance moves. Holding her right hand and touching the back, they were now doing the ballroom dance. Reed was known too well for her dancing among the colleagues and finally they got to see the moves live. Even though the dance was too passionate to not stop them from kissing but Reed’s idea of passion and intimacy died just as they got off the dance floor. Waving goodbye to the passionate and charming stranger after having a fun and gracious dinner with office colleagues and Todd. Arriving home wasn’t so pleasing today, cleaning up all that mess from last night got in the way of finding comfort in those soft silk sheets and fluffy pillow on the bed. Reed was just glad the first day went well knowing full well that there were more challenging days ahead.
After cleaning all the mess in the apartment she lied down trying to get some sleep. Suddenly a strange memory bestowed upon her which she was sure made no accurate sense. She woke up startling looking under the bed, opening all the drawers and finally she found it. The file to every idea that ever inspired her to create fairly beautiful art. There it is she said looking at the unfinished sketch from her memory. This can’t be real she said, a 14 year old’s ballerina swing step came true today. It was like a jump into the depths of her unconscious mind that carved a desire to dance like that one day. Avoiding to think about this, she drifted off to sleep.
The next few days went by working on various assignments and coming home really late. With such persistent late nights Reed hardly ever got time to pick up the brush again. On the weekend Reed ran into Todd on the way to a cafe. He made a proposal to visit one of the street art lanes 5 blocks away. Willing to make the day an interesting one she agreed.
Stunned by each artwork over the walls, she was filled with immense joy and pleasure just looking at them. The most breathtaking piece is of a woman with sharp detailed edges and every strand of the hair shaped so real. Even though her face is painted with black/white, there are a lot of different colors around it. “Those eyes have a deep sorrow in them and it almost feels like she lives in darkness” Reed says. Todd puzzled by the remarks asks, “Why do you think so?” It seems to me that there’s all this colorful world around her, she lives there but mostly there is contempt in the expression. Even the eyes are looking somewhere else like she’s lost and is trying to find an answer. Todd is convinced that something is wrong with Reed, by the look on his face she realizes that too much had been conveyed. They walk out of the street and travel back home. On her way back home there was utter silence, not a word was blurted out. The colors of street art awoke all the feelings Reed put to rest 2 years ago.
A poster in the room read “Crying is the most hateful emotion after guilt”.
At around midnight the brushes came out again. Throughout the night she painted the wall. Moving along the fingers refining all the edges, completely detached from reality and the job. Creating different emotions as bizarre brush strokes with serene shades and falling in love with her work. Time went by from early morning to afternoon and eventually she got tired. Sitting on the floor with curtains closed looking at a glorifying half painted wall and time came for another aggressive dance out. The next day Reed went to work and gave an excuse of food poisoning for her absence earlier. Reed started working on the new projects, her eyes froze towards the screen and there were some drastic changes on the art-board which later became a problem. The client rejected the design responding to it as “too introspective and unconventional”. Those words broke into her ear through the phone, she cut the call and made the changes. Client seemed to be happy with the changes and approved the design. The rest of the day is a strange memory for all the colleagues. Reed recalls her actions while sitting on couch, “there’s now a big sketch on the front wall in my office” she texts Louis. A mail rises up in the notification bar, it reads:
“In account to your actions today afternoon, I request you to consider consulting a psychiatrist for a few weeks. For the time being we advise you to take the rest of the week off and get better.”
For some unknown reason she was happy for a brief moment and slowly got afraid. Her brain had no idea what would be the next step. Going to the therapist may not bring about any solution but a call had to be made tomorrow afternoon. All she did the next moment was order Chinese food and watch television. This was one of the very old trick used by many, to convince oneself they were going to be just fine. She fell asleep within an hour right at the couch.
After three days of cleaning, staying busy and visiting the psychiatrist for two sessions Reed finally gave up on all of them. She went into her room closed the door shut the drapes and wore an unbuttoned shirt with a pair of shorts. Opening the room that had been shut for years now and bringing out the empty canvas board became the highlight of the day. Sketching countlessly on four different pages and it turns out the lost art came to life. This encouraged her to continue painting more pieces. She stares at those stunning pieces for hours and today she is finally happy.
You know how they say happiness doesn’t last long, well neither did this particular one.
At night Reed got a call from home, she heard her brother crying over the call and stuttered “What’s going on?” he explains “Mother, mother passed away”. Reed took a train back home early morning and left a text to the psychiatrist explaining the situation. She left all her bags at home and left for the cemetery. The depressive atmosphere at funeral’s made things worse and the thought of “everything will be fine” turned into “one more broken piece”. Her brother gave a short speech in the loving memory of their mother. A visit back to the old room and looking at the pictures brought up profound memories. On the way back to Brooklyn she looked at the family picture and truly missed her mother.
Coming back to the apartment didn’t go very well, she didn’t leave the bed for days. A few colleagues called up to check on her and they all went to voicemail. On Wednesday evening after two weeks of leave she went down to the museum and then to see the street art. Her only desire today is to paint but the mind is lost for ideas to complete the wall. A desire to have a piece of chocolate cake with coffee made her walk down to the nearest café. The only place to be seated in the café is besides a pretty woman. Reed walked up to the table and asked her if she could sit down. She smiled and said “sure”. Noticing the blue eye-shadow, blue sneakers, a bracelet with beads in the hand and four rings in the hand; Reed couldn’t help but ask why so many rings? This lead to a two hour interesting conversation along with a tasty chocolate cake. As it turns out Katherine lived just two blocks away from Reed’s place and they walked back together. Katherine told Reed “Sad moments can be the most beautiful days of life when you express them in the most abstract way” and with this she bid goodbye to the new friend.
Reed stepped into the room, sat down on the bed with all her paint brushes lying on the floor. After hours of silence she got up, picked the brushes and opened the paint cans. Throwing up most of the black color onto the background and spreading it along the lines gave it a bold insight. She cried for the first time while painting every part of the wall like it was a comfort to the unbearable pain inside. Giving the painting a final outlook, the brushes fell from her hand and down to the floor. She took steps back with a surprised look on her face and fear in her heart. The middle of the painting had a big door with the shade of blue inside and a sharp white line all around with no room for any more color. She picked up her phone clicked a picture and sent it to Louis. The sharp white outlines of two trees without any leaves with colorful paint on the ground. The black color around the sky brings up the question – did darkness open a new door to life?
Reed isn’t sure if she would get her job back at the moment but nothing worries her today!