Friday, January 28, 2011

Eternal Canvas a short story by Chelsea Rose

Happy Friday all.
For the first time on my blog I am going to share a short fiction story I wrote.
I am particpating in a fiction writing party a friend of mine holds once a month on her blog. The offical blog party begins on Sunday but seeing that i beleive i wont have much time to access the computer over the weekend i figured i would go ahead and post it today. Anyhoo, for those who enjoy reading please feel free and do let me know your thoughts!
Speical thanks to my writing buddies Sara and Michelle for making a few much needed swipes through with their red markers. Much love!

"Eternal Canvas"
a short fiction story by Chelsea Rose Rippel

Tattered sleeves whisked wildly as the fringed and ragged hair of the paint brush swirled its color leaving a torrential vomit of rainbow in its wake. The canvas was shadowed here and there by a looming figure so alive with energy the room radiated and glowed in the strange wafting warmth emitted. Yes, there she stood, her head cocked ever so to the right, pale lips parted, blood shot eyes intent yet soft focused on the canvas as she watched in her own fevered way the delicate bones, joints and sinuses of her hand weave strange and wondrous worlds. Each of her smoldering paint strokes focused the inexplicable webbing of truth that gathered at times like these as buds of daggered lightning, alighting from somewhere above, or was it in-between? It had always funneled this way, where ever it came from, straight into that whirling vein of energy that taped deep into the membrane of her crown. These spasms were impossible to ignore as they punctured and reverberated deep within that mysterious gland, always resting in its nest of brain matter, cozy in its den smack dab in the middle of her forehead, the location of what the ancient shamans deemed The Third Eye...

She paused, dropping the paint brush to free her hand so that she might press her finger tips to the throbbing ember that was her cranium. She had turned away from her work and all at once the spell was broken; she had been granted a reprieve. There yes, she rubbed the ache there, in-between the eyes, kneading it to milk the tension away only to find that the burning was contagious and had slowly flushed her entire system with spasms of feeling. Within that split second she became all too aware of bodily needs. The pain was more than severe so her knees buckled and she fell back, away from the easel, away from the varnishes, the glazes, the rags, the paint tubes. She landed in a crumple on her futon mattress, the only other furnishing in the closet sized dwelling.

“What is this? Why is this? What day is it?” her intellect demanded. Her stomach, a hard knot, clenched and burned as if eating its way out of her. She blindly pawed at her body but felt nothing more than a series of lumps that seemed to be horribly brittle and sunken. She wanted to have a look in the mirror but no matter how hard her mind commanded the body to move its only response was a series of shudders- it just shivered in its huddle of bone and flesh on the bed. She laid like that without concept of time, with no other thought in her mind but the concentration needed for each breath taken and released.
Sparrow had successfully scavenged enough supplies to last them another month but it had taken longer than usual which added to his growing concern that soon there would be nothing left to salvage. How then would he continue to feed and clothe himself and Dove? He had dreams of seeds, of clean water and warm fertile soil to grow beans, tomatoes, carrots, celery, potato, squash and more. But the only food he had ever known came from a can and even if he had access to seeds the land had been left parched and toxic years before he had entered the world. And still, Sparrow had more immediate concerns to deal with. He had been gone for how many weeks? He hoped desperately that Dove had managed to keep away from her painting.

Sparrow’s footsteps were harried and faltering in his rapid efforts to propel himself through oil slicked puddles. As he hurdled through alleyways, fingers of rusted barbed wire clawed at his coat, and he pushed himself harder, jolting through a maze of abandoned buildings. The concrete and steel behemoths were infested with a plethora of strange folks, street urchins, squatters, and who knows what other remnants of the human race—all struggling to survive.

Why was he so worried? He had carefully packed away all her art materials before leaving on his hunt. Dove had promised to do her best to resist the calling she would inevitably feel. It had all started out simply enough, hadn’t it? They had found each other early on before either of them could speak more than a few words. It was a miracle they had come this far alone together, pitted against a self destructive and decaying world. Still, they had endured and Sparrow wasn’t about to give up now, even if their woes had begun to extend far beyond the dangers of the streets out into a great and unnerving mystery.

But it wasn’t all that mysterious if one considered Dove and her habits. She always did have a need to draw. Sparrow had seen her first doing it on concrete, using the end of a burnt piece of wood to furiously mark out spirals, eyes, planets and a great number of other things they had no words for. As they grew together so did their interests and ambitions. Sparrow himself had always been a tinkerer, enjoying the thrill of improvised creation and invention. Dove continued to draw more frequently until she eventually began doing it by impulse no matter the situation.

One day when Sparrow was down scavenging in the lower Warf end of what once was the great city’s epicenter, he came upon the ruins of a school. Anything of value seemed to have already been long since looted or destroyed by the moist and salty costal air. Yet as he had sifted through the rubble, things of color and shape began to catch his eye. Pieces of canvas they were with great swooping lines of jade and indigo making up the form of a hillside green with pasture. The next was drawn out in a frenzy of red scribbles that seemed to magically conjure up a detailed portrait of a young woman naked and posed as if reaching to the stars. There was more of this, much more and so he began to collect piles of these drawings, rolling them up all together as one to take back to Dove.

Sparrow had spun around with an ecstatic spirit, thrilled to run back and present Dove with these gifts, but in his mad dash his foot caught on something hard. Falling forward he broke right through the rotted board of a closet only to reveal a great many storage tubs. With shaking hands he opened each container in awe as he began to see tubes of color, marvelously elegant brushes of all different shapes and jars containing important looking gels and liquids. Sparrow also found a great many pieces of pure white canvas stretched firm and taunt over wooden bars sealed tightly in protective plastic. The newness of it all gleamed and sparkled. He felt he had truly found a treasure trove.

When Sparrow presented the loot to Dove, her face lit up like a lantern, and she gleefully sorted through the tubes of pigment. He helped her set up the easel he had found once he had replaced a few hinges. Sparrow remembers being absolutely astonished at how quickly and with such ease Dove utilized the supplies. No, she had never seen a paint brush or any of the other supplies yet she seemed to instinctively know what to do with each.

This was all less than two months ago and ever since he watched Dove fall into an existence almost akin to slavery. Day in and day out she poured herself into her canvas paintings. If Sparrow was not there to care for her he doubted Dove’s ability to remember to eat or even to relieve herself. Painting had claimed her very existence almost entirely. When he did manage to pull Dove away from her work she seemed dazed, her jaw slack and her large marvelous eyes roving at a loss even when looking upon his face. Sparrow hadn’t a clue what to do, almost preferring the sharp focused and demon driver Dove then the listless, living dead Dove that he was confronted with when he pulled her away from her work.

It was early morning, the sun just beginning to break the steely obsidian skin of the horizon, revealing a harsh and jagged skyline full of building remnants and swirling entities of bonfire smoke. The oddly prehistoric silhouetted forms of burnt out street lamps jutted every stretch of pavement like teeth serving as mocking reminders of a failed and ruined way of life. Their home, the abandoned water tower, was planted in one of the few plots of land void of large forsaken buildings. Sparrow snaked his way through the graveyard of junk that was piled high and deep, past old decomposing car shells, tires, broken furniture, computer equipment, stereos and televisions. The climb up the rusting side ladder to the tower was completed quickly and without thought or fear of the height.

Normally Sparrow would pause once he got up the ladder to the door in order to gaze out on the wasted cityscape. He always felt that while there was a great ugliness present in the world they inhabited, there was also a profound sense of restorative slumber. The world “civilizations” might have toppled under the weight of their own greedy and reckless behavior, but he truly believed the earth itself was lying dormant, healing and waiting for some sign, maybe even someone to inspire her to adorn the globe once more in life eternal. He had to believe in such things otherwise there was nothing left for him and Dove other then rubble and decay. Still, this was not a time for a moment of deep breaths and hopeful dreams. He was frightened and shivering like a hunted rabbit worried about Dove and how she coped with his absence.

When Sparrow opened the door to the tower there was no sign of Dove herself. With a shock and surge of great terror he noticed that the easel was back up and the canvas painting that sat upon it looked to be completed. The tiny bulb of a room the water tower provided for them was filled with a surging glow of every color imaginable all seemingly emitted from the canvas. He fumbled around fighting for the willpower to keep his eyes away from the mesmerizing whirl of sensations in order to search for Dove.

“Sparrow….Here….The Bed….So glad…So glad” Dove gasped, using the minute amount of strength left within her to reach up and caress his hand.

Sparrow’s entire body clenched in horror as he felt Dove’s hand slip into his own. It felt as though he was holding a paper thin bag of bones. He kneeled to cradle her waif thin form, resting his cheek next to her pillow. For some time they lay like this together communicating without words through the locking of their eyes. Dove’s eyes were vast and full of a strangeness Sparrow struggled to identify. Even in her obviously sick and wasted state Dove glowed with an eerie shimmer of potential; her beauty akin to the flowing grace of the sunset filled sky-precious and fleeting. In that moment he knew he couldn’t keep her. Dove was already drifting away, her essence only lingering to gaze the way she was with every grain of her being at him. Dove was smiling as she breathed her last rasping breath.

Yet before Sparrow had time to let a single tear escape something blew like a shockwave filling the tower with a harsh pulsating light so bright he could momentarily see through his own flesh to the curves and contours of his bone. The light continued to surge until all was lost in an endless expanse of white. Sparrow was left alone. Dove’s form disappeared with the rest of his world. Yet in some strange sense it was fitting to him. He wasn’t sure he wanted to be a part of a world without Dove.

“So, why am I still here?” Sparrow pleaded, his hoarse cry rippling off into a chorus of echoes, stretching out to eventually lose itself in the great white. And
as if in answer to his plea, Dove’s painting appeared before him, hovering at eye level. For the first time since Dove had begun her masterpiece Sparrow allowed himself to truly behold the painting without the clouds of worry and fear for her well being to dull his senses. It was a thing of mesmerizing beauty, the detail so intrinsic and the colors so alive he swore he could taste them.

Sparrow began to comprehend the subject matter, it was what the art books would label as a landscape yet it was much more than that, so lucid it felt more to him like a waking dream trapped in rectangular form. In the very middle stood their water tower taken over by a wild spiraling of vine boasting a plethora of ultra violet trumpet flowers. The plot of surrounding land was void of the rusting multitude of rubbish, replaced by a smooth even pack of rich chocolate tinted earth. The horizon stretched on and on, the jagged dilapidated buildings that once made up the skyline were gone and replaced here and there by a lacing of misty ever green trees that parted to reveal the tips of the coast that possessed an ocean glowing emerald and gold in the setting sun.

The stark white emptiness of his surroundings compounded the life and promise within the painting that continued to hover like a dream before him. Furthermore, he could feel the essence of Dove radiating off of the painting like the summer sun. Her spirit held him, caressed him and eased him closer to the work of art.

“It’s all done now, Sparrow. Please look after it, care for it. It’s yours.” The voice of his Dove breathed and exuded the words like the most precious of gems and Sparrow smiled joyfully, suddenly aware that she was waiting for him within. Without hesitation Sparrow leaped into the painting, each brush stroke remaking him whole until he stood once more atop their water tower, gazing into the realness of Dove’s great transformation. He scurried down the ladder eagerly kicking off his worn shoes to plant his feet deep into the warm and supple soil. Bittersweet tears of loss and renewal flowed freely down his astonished features as he saw and felt Dove in every drop of life eternal around and within him. And look! There were his tomatoes, and there carrots, squash, cabbage and more.

Sparrow tore his eyes away from the patchwork of his great garden and spied an assortment of confused yet overjoyed huddles of people dotting the landscape here and there as far as his eyes could see. He understood now. Dove. She had done all this. The world he saw, felt and breathed was an exactment of her masterpiece. Dove’s vision was that something, that someone, the catalyst for the forgiveness and return of Gaia, Mother Earth.

Sparrow’s heart sang with inspiration as he began his trek to the nearest group of fellow survivors. He understood that a lot of work was ahead of them and he was full of motivation, savoring thoughts of community, harmony and the return of man to its sacred role of caretaker to the land. And yet Sparrow couldn’t help but wonder just how many worlds man would burn through before The Great Balance was finally actualized.