34 comments

Aug 11, 2020

Creative Nonfiction

I painted my Muse. Now I have to destroy it!

I cannot fathom the unruly hour which made me do this hideous act. I should have been incapacitated the very second this unworthy thought struck my mind. But my capriciousness led me to it.


Fifteen years ago, I left him intentionally at the Art Gallery. He was watching Van Gogh's Starry Night with an air of wistfulness. And I slowly traced my way outside the Gallery and into the cold street. When I had distanced myself from god knows what, I stopped and turned around. I saw him walking the street, eyes searching every other stranger's face, and then suddenly resting on mine. The desperation of his eyes settled into a calm merriness. He ran towards me, touched my face, pressed my shoulders, and looked at me from head to toe. Finally, when he was sure what he beheld was his brother, he surrounded his profligate arms around my weary heart just like a wreath and then smiled foolishly.



Then suddenly, using his face to express his lack of speech he showed "Why did you leave me alone? Don't you love me? Do you hate me?"

That face, the expression, the eyes which were still in a state of pensive did something to me. I felt myself feeling weak and all the glories I had gained as a painter seemed worthless. I realised, I knew nothing and I had to start all over again. I wondered how just a gaze could unclothe my emotions so easily. I had never felt so defenceless in my life. From that very moment, he became my Muse.


I picked up my pen and settled down at my desk. I had to write him an apology, I wanted him to know how much he means to me. And that I didn't intend to hurt him this time in any way. 


Dear John


Are you listening?

I see in you, the memories of being young

Like a fireproof warehouse storing innocence.


I see in you, the sunset marked skyline

Creating a boundary of ending,

And also a reminiscence of a beginning;


Are you listening?

Your presence took me

And brittled me down into something beautiful.

Your existence for me is beyond physicality

That I don't have to remember you because I'll never forget you;


Are you listening?

You are the streetlight that flickers across my street,

And also the lighthouse of my ocean


I don't see rainbows anymore

But when I see you

I end up looking at the sky

And always find a rainbow thick shimmer;


Are you listening?

You are that longing for an unknown place

Like a boat sailing me through a strange land

Making the destination, a home!

How many such homes have you built me?


Are you even listening?

You never asked me what is it that I feel

But I think you know

Sometimes it's 

Like waiting to be burnt

Like choosing the same book, again and again, not wanting to discover something new

Like dead lilies on a driveway

Waiting to be picked up by a kid and kept in a book.



Just when I finished writing I knew what I had to do, to amend this situation. I asked my dear friend Mathew to bring back the painting from the exhibition as early as he could.

After a while, I heard a knock. I opened the door, Mathew stood there with the painting. He gave me a bewildered look.


"Why on earth did you send this to an exhibition if you didn't want to show it to the world?" he asked.

"It was a mistake, a horrible mistake," I said.

"I don't understand why it's a mistake!"

"Don't you understand, he is my Muse!"

"So what he is your Muse?" he asked, shrugging his shoulders. "How does it change anything?"

"Just give me the painting," I said, impatiently.


And Matthew came inside and sat at my desk.


"You wrote him a letter?" he asked, trying to suppress his astonishment.

"Yes indeed, I wanted him to know"

"What is wrong with you, HE IS DEAD!" he said, looking uneasily at me.


I picked up a wet cloth and rubbed it on the painting, till it was destroyed. 


"Not anymore."


"He has been dead for five years now. What madness has taken over you?" He asked, looking at the now destroyed painting.


"I can always feel his presence. I cannot preserve him in a physical state, it would imply that I need something beyond my heart to store him. I ought to leave him alone, he is too pure to be contained" I replied, with a heavy sigh.


"Doesn't that demolish the role of an artist?"


"No, it doesn't, because I hated every second I spent on this painting"


"Then why didn't you stop?"


"Because I wanted to see the end, I wanted to see how much I remembered him. And when I started drawing I could picture him as he was— the little mole on his forehead, his kind blue eyes, his bushy eyebrows. I could draw everything. But then when I finished, what I saw was a perfect imitation, but what I couldn't see was reality. It was far removed from reality, that I almost felt as an impersonator. And it was unbearable. I had to destroy the painting to protect him, to protect the raw him."


"So it is about how you feel, it has nothing to do with doing him justice?" he asked.


"No, it's only about him. Don't you understand? He is my Muse. He exists, that's why I can create art. I cannot make him an art by painting him, he is already one."


I went inside, after offering Mathew my deepest gratitude for bringing the painting back. Then I sat down on my hard bed and slowly closed my eyes. Splinters of imagination started forming a perfect deportment inside my head. My muse was back, and I knew I had to start painting. 







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34 comments

Rayhan Hidayat
13:37 Aug 13, 2020

This was beautiful! Felt like a cross between a short story and a poem, and the result is this gem. The whole premise of a troubled painter reclaiming his art is such a fresh take on the prompt, so good job on that 👍🏽 I will say that the dialogue feels too flowery and unrealistic at times, but with the style you’re going for it works. Just needs a proofread for grammar, but good stuff overall! 😊

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Gopika Ashokan
13:02 Aug 16, 2020

Thank you so much! Ya, I think I tend to make my dialogues poetic. But then I also make sure that the characters and settings match them. So as you said I think it works. Again thanks for your feedback!

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Yolanda Wu
08:39 Aug 21, 2020

Wow, this story grabbed me at the first line. The voice of the character and the desperation was all captured so, so well. I felt myself immersing myself deeper and deeper into the story, probably because the language you used is just amazing. I was so intrigued by the character and desperately wanted to know more. And that ending is just perfect. Amazing work!

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Gopika Ashokan
13:48 Aug 21, 2020

Aaah, thank you so much for your kind words. I am really glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!

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D. Jaymz
04:16 Aug 21, 2020

A great story. You captured the eccentricity of an artist in a rational way. Very creative 👏

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Gopika Ashokan
05:08 Aug 22, 2020

Thank you so much !

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D. Jaymz
05:09 Aug 22, 2020

You're welcome 😊

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Keerththan 😀
04:14 Aug 20, 2020

Wonderful story. The dialogues were great. The story is fit to the prompt. Loved it. Keep writing... Would you mind reading my new story "Secrets don't remain buried?"

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Gopika Ashokan
11:51 Aug 20, 2020

Thanks for reading! Sure I'd love to!

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Tariq Saeed
14:44 Aug 19, 2020

Gopica,good.

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Gopika Ashokan
11:52 Aug 20, 2020

Thanks!

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Brittany Gillen
13:14 Aug 18, 2020

Gopika - Thank you for sharing your story. It was a very original response to the prompt. I admit that I felt a bit like Matthew, confused by why the artist would destroy a painting of someone he loved so much, but I think that just means you captured his desperate grief and struggle so well. My feedback would be to be careful with too many vocabulary words. 😉 It slows down the momentum of the story if a reader doesn’t know a particular word. It does match the poetic nature of your character, so I agree that it fits his voice, but at times I...

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Gopika Ashokan
12:00 Aug 20, 2020

Hey ! Thanks for the feedback. I totally understand what you mean and apologies for any confusion created. I think profligate also has a meaning - generous, that's why I used it. But yes I understand how it could be confusing, and I'll keep this in mind. Thanks again!

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Adhi Das
17:00 Aug 15, 2020

Really I feel after reading your story that the muse has indeed blessed you to paint with words so nicely to allure the attention of readers👍

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Gopika Ashokan
13:03 Aug 16, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind words!

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Pamela Abwao
01:25 Aug 14, 2020

A sweet story.I like your command in English

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Gopika Ashokan
13:03 Aug 16, 2020

Thanks!

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Chrissy Lemon
23:14 Aug 13, 2020

This is such a great story! Definitely deserves to win. I really enjoyed it, keep up the great work. 😃

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Gopika Ashokan
13:04 Aug 16, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind words!

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Charles Stucker
10:37 Aug 13, 2020

You did an excellent job here. Everything works together, the pacing,the scenes, the dialogue. You present a tortured artist reclaiming their inspiration in a manner which is consistent with the common perception of artists and their muses.

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Gopika Ashokan
13:04 Aug 16, 2020

Thanks for the feedback!

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Grace M'mbone
09:05 Aug 13, 2020

Your creativity is very pleasant. Your plot very interesting. I like what you did here. I couldn't make out any grammatical error. Beautiful. Very beautiful in fact. It's like a story I would read late into the night. It would be a real honour to me if you took a look at even one of my stories. Wow.

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Gopika Ashokan
13:05 Aug 16, 2020

Thank you so much! Sure, I'd love to check out your stories.

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Shreya S
07:02 Aug 13, 2020

That was so, so beautiful- the letter he wrote to his dead brother, the whole concept of the Muse, his art work, - absolutely beautiful. I love how you made the prompt into this amazing work. I enjoyed reading this!

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Gopika Ashokan
08:37 Aug 13, 2020

I am really glad you enjoyed it. Thanks you so much!

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Kristin Neubauer
16:17 Aug 12, 2020

Such an interesting story - it felt very existential to me. There was so much to it on so many levels. I am going to have to read it again and really think about it. I love how you bring such philosophical thinking into your work.

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Gopika Ashokan
09:04 Aug 13, 2020

You are too kind :) I'm glad you liked it, I did think if this philosophical thinking is a little bit overpowering in this story, but I loved writing it and it also helped give the characters more depth. Thank you so much!

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Deborah Angevin
11:47 Aug 21, 2020

The inclusion of the poem adds so much more to the story. I love this! P.S: would you mind checking out my recent submission, "Yellow Light?" Thank you :D

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Gopika Ashokan
13:47 Aug 21, 2020

Thank you so much! Sure, I'd love to!

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Maya W.
14:50 Aug 19, 2020

Really nice story! I liked how you tied the letter in with the rest of the story. Whenever I do that, it completely fails, lol. If you can, would you check out my stories here? Thanks!

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Gopika Ashokan
11:52 Aug 20, 2020

Thank you so much for your kind words. Sure, I'd love to!

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Maya W.
11:53 Aug 20, 2020

Thank you!

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I only have one thing to say about this story THIS 👏 WAS 👏 SOOOOOO 👏 GOOD! ~Aerin P. S. Would you mind checking out one or two of my stories? Thanks!

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Gopika Ashokan
19:01 Aug 11, 2020

Thank you so much for reading! Sure, I would love to.

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