I have spent half of my entire life trying to become an artist. I spend days upon days perfecting a picture that eventually ends up in the trash. I wish to change my thinking, but I fear that it is too late. It is already day 234 of trying to draw the perfect picture. I keep failing and failing, and I am starting to hate myself for it. But soon, that all changes . . .

I am applying the orange paint to my canvas when he knocks, causing me to leave a streak across my canvas. I groan, throwing down my paintbrush angrily. I look at the clock. It's 2:34 a.m., and someone is knocking on my door. I walk over to the door cautiously, unsure of what to do. With shaky hands, I twist the doorknob, throwing the door open.

A small boy stands in front of me, shivering from the cold. His clothes are tattered and his face is smeared with mud. He has a gentle smile on his face, revealing perfect white teeth. This confuses me, but I dismiss it. I grunt, folding my arms.

"What do you want you, little runt?" I ask, my fingers growing numb. He clears his throat, taking off his cap. He brings his cap to his chest, looking up at me as if I’m king.

"I was just wondering if I could use your telephone. Would you mind that?" He asks, his voice frail and almost fragile sounding. But I don’t care. I slam the door in his face, leaving him stunned. The audacity of this little boy! I was just about to finish my masterpiece painting when this stupid little boy came and ruined it! I snatch the canvas and throw it to the ground. The canvas snaps in half, paint smearing the ground.

The boy knocks again. I stomp over to the door and swing the door open. The boy stares at me, his ember eyes penetrating my soul. 

"Please, sir! It's urgent!" He says, stepping forward. I slam the door once again, trudging over to my bedroom. I slam the door to my bedroom, sitting down on my bed. I hear the little boy continuing to knock on the door, yelling for my help. After ten minutes of this rubbish, it suddenly stops. I listen to hear if the boy is still at the door, but I don't hear anything. I get out of bed and walk out of the bedroom. The front door is wide open, cold air rushing in. The small boy is sitting beside the broken canvas, his gaze on me.

"Why did you break this?" He asks, standing up. I stomp over to him, fury washing over me. I grab his shirt.

"You are breaking an entering!" I yell at his face, anger washing over me.

"I asked you a question. Why did break that canvas? It had a brilliantly drawn picture! Why did you break it?" He repeats, grabbing my arm with small, frail hands. I glare at him, my anger seething.

"Because it's not good enough!" I shout, tears springing from my eyes. "Because I'm not good enough!" I let go of his shirt and he falls to the ground. I kneel down, tears streaming down my face. I sob quietly, my face buried in my hands. He stares at me, reaching out his hand.

"Now why would you think that?" He asks gently, placing his small hand on my shoulder.

"Because! Do you see that orange streak across the painting? You did that! It was almost perfect, and you ruined it!" I shout as a puddle of tears forms beneath me. He sits beside me, his gaze focused on the broken canvas.

"I understand the need for perfection, but something my mum taught me was that it doesn't need to be perfect. You shouldn't create stuff just for the liking of everyone else. You don't just want everyone else to love you. You should also be able to love yourself," he says quietly, standing up. He picks up the broken in half canvas and comes back over.

"Look." He says, shoving the canvas into my hands. I put the two halves of the canvas together and smile.

"The streak of orange, it . . . it . . ." I try to say, tears stained on my face.

"It looks brilliant, doesn't it?" He says, pointing to the streak of orange.

A lone tree stands in front of a cobblestone wall. The streak of orange looks like leaves for the tree, a brilliant orange. I pick up my paintbrush and paint red, gold, yellow, and even more orange. The small boy watches in delight, grinning.

In the end, a spectacularly colored tree stares back at me, the colors making the leaves look like they are actually waving in the wind. I smile, tears beginning to fall down my face again. I turn around to thank the small boy, but he is gone. In the corner of the room, the telly is on. I walk over to it. On the television screen is a picture of the small boy. The headline says:

"Families claim to have had an angel come to their door and help them. Is it true?"

I make an audible gasp, stumbling backward. After recovering from my shock, I smile. I look up to the heavens above.

"Thank you," I mutter, overcome with joy.

That next year, I end up fixing the canvas. I take it to an art show and end up winning first place. I am given 250,000 thousand dollars for winning. I give half of the money to my daughter in California, keeping the other for savings. Even after winning that money, I didn't stop painting. I painted hundreds and hundreds of paintings, all of which are sold. And even though I am rich now, I know that none of this would've happened if not for the little boy. So each and every night, I thank the small boy, even if he isn't here.

The end.

November 25, 2022 20:53

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22:27 Dec 08, 2022

You leave the reader wanting more, just like the child who appears in the story. That's clever. There is a lot of anger within a very short piece, and most of the artists I know have an angry streak due to living in a state of constant discontent. I find writing dialogue to be challenging, but you did it simply and it works.


Isaac Walker
03:11 Dec 12, 2022

Thank you so much for the encouragement! I try to put a lot of meaning into my work, and I am glad to hear you like it. Again, thank you so much!


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Hilary R. Glick
03:09 Dec 04, 2022

An artist! Of course! What a perfect subject for this prompt! You did a fantastic job capturing the urgency and passion of perfecting a piece. I also appreciate the art of embracing “happy accidents” and making it work beyond the perfectionism of it!


Isaac Walker
03:16 Dec 12, 2022

Thank you so much! I am glad to hear you liked my story! I tried to put as much meaning and feelings into this short story because I wanted it to actually touch the hearts of the readers. Thank you again!


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RBE | Illustration — We made a writing app for you | 2023-02

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