Content warning: A few suicidal thoughts of the characters are inserted.
*knock at the door*
“What is it now Skye?” I asked, my voice thundered with despair yet anger.
Accompanied by the creaking sound of the doorknob, Skye entered. Her long purple-dyed hair was attached in a braid from the top of her head to the tip of her back. Her bronze skin was covered with a creased white shirt and a champagne pink pencil skirt. The shades of her leather boots dissolved with the spilt colours of the mucky floor. Her eyeballs danced from left to right in her sockets, as if scrutinizing the whole view. Palette knives, brushes, paints, oil pastels, turpentine, Conte crayons and scrappy canvases were scattered all over the room, an ideal place where a great artist would live. Splotches of dry fabric paints and dark colours melted into the rug, making it hard to guess the rug’s original colour. Before me, A sleeping canvas was resting on the canvas holder, displaying a rough sketch of nymph feeding grains to a hungry deer, while she was captured in chains. Her eyes reflected sorrow while blood cooped from every cut in her body. Her mouth was masked with an angry scowl while her left hand held a flute.
“Uh- Kaisley? I think I will just come back in a minute.” Skye said and twisted her legs back towards the door.
“No. Wait. What is it?” I felt my voice cut through the icy air.
Her head turned around nervously while an adam’s apple surfaced her throat. Her twitching lips provoked an unpleasant feeling in my gut.
“What is it, Skye?” I repeated myself, this time rather in a more stern voice.
Her voice felt caught in her throat when she finally said “Uh-I just wanted to give you..uhm this pen. Yeah this pen. You dropped it by the dining table.” handing me a sleek black Cardin Pierre.
But I knew better than that.
“I know you came for something else Skye. Now, are you gonna tell me?” I asked, straightening my back up. I read somewhere it helps you look more powerful and likely make others tell the truth.
“The painting you set on display got ditched by every single buyer” She finally blurted out in one breathe.
I felt the world in front of me fade away. Bits of emotions rolled in outside of me. It felt as if my insides had been frozen and then microwaved and I was drowning in eternal pain. Skye’s words just bounced back off my eardrums, no, I was not that strong to let it absorb inside my sensors. At that moment I just wanted to find a key to all my problems and run away. Far away where no one could find me. If only I could. Suddenly my hands started shivering, my limbs went weak and I had to hold my chair’s hand rest for support.
“Kaisley! Are you okay?” Skye’s voice just seemed to echo around me.
I pierced my lips hard, not to let those ugly tears trickle but my heartfelt too heavy to hold them.
A glass of water was good enough to bring me back to my senses but I could not speak. My voice felt drowned out in the thunder. I stared listlessly at the rough sketch I had drawn maybe the millionth time. Would it end up in the same fate? Is this labour of mine earning any worth? If the best piece I had ever created was being rejected by every person, what will this do?
I felt a warm hand on my shoulder. Skye’s faded smile had now reappeared “I believe in you.” A sweet voice tripped down her tongue.
I placed my trembling fingers on my lap and closed my eyes, gathering the shattered pieces, giving them a shape of broken wings and trying to stand on my feet but why am I crashing again and again? These wings, also seem to give up from these countless failures to get out of this burning cage. I got up from my chair. “Skye, can you do me a favour? Burndown this whole room.” My sore voice broke the floating thoughts in my mind. Before Skye could argue, I was out of the room.
As I pressed my cold finger against the elevator button, I found an old man’s wobbly knees standing weakly against his stick in the elevator.
“Hello, Kaisley! Long time no see” Mr Ross said, singing it with a weird rhyme.
“Hello” I managed to keep the cold underneath my skin, shovelling it with a delicate smile.
As soon as the door stuck open, I ran out of the congested cubicle. Out in the streets, I let those long-awaited tears drop. My voice disguised as a stronger sob. With my head bowed down, I could still feel the stares of people. All of a sudden, a thought occurred to me, which blended away with the others just as fast as it came. I could feel vulnerable today but jumping off the bridge would be the worst idea ever. I convinced myself.
Suddenly, the hair on my arms prickled. I could sense a shadow amidst the scattered crowd- not mine. Someone had been following me for a long time. I had no courage to look back, but after a few minutes of the increased heartbeat, I let my instincts take control. When I turned back, I was struck dumb. Before me stood a young man, probably in his twenties, his salt and pepper hair worth winning a queue of pretty girls. He wore ripped black jeans and a white silk paisley shirt, with its sleeves rolled up, showing off his muscles. His amber eyes were full of awe and confidence. He had a sprinkle of freckles on his face which reminded me of constellations.
“Wh- Why are you following me?” I asked, trying to be grim but my stuffy nose added the funny element.
“I didn't mean to. I just wanted to talk.” His voice felt as if each vowel sprouted a musical note.
“What?” I snapped back just when a tear trickled down
“Why are you crying?” The man knitted his brows.
“None of your business.”
“Well, then let me share my business with you.” He said and started walking, with my involuntary steps following him. I don’t know why but suddenly I felt interested in this out-of-the-blue gentleman.
“First of all, my name is Niklaus.”
“Niklaus,” I repeated with a frown.
“You know my father was a very rich businessman. Me, my mother, my brother and my father, all lived a very contented life. We lived on the southern beaches of Maldives so my childhood pretty much befriended the ocean. I felt so blessed to get such a beautiful life until one day when my father’s factory was burnt down in flames by an intruder. His bank account got corrupted too, making out a little rich family begging for its life. We tried filing a police case to catch the backstabber but they were no help. That day I learnt something really important. No money means no respect in society. The ones who first drenched us in sugar words were now kicking on our faces. We sold our huge mansion intending to get some money and started living in a low maintenance house. A week later, my mother had a heart attack. All the money we had been saving got used up for her medication. Unfortunately, she did not survive.”
I just stood stunned as he narrated his whole story. “What! Oh my god! I am so sorry. You must be devastated.” I said. My tears had now completely dried up leaving a thin sticky trail on my cheeks.
“We were. Two days after that, our father passed away due to too much mental stress and tension leaving me and my brother alone on some crumbs of bread.” He continued.
I felt so sad, I pulled Niklaus in a tight hug. “I bet you felt like committing suicide,” I said.
He shot me a dangerous look. “Never” His voice seemed to lose the sweetness and took the shape of a bitter flood. “Sorry,” He said, calming himself down and continuing “No. Indeed we kept fumbling in the dark, but I knew that there is a golden door waiting out there if all the doors are closed. We just have to be patient and find it. If we do, we land on the perfect road, but we will be fettered in the dark forever if we don't. Soon, my brother and I started to work in a small part-time restaurant. I always knew I had that magic in my hands. And indeed in that also, I fought a lot of battles. Sometimes my salary was slacked off, I slept a lot of nights with an empty stomach but you don’t expect trials to be easy, do you? And I did not let those trials shake my faith. I kept working hard and look at me now! I am the chef of a five-star hotel.”
His words seemed to pierce my heart into two. What was I doing?
THWACK! A sudden loud noise heavied the air. I turned to my left and just saw a couple of kids playing with their basketball. As I turned back to Niklaus, he wasn’t there. Puff! in thin air. I tried yelling his name, but he was not around. My nerves started jumping. Was it all in my head? No, that can’t me, but where did he go? Whoever he was, he just taught me a lesson I won’t ever forget. He stopped me from making the biggest mistake in my life. Now, I know what to do.
I rushed back to my apartment, but this time, not with tears but a broad smile. I found Skye standing in front of the open door.
“Who was he?” She asked, raising her left eyebrow curiously.
“Who was who?”
“The one you were walking with.”
Her words made my smile shine even brighter.
“He… was an Angel from heaven,” I replied but quickly changed the topic. “You did not burn the art room, did you?”
Skye shrugged. “The ashes are waiting for you.”
My heart sank in my stomach. NO! I ran towards the art room and flung the door open.
Stacks of paints and brushes were neatly piled. All the incomplete canvases were beautifully aligned in the left corner. The pastels, crayons and pencil shades were all kept in an aqua blue box. The multi-coloured rug had now been replaced with a red vacuumed rug.
I turned and hugged Skye tightly, planting a small kiss on her cheek.
I sat down on my chair, took a deep sigh, held the paintbrush pinched between my fingers and started painting.
It has been a month past the Niklaus incident. His hair, his smile and his talks had been carved in my memory, acquiring a special place in my heart. Right now, I was standing in a small art museum, admiring the painting I had made. It was a colourful canvas depicting an angel showering his blessings on a mortal. It had sold for twenty million dollars but that was not the seed of my happiness, it was that angel I got from heaven.