Talent: A Lesson in Evergreen

I flicked my wrist again, sending a shower of color to the canvas. The edges of the new color swirled with the existing ones, whirl pooling and creating turbulence until well blended. Then I stood back, satisfied with the new shades accenting the picture, waved my hand in a partial U-shaped motion, and watched as the paints dried before my eyes. As a last final touch I zigzagged my finger about one inch above the canvas and created a gleaming gold signature that appeared to be floating.

Smiling, I turned to the girl beside me. She was slightly taller and had short brown hair that curled and twisted around her head in a gravity-defying style. Currently she stood well poised, and her face was slightly solemn.

"What do you think?" I questioned.

The butterfly clips in her hair seemed to flutter as she tilted her head from side to side.

"It's beautiful, just like all the others."

Derilia always liked my paintings; she was my best friend.

Everything was pitch black when I woke up, feeling awful. My head was pounding and dizziness overcame me when I sat up. An abrupt pain started in the center of my head, and got sharper, now feeling as if someone was trying to pull something through my skull. I couldn't help but cry out as the anguishing pain reached its crescendo. But it stopped immediately after. Even so, I didn't feel normal. My eyes felt like they were bulging, and must've been bloodshot; it was also near impossible to think strait. Sleep, sleep; that's what I needed. Everything became foggy, hazy, and I drifted off.

Sunlight tickled my eyelids, pulling me out of the trance called sleep. I put my hand to my forehead, pondering. What had happened last night? Or had it happened at all? I felt perfectly normal now, so I decided that it must've been a dream. Shivering slightly, I crawled out of bed and peeked out of the curtains. It was a radiant day, and all the flowers in the garden were in such full bloom you could almost smell the color. I closed my eyes and tried to picture one of the buds close-up in my mind, but for some reason it wouldn't come. The crisp green of the leaves wouldn't fade into my imagination, the outline of the rich petals stayed absent. Yanking my eyes back open I felt myself start to sweat. What was wrong? After taking a couple deep breaths I convinced myself that it was just because it was early. I'd be fine later.

This was becoming frustrating. I just couldn't do it. Period. No matter how hard I tried the colors wouldn't merge; smooth lines became harsh angles and a preview of the final masterpiece wouldn't grace my mind. Something was terribly wrong, I must be terminally ill, or perhaps I'd been cursed by one of our many spiteful neighbors. Furious, I slammed the still wet paintbrush onto the floor and waltzed out the door. I would get behind this. I must get behind this. Painting was my life, my world, it was, well, me!

As I rushed down the stairs Derilia looked up at me with a glorious smile, "What's wrong Lisell?"

But her smile didn't fade. I on the other hand was frantic, and my head felt light.

"It's…it's just gone! I can't, my hand, it won't paint!"

I was stammering, eyes wide, "And my head, it doesn't…I can't see."

The grin on Derilia's face dimmed slightly and she laid a comforting arm on my shoulders.

"Perhaps you're just sick? You don't look too well…"

I snapped back and began hyperventilating, "I am NOT well! That's the point!"

Wiping a bit of sweat from my forehead I tried to calm down and took a couple of deep breaths. "Okay, maybe you're right…I'll just go lie down for a bit."

Closing my eyes was like murder, because all I saw was blackness. Usually I'd be graced with a flourishing garden, or perhaps a battle between two knights, frozen in the midst of clashing worlds. But the emptiness; it was haunting. I couldn't weave images in my mind anymore; I couldn't picture the swirling colors. It was like my whole imagination had been drained and was now left blank, empty, erased. I draped a wet washcloth over my eyes, but kept them open. They had to stay open.

A faint knock brought me out of a monotonous trance and Derilia walked in, cheery as ever.

"Feeling any better?"

I used my pointer and middle fingers to hold one of my dry eyes open and glared at her.

"Do I look any better?"

She giggled, and it almost sickened me, but I ignored it as she sat on the foot of my bed.

"Well Lisell, you won't get well keeping your eyes wide open like a zombie! Rest some!"

I shook my head, "But I can't see anything."

Again, she laughed, "You can never see anything with your eyes closed, silly!"

This time it was my turn to chuckle, "Only if you look strait ahead. Have you ever looked past your eyelids?"

Derilia gave me a puzzled look and felt my forehead. "That's impossible," She stated plainly.

I shook my head and wagged a finger at her.

"Not true. You dream don't you?" I paused as she nodded, "Well, then you see past your eyelids. Dreams aren't real, but they're possible. The world you see with your eyes closed isn't real either, but it's possible. In fact, dreaming is seeing beyond your eyelids, you just do it without thinking."

Derilia patted my bed and sat up, "Well, you still need some rest. I'll keep that in mind though."

She then walked out and latched the door.

I wasn't feeling any better. If anything I felt worse, since everything I looked at appeared to be exactly what it was. Before, when I stared at the ceiling I could find animals, people, and music in those abstract shapes. Now, all I saw was the ceiling, plain and boring. This I couldn't stand, so I decided to get up and move around, perhaps even try to paint again. I quickly hopped out of bed and out of my room, taking the familiar path to the best area of the whole boarding house: the drawing room. One of the walls was entirely glass, and you could see for miles, past the garden, past the lake, and finally to the beach and ocean beyond. I slowly opened the door and peeked inside, expecting to find it empty. But there, in the center of the room, was Derilia. She made a couple sweeping strokes on the canvas then closed her eyes for a few seconds and tickled the canvas with her brush again. I knew for a fact though that Derilia couldn't paint.

It all grew clear as I stood there watching the picture develop; my outrage was growing just as quick. But I couldn't take it any longer.

Flinging the door open I yelled, "Derilia! How could you?"

The sudden noise caused her to drop the brush and stare back, stunned.

"I, I don't know what you mean!" She stuttered and moved away from me.

Exasperated I threw my hands up, "Excuse me? You STOLE my talent! You do know that that's a crime, don't you? I would've been happy to trade for a day if you would've only asked, but stealing? Robbing me?"

Derilia held her hands up in defense and replied, "I swear I didn't mean to do it!"

This calmed me down a bit; I'd heard that if you wanted something badly enough it was possible to obtain it subconsciously, without even trying.

Exhaling I stated, "I believe you. Let's just get it back to the rightful owner, I don't know how much longer I'll survive with this empty space."

Derilia took off the splattered painting apron and rushed to the door, "I'll get the spell book and be right back!"

It was wonderful, I closed my eyes and there were the flowers, the knights, everything was back. Dipping a brush in dark black paint I began drawing what I saw, starting with the dark knight. My strokes came smoothly again, without any effort or thought, and it looked perfect. Glancing over my right shoulder I saw Derilia scribbling on a piece of paper. She hadn't meant to do it; I know that now for sure. I suppose she just wanted to be able to paint so badly she wove an accidental spell in her sleep that stole mine. I smiled and vowed to help her once I got done with this painting, it would be fun to have someone to paint with, rather than someone to just look over your shoulder and admire.

The sun set slowly that day, and everything in the world seemed at peace. Two canvases sat side-by-side it the empty drawing room; one portraying a heated battle of two warriors in the midst of lush greenery, the other a simple purple flower, slightly lopsided, but distinguishable. Best friends were reunited, and the simple mistake that had thrown the friendship off was now in the past. The dark green of envy that had caused the robbery in the first place was now fading to a tone of admiration. No one would ever know that a certain book had spent the night in the thief's room.