Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)
TITLE: Portrait of Life
By Tammy Johnson
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Grabbing a clean smock and a diet soda, she rushed to her studio at the back of her tiny house. Sunlight poured in through the windows on three walls. Pungent smells of old paint and canvas greeted her as she rummaged through her paints finding just what she needed.
With paintbrush in her mouth and fresh paint on her pallet she fixed her gaze on the blank canvas.
“O.K., Lord, what do you have for me?” She creased her brow and grabbed her paintbrush. Experienced hands mixed a couple of colors until they looked just right. A deep breath filled her chest as the familiar feeling of anticipation and fear washed over her. She placed the first stroke of color on the canvas. Another stroke quickly added to the last and before long she settled into a comforting rhythm.
Her mind wandered as she created. Images of her childhood filled her memory. Happy moments of hiding between fresh laundered sheets hanging on the clothesline, dressing her baby dolls and giving them a bath on Saturday nights. She could almost smell the sweet cinnamon rolls baking every Sunday morning.
Her mind drifted to other parts of her childhood and a shadow crossed over her face. Thoughts of sadness and confusion came back to her as she remembered the baby brother that never came home from the hospital. It was years before she understood what, “stillborn” meant.
Deft fingers continued to fly across the canvas. Colors blended and forms took shape.
With a flinch her mind drifted to a memory hidden deep inside. Years of defenses put in place to protect her slowly started to peel away. Terror and pain flashed back as she remembered the raging flames. Angry yellow and red fingers were all around her, sucking her very breath from her. Screams void of time or space filled her head. She briefly recalled the strong arms of the fireman wrapping around her just before blackness overcame her.
Out of habit her hand went to her face touching the uneven ridges of flesh stretched across her jaw. Her hand drifted down over the same ridges on her neck. Hidden bitterness welled up inside her at the thought of this ghastly reward for hours of surgery and months of pain.
She returned her hand to the pallet and blended a new set of colors. With determination she continued to paint, recalling memories with every stroke.
“Peter.” The name came so easily to her lips, breaking the silence. Tears blurred her vision as she remembered their first kiss and her startled reaction when his hand reached her scar. Why had she never been able to accept his words of love and affirmation? Why couldn’t she believe him when he told her that he didn’t see those hideous scars anymore?
He had wanted children, but the thought of having her own child touching her face and recoiling in disgust was too much for her. She had returned the ring and sold her beautiful dress at the local consignment shop.
With a sigh, Rose paused and stood back to look at her painting. She gazed into the deep purples, light lavenders, yellows, and deep dark red. All these colors blended together in breathtaking beauty to create this delicate flower.
Then realization washed over her and she was struck with awe.
She had pleaded with God to remove her scars. Time and time again she had wept for healing. Today’s prayers had been no different. Only this time God had placed the desire within her to paint. He had placed the colors and lines in her mind to show her what he saw.
An orchid, the floral symbol for beauty.
She saw how each memory of her life was represented in that flower. Happy memories reflected in the light yellows and lavenders. Dark purples mirrored her sadness. The deep red veins running down into the middle of the flower showed the intrusion of the fire and the marks left behind. All these colors blended in perfect harmony to create a whole.
She caressed her scars knowing healing had come at last. Even with the scars, she was now whole and complete. Peace settled into her soul as she saw her true beauty for the first time.
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