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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Flowers (10/03/05)

TITLE: Portrait of Life
By Tammy Johnson


“In Jesus’ name, amen.” Rose closed her prayer time as usual, but sensed this was no usual time. An urge so strong it almost made her shake came over her. She knew she had to paint.

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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This article has been read 1183 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Anita Neuman10/10/05
A stunningly beautiful depiction of healing. WELL DONE!
Karen Treharne10/10/05
Beautifully written story. A story of pain and healing painted by a true artist.
Brandi Roberts10/11/05
Brilliant. An out-of-the-box effort if I've ever seen one. Very touching. Thank you for sharing!
Karen Ward10/11/05
I really liked the urgency of her desire to paint, and the way you kept that up even through her memories, all of which you then tied in to the painting at the end. No loose ends, every word was important. Well done.
:) Karen
Beth Muehlhausen10/11/05
A creative, healing work from the Creator and Healer Himself!
Alexandra Wilkin10/13/05
This touched me in ways I could not possibly express here. Beautiful. God bless you.
Jan Ackerson 10/13/05
Oh, I just love this!!!
Garnet Miller 10/13/05
Paul asked God 3 times to remove the thorn in his flesh. God replied, "My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Cor. 12:8-9) This painter is a perfect example of this.
Julianne Jones10/14/05
Incredible. You have a gift for reaching out and touching the reader's soul. Thank you.
Suzanne R10/15/05
Beautiful - you've painted a breathtaking portrait yourself with your words.
Val Clark10/15/05
Yes! For me the truly creative act is linked to deep revelations and healing. Love the way her name was Rose and so I went through the story content that her name was the way you linked the story to the theme and then the surprise orchid and all that meant at the end.
Cassie Memmer10/15/05
Much talent here! I want more! Make Rose into a novel. It's a book I want to own!
Linda Watson Owen10/15/05
How skillfully you took me into Rose's memories! I could almost feel her brush in my hand as you wove the story!
Debbie Sickler10/15/05
This was amazing. Easily one of my favorites I've read here at FW. You wrote this beautifully and I loved how you had create the self portrait without even realizing it till the end. I loved how you tied each memory to a shade of the colors. Great job!!! Well done!!!
terri tiffany10/16/05
I loved how you explored her feelings with such depth!
Amy Michelle Wiley 10/16/05
I love the journey of memories. Thank you for the picture. :-)
Amy Verlennich10/17/05
This is a great story, Tammy! I agree with the other comments... I especially loved how you tied in the colors to her life at the end! Great job! Blessings, Amy