Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Art (01/18/07)
TITLE: A Fine Talent
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For as long as she can remember she wanted to be an artist but in spite of her ambition she failed miserably. School counselors advised her to consider journalism. How odd! A blank sheet waiting for words totally terrifies her, while an artist’s canvas brings nothing but joy.
She met Gabriel, at the corner of Yonge and Dundas in September of her 21st year. His dark grey cap was dripping water down onto his nose; his Kodiak boots, much too warm for late summer were stained a muddy brown from the incessant rainfall. In spite of the wetness, her nose picked up the scent of fresh paint and sticky lacquer. A couple of portfolios covered in rubbery leather leaned against a faded brick building with a wide overhang, giving the material a semblance of protection.
She dashed into Starbucks, put coins on the counter and hurried back to the street, placing one steaming cup in Gabriel’s hands. He smiled profusely, baffled but unashamed by her gesture. He even tipped his hat allowing the errant drops to trickle down his nose and dampen his feathered chin.
“Merci Mademoiselle, I am artiste. Too much clouds - Needs sunshine. Soon I hope,” he blustered, staring at the sky. “Sell peintures, many peintures – I invite you – how you say? diner? et du vin. Ce soir, oui?’
“Oh, yes, yes. Oui, Monsieur. Merci!” she blubbered. “Will meet you here at six.”
Time moved quickly, but not too quickly; Christmas, then springtime and finally the exchanging of “I Do’s” beneath the summer sun. Today she is known as Mrs. Gabriel Poulin, busy entrepreneur, connoisseur of fine art. Diligently, she introduces Gabby to all the right people; pleads for exhibits in popular galleries and displays his work.
Sadly, trouble is brewing. Gabriel’s work is not being widely accepted and though baffled, she is not totally surprised. Something is missing. They stand together perusing his portfolio, conscious of his diligence and his immense talent, yet distraught at the feedback he is receiving. He shuffles over to the window, spreading the curtain as though taken with the traffic hurtling by. “Maybe time for real job? Enough damn picture thing. Drive cab; do construction.” She holds him close disturbing the dark curls that cover his forehead. He pulls away, dropping the portfolio, allowing his pictures to scatter aimlessly. With her hands clasped to her face she suddenly hollers: “I’ve got it, I’m sure I’ve got it! Gabriel, your work is good - your technique, your perspective. It’s very professional… but….you won’t like to hear this – everything is bland. It’s clever but it’s bland. I have a good eye, you’ve said so yourself. The word is ‘Soul’, Gabby. Your paintings lack soul!”
“What’s soul to do with my work,” he questions. “Besides, I throw it away – my soul. Before you and me together. I throw it away – a long time back.”
“No, no, you don’t understand. Everyone has a soul. Our soul is the Breath of God. He gives it to each of us before we are born. It is his perfect gift to us. You can’t throw it away even if you wanted to. It is God Himself and when you believe, it influences everything you do, makes everything better, makes everything glow.”
“But I did! I throw away! Time you listen,” he insists grabbing her by the shoulders. “It’s dead, my soul. Mort! Do you hear me? This God of you, he hurt me bad, very bad. It’s all a joke, magique like le cirque, this belief you do.
She can’t believe what she has heard. A man she loves admires respects. A man she married! These thoughts, these words have no place in their lives. Looking at him sadly she will not argue. Peace can only be found through prayer. She drops to her knees, entreating softly, “Please God hold carefully, the words we have spoken to each other and the anguish we feel in our hearts. With your forgiveness and understanding bless us both. Dispel the hardness in our hearts. Direct our steps, our vision. Through my prayer, my example and my voice, enable Gabriel to find his way, the only way - Your way. Amen.
Darkness surrounds them. They slip under the covers and in the quiet of the night hold each other tightly. In the morning a new day will dawn – a day of hope and promise.
Word count 738
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