Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Sad (07/26/07)
TITLE: Watercolour Tears
By Ann Grover
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Swishing the brush in the water cup, Eleanor contemplated what to paint next. The fence? She blended white with grey and stroked, until pickets stood in a row at the front edge of the riotously coloured garden. She retouched the shutters of the upper windows of the house, carefully shadowing the louvered slats. A bedroom here, she thought, and this one shall be the nursery.
A smile settled on her lips, and she breathed in deeply as she leaned back. She hummed a soft tune, a lullaby maybe, then fell silent.
The baby lived only a few days. A heart problem, the doctor said. He didn’t suffer. You’re young. You’ll have another child. The young couple knew that, but it didn’t comfort their aching hearts or fill their empty arms.
Eleanor leaned forward, frowning, and quickly painted over the window, filling it in with a drawn blind. The window appeared smudged, dirty. Eleanor looked away for a time, shedding silent tears, and while waiting for them to dry, added a small tree to the corner of the yard.
In the background, she added high clouds in a perfect, blue sky being swept along by a light wind. With long, curling strokes, she added vines to the corner of the house. A touch of whimsey.
”A girl, Eleanor! Look at her! A princess. Why are you crying? Ah, love, it’s all right, she’s perfect. Everything’ll be okay.” And it was. The girl was a princess, all right. Demanding and spoiled and perfect. Ever so perfect.
Eleanor loaded her brush with brown paint and began to paint in the trunk of a tree behind the small tree. Before long, she had large limbed oak, complete with swing beneath its leafy bower.
”Mom, can you push?” Then the children were grown. The swing was silent and still.
Loading the brush with brilliant vermillion and a touch of fuschia, Eleanor dabbed roses around an arbour at the front gate. Glorious Ramblers they were. Then she twined leaves and stems around the support. She painted in hydrangeas, daisies, geraniums, petunias, and impatiens.
The bride and groom had planned an outdoor wedding. “Mom, please could you have roses around the gate? And the front garden in full bloom? With all our favourites?” And she’d had done her best to make sure the outdoor garden wedding was everything her little girl dreamed it would be.
Eleanor pushed a greying tendril of hair from her eyes. She leaned back, and with a loose hand, sketched in a rocker on the front porch of the house. Then, squinting, she sat forward. Was the paint on the side of the house peeling?
”Let’s sit on the porch for a while, George. The nights are beginning to draw in quickly. Won’t be too many more evenings like this. Isn’t it lovely? George? George?”
Eleanor’s hand trembled a little as she painted a black wreath on the door. She painted black ribbons around the posts on each side of the steps. A tear slid down each of Eleanor’s deeply lined cheeks.
Eleanor’s shoulder hurt and she rested for a moment. She closed her eyes and imagined what to add to her painting next. Maybe a bird? Or a butterfly? She slept for a bit.
And the paintbrush dropped from her gnarled fingers.
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