Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: GET COLD FEET (10/12/17)
- TITLE: The Artist
By Leola Ogle
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“You’ve come a long way, Davey-boy.” My gaze drifts to a picture on the wall – a reminder of my humble beginning.
I sigh, overwhelmed with nostalgia. Perhaps aging does that. I glance at the picture again. I’m standing with Barry and Mike in front of our beach apartment in San Diego. A hanging sign says “Beach Bums’ Studio.”
I met Barry and Mike when we were students at Berkley. We spent hours discussing and debating everything imaginable. We thumbed our noses, left school, rented an apartment and turned the living room into our studio. I was the artist, Barry, the musician and Mike did both – strum a guitar and sing, or do landscape drawings.
We spent time at the beach trying to earn a few dollars and make a living. Barry sang and played his guitar. People threw coins and dollars into his guitar case. Mike would do the same, or set up an easel, sell a picture or two. My specialty was painting or drawing people. I did serious portraits or caricatures. Out of us three, I brought in the most money. Tourists were crazy about art of themselves.
With my reminiscing came a jolting, bittersweet memory. Her name was Jaz. With the memory came a longing for her – that beautiful, free-spirited girl. Jaz came one day to our apartment studio that I used for doing portraits in oil. She held a slip of paper, one of the many slips I put on bulletin boards around the city.
“I’m looking for David.” Her voice was like a whispered song. “This paper says Portraits by David, capturing beauty on canvas.”
I was tongue-tied, awestruck. “I’m David,” I managed to stammer.
She tilted her head and her long, blue-black hair floated softly around her face. “I want a portrait of my baby. My parents have money. My dad will pay.”
A daddy’s girl? Somehow she didn’t come across as that. “Okay, when do you want to start?”
She smiled, making my stomach flip-flop. “Tomorrow, if that’s okay. It says you charge a hundred dollars. If it turns out well, my dad will pay two hundred dollars.”
“Deal.” I gushed, feeling like a school boy with a crush.
Before she left, I found out her name was Jaz. “Jaz, short for my middle name, Jasmine.” She softly giggled.
“It’s a beautiful name.” I knew I was gawking like an awkward teenager. I had cold feet just being in the room with her. I shifted and tried to appear professional. “And will your husband, uh, or boyfriend be coming with you?”
She sighed. “There’s only me and my baby girl.”
No husband or boyfriend. Good!
“I was a wild-child living in a commune, but went home after Rose was born. I found Jesus. And I love being a mother. My parents have been terrific with me and Rose.” She smiled and her eyes lit up. “I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
She said she’d be there early the next morning. “I want you to capture Rose’s beauty on canvas.”
“Shouldn’t be a problem if she looks like you.”
Jaz twirled a lock of hair. “Um,” she murmured.
“I’m in love,” I later told my roommates.
When Jaz arrived the next morning, I tried to hide my surprise. I knew nothing about babies, but Rose certainly wasn’t cute. I wondered what Jaz considered Rose’s beauty. I swallowed, then looked at Jaz’s face. What I saw took my breath away. It was a mother’s look of love and adoration for her child. In that moment I knew I would give the world for Jaz to adore me. I looked at Rose through Jaz’s eyes. The baby was adorable.
When Rose grinned and reached for me, my heart melted. “She’s normally shy. She likes you.” Jaz gave me an approving look.
Oh, those memories of Jaz and Rose – so very long ago. The days it took to paint Rose, I never got the courage to ask Jaz out. “Cold-footed wimp,” Mike and Barry teased me.
“Dad, the family’s waiting on you.” The voice returns me from the past to the present. My beautiful daughter, Rose, straightens my tie. “Mom, says hurry or we’ll be late.”
My wife, Eleanor. Eleanor Jasmine – Jaz. It was Jaz who broke the ice and asked me out.
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