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A Touch of Life (short fiction)

The autumn sun seeped in through curtains, she could not stop it even if she wanted to. A beam of light walked slowly towards the canvas. Though the room was already lit, the sun now inspired its own warmth, own shades, colours and depths. She stood in front of an easel, on it a canvas. A thin brush in her hand while her eyes drifted across the naked white to where her paint had lifted the nothing of potential beyond the skeleton of realisation. Dust danced in the sunbeams between her and the fabric where paint had dried. The sunlight now bearing over what she had painted, like the lightning bolt that once sparked a corpse into a man, though she was no Frankenstein.

Softly the brush kissed the material, slowly lines born from her motion. The contact intimate and steady, followed by impulses of movement, life emerging from where it never was. A face, then a smile, ever subtle. Her hands moulded, shaped and invoked the energy of spirit into an image that had lingered from within her thoughts. She could see it before it was real, a miasma of imagination now realised. The yawning of an image, rather than the scream of it into existence, patience. Slow, meticulous, the imperfection of beauty is what makes it perfectly beautiful.

Music wafted from speakers that carried her thoughts, she dabbed the brush, took it to the canvas and with a dash of colour, a swirl of its touch, the marmalade of chemicals spread so thin that it appeared as skin. With more care, delicate applications here and there. She could feel the beat of his heart, despite the music the whisper of his voice calling her. A fine touch of colour on his lips, where hers could nearly land. A kiss. She blushed. Now cleaning her brush, she lifted another, blending the colours she needed. With a soft touch, it was now his turn to forever blush. His eyes always on hers.

Taking a step back she looked him over, how many hours had it been that she had hunched and knelt before the canvas. She had laboured, created a life. Now she could see it breathe. A passer-by may notice and throw her a compliment, “thank you”, she would say but it was not for them. Was it for her, or perhaps him. The man in the canvas, the portrait to a stranger. Though he felt more familiar, an intimate, though not a lover. She had created him, but she was his mother. Yet, she had given life. He, all of it was her art. As she pressed her brush one last time, the finality was now the birth of a portrait. It was done, though never over. Other life to be made.

May, 2024

Published inAll Articles and EssaysMiscellaneousShort stories and fictions