Little Things, Big Things

Posted: June 10, 2014 in World On The Edge

file0001465861740What are the biggest things in our lives, those that seem most important to us?  Are they truthfully the most important?

On this Tuesday,  I’m posting the seventh story in Birds of a Feather, with question and multiple choice answers. Comment below the video.

When something BIG  goes wrong in your life, how do you try to fix it?
.You don’t try to fix it.
.You go after the person who caused the problem with a hammer in your hand.
.You remove that canvas and paint a different picture



Late at night after the children are in bed and she’s certain Aaron is sleeping, Amelia takes her flashlight and climbs the back stairs into the attic of the century-old house, to paint. She climbs the wooden steps carefully, barely putting any weight at all on the top step, the one that creaks. In the corner of the attic where the support beam to the rafters makes a perfect right angle with the floor, is a square table with small brass lamp. When she pulls the lamp switch, the table and everything on it– canvas, tubes of oil paint, dry brushes in a glass jar—all come to light in a nearly perfect sphere. She clicks off the flashlight then. A lot of light is neither necessary nor wanted.

Tonight she is working on a portrait of Aaron, an eight-by-ten canvas, as all of them are. Portraits of the children are finished, for now anyway; she will come back to them later when she finds a flaw, or when some new characteristic needs to be added. The children’s faces, four of them, hang from nails hammered into the pine walls like pictures in a beloved, private gallery. Below, stacked against the wall, are more canvases of each of the children from years past, babyhood onward. But this is the first time she’s painted Aaron. Aaron’s unfinished face sits on an easel, looking back at her through deep brown eyes. The eyes are still flat. No highlights yet. Amelia hasn’t determined whether the light in his eyes will come from the right, or the left.

She pours varnish into a small metal cup, and turpentine into the glass jar, then swishes the brushes around to be sure they are clean, wiping each of them with a stained cotton cloth, pouring out the old, dirtied turpentine, and refilling the jar with the new. On a glass plate, she squeezes out the oil paint, beginning with cadmium yellow light and titanium white. Highlights for Aaron’s eyes. The light will come from the right, she thinks, wondering why she hesitated last night when she began his portrait; the light in each of her portraits always comes from the right, from the only natural light possible in the attic–through one round window that looks like the porthole of a ship. Through that window, occasional moonbeams compete with the lamp, and if the beams are bright enough, as they sometimes are, Amelia turns off the lamp, and paints by moonlight.

Tonight there is no moon, so the lamp stays on. She paints for an hour or so, until Aaron’s face is just like she wants it, charged with an expression of love and faithfulness accented by the meticulous highlights in his eyes. Then she takes the canvas and hangs it on a waiting nail, beside the portrait of their last child, Aaron Junior.


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