There I sat, on that cold desolate park bench, brush in hand, heavy in heart. The coy sun peaked out from behind the gray blanket of haze, afraid to shine light on my situation. The wet weeping canvas further warranted the scene, my life. I wiped the tears from the painting with the edge of my ragged sleeve. “Cheer up,” I muttered. But I was only talking to myself. A daring warm breeze made the sulking tall Oaks yawn and reluctantly awaken. Contagious courage inspired the sun to clear the clouds and as she surfaced she smiled proudly. The boasting colorful rays, flickers of light, connected the passing storm and the arising sunshine. I choked down a smile of my own that was trying to escape from behind my dark pencil thin mustache. Rainbows have always fascinated me.
Like all hope, it has been my experience that the optimistic aura of each rainbow, like the innocence of a child, does not long linger. I stuffed my self-loathing in a corner and took a brief moment to examine the surrounding presence of mystical wonder. Even I dare not waste this magically rare manifestation. For I knew it would be soon to vanish. I shifted stiff upright and with an unrelenting gaze, pierced the soul of that rainbow. Like a powerful fish caught at the end of a hook, the dancing colors controlled the motion of my pupils as they cut through the monotony of the gloomy ether. Loosening the slack, I let my mind wander. “If this rainbow’s symphony can brighten a condemned sky, what could it do for me?”
My attention jerked. “Here kitty, kitty, kitty,” I cooed with an obvious smirk and squinting of the eyes. The rainbow feigned obliviousness and eagerly joined the Mistle Thrushes in song as she weaved playfully through the trees. With a lowered brow and twinge of disgust I realized what was happening. The thin towering Oaks had their noses in the air, the Thrushes snickered behind my back, and the rainbow – was mocking me. Even the mud puddle had the audacity to spit on my stivali as I exploded off of that up-tight bench and landed with a furious foot. I seized my brushes and palette, splattering the bench with leftover oils and hatred. We had just met and she zealously judged me – insipid, dull, void of color. “How dare you,” I snarled.
The colors of the rainbow played hide and seek as I frantically searched the inner workings of my brain for a way to execute the kidnapping. It would be no easy task to capture her beauty within a centimeter 25×25 stretched cotton canvas. Seemingly unaware of my ploy they giggled as they played childish games of hopscotch and jumped rope. I had to act quickly before the playful rainbow disappeared. Using what little I had, I created a makeshift trap out of my supplies. I dug deep into my pocket and carefully removed a small tin box. I bite off a chunk of almond torrone and placed it under the easel as bait. I licked my lips, the sweet flavor reminded me of happy times, times when I too played naively without worry or hesitation. Taking nearby cover I watched as the colors swelled with joy as they carried on carelessly, seemingly unaware of my scam. Without warning the hair on the back of my neck stood alert.
Behind me, like a bullied child alone on a swing set, the color red turned away to avoid my scrutiny. How long has she been watching me? Violated and ashamed I looked back at the heap of my supplies, twisted and warped. “And I call myself an artist,” I inquired with contempt. As if she could see inside the mechanisms of my soul, the color red parted herself from the rainbow and landed herself on my easel. The small square bulged and darkened with color as she saturated the canvas. Astonished by her willingness to leave her high place in the sky, I fumbled as I tried to cover the canvas in case she changed her mind. Keeping a close eye and a tight grasp on my prize, I headed straight home instead of taking the more charming, meandering path that got me here. When I passed by busy sidewalks I pulled the canvas so close that I could feel Red’s heart beating heavy against my own and so I quickened my pace.
As I got closer to home the bag was getting heavier, Red became restless, frightened. She jolted abruptly from side to side; I dropped my keys in the doorway. I stifled her movements with a quick kick and once inside, hooked the dead bolt without hesitation. With my back against the door I breathed in and out deeply, catching my breath. I reluctantly untied the bag and kicked it across the floor to the other side of the room. It slid into the couch and she burst out, screaming violently, like a shaken can of soda. I thought of my first kiss, the fountains at Piazza Castello, as the red mist tinted everything she came in contact with. I had never seen color as beautiful as the reds she painted before me. As she deliberately danced she transformed my lackluster life with various shades of red. She flew like a deflating balloon from room to room in my small dilapidated villa. I stood silently watching.
When she finally noticed me, still pinned to the door, she dropped the hairbrush microphone and started toward me. Like a sexy starlet on the runaway she seductively approached. When she kissed me I turned red. She added a great deal of color to my dreary soul. I treasured her for teaching me to see beyond the monotony of black and white. She was mine, all mine. I let the greed consume me. In an attempt to avoid loneliness from ever finding me again I robbed Red of her magnificence. Vincenzo Bellini and the aroma of exotic bubble bath lured her into a dimly-lit room. The flicker of candles danced with remorse as I tricked her into bathing with me. I washed Red of her splendor. The thing I loved most about her slowly began to fade. As the pastel pink swirls drained counter clockwise she paled with recognition of betrayal. Her once tinted cheeks were now white with apathy. She neither loved nor hated me. But she was still mine.
I had always preferred the bland taste of Trebbiano to the richness and color of the sweet Malvasia Nera. So it did not bother me when this wine faded from existence. It made me giddy when the beauty of red roses were nowhere in sight. I was satisfied when the Red Delicious apple was no longer accessible to the outside world. Arrogantly I laughed at the lovers on Valentine’s Day with nothing red to give one another. But as for me, I had all the red in the world. I owned more red than I knew what to do with. And I should have been content. But things at home weren’t as bright as they once had been. The pictures that hung on the wall began to lighten, the brilliant red they once were faded into a muted rouge. Without her hue, Red grew lonely and lost enthusiasm. She longed for the company of the other colors in the rainbow. She missed her friends. But I could not let her go; I was alone without her.
Her demon eyes glowed from across the room. Force of habit fastened the lock without breaking the stare. She slunk to me silently through the dark. Those same watchful eyes that had once saved me, revealed her troubled soul. “I will never let you go,” I firmly admitted but choked on the words. I could see the growing frustration fill her every pore. She was red with rage. I took a step back. A tornado of color filled the villa. Frames rattled off the wall, furniture splintered and cracked; the windows shattered, leaving the curtain rods bare. I pinned my back against that same front door and sunk to the floor. Red escaped in a powerful furry and I felt a breeze of loneliness come in through the broken glass. I looked up to greet an old friend but instead, a rainbow shined through the hole in the wall. The once fascinating rainbow was now a constant reminder of the selfishness that once flourished inside of me. After a storm I look to the sky to be blinded by crimson shame. And the love that was once shared until greed robbed me of her scarlet heart.