The Woman in the Sketch: Flash Fiction
Sketches vs. Photos
Using a pencil, Sam drew a curved line. He connected the line forming the basic structure for the human eye. His sketches always start with the eyes. He can remember her eyes as if she was in the room with him. His mother had green eyes with glints of gold that seemed to radiate light and heat. The kind of eyes that could peer into your soul and lay bare all your secrets while elevating all your fears. His daughter has her eyes. Sam shaded in her eyes and slowly drew the shape of her face. He drew her lips, the lips that kissed him goodnight, the lips that kissed his father when they thought no one was watching. His sketches of her always reflected her when he was younger, when his mother was the sole proprietor of his world. Sam looked at a picture of his mother sixty years later. A photo can’t hide the truth, photos show things as they are not as we see them in our minds. A sketch or painting shows what we believe we see. In his mind, his drawling is his mother and not the crass depiction of a photo.
Sam stopped and looked at the drawling seeing more his daughter than his mother. He picked up his phone and stared at her number. He hadn’t called his daughter Sara in a few days. She was about a month away from making him a grandfather. Her husband David was a good man, but no one was good enough for Sara. He came to terms with him about a year into their marriage and accepted he might stick around when they announced the pregnancy. He put the phone down and went back to finish the sketch. He shaded in her hair trying to capture her naturally fiery red. Her hair now showed more white than red, but her eyes still had that fire.
Off in the distance, a door opened them closed, Jennys home. Sam looked at the most recent sketch of his wife. Unlike his mother, Jenny’s sketches and painting reflect as he was at the time, he made them. They reflected the love he has for her without the filter of nostalgia. He loves who she is not some memory altered by time and perceptions. Sam turned and looked at the unfinished painting knowing it was going to be late unless he went back to work. He retired from his job to do something he loved not realizing it would eventually become a job. Art was always a calling, even when it was just a hobby. Jenny worked three days a week as a yoga instructor at the YMCA, a far cry from her days as an attorney for the city. The work was less a job and more of a way she can give back to the city she loves.
Sam went back to the painting of his pomposity, the CEO of a company. He was hired to paint the man in the best light he could. The CEO was so afraid of having “an artsy type” in his office he sent pictures rather than posing which work for Sam. The less time with the man that lost people their jobs while earning a million-dollar bonus the better. Sam stared at this man trying to capture how the CEO saw himself while not adding his feelings into the work. When done, his art will hang in the lobby of the company for years, next to other paintings of men some of whom were titans of their industry when such a thing mattered. The CEO wanted a painting that reflected strength and vitality gray but not too much gray. He wanted to look like George Clooney, but he looked more like Richard Nixon.
Memories in Pencil
Sam turned back to the sketch of his mother. She had told him to focus on the future and not make “this art thing” his whole life. He worked as a social worker for forty years helping more people on his first day than any of his art ever did. Still, he felt like giving up was a mistake. He would paint when he could not know his hobby would one day make money. He finished the sketch and scanned it into a file. From there he sent the drawling to a friend that would make a frame. His mother liked his pencil work, that is she liked it when she could remember who he was and who the person in the sketch was. Before the disease took her memory. He turned to the bottle near his easel. Namenda, a drug meant to help him hold onto his memories. He looked around wondering just how long he would remember who the woman in the sketch was. How long before he can’t remember all those people he can’t see living without.
© 2019 Michael Collins aka Lakemoron