26 Paintings on the Wall

The first drawing was of a very young boy with an outstretched arm, an open hand, and his tiny fingers reaching into space.  Of a boy lost, alone and frightened, yet excited with the unknown.  A single image, unaccompanied by any other illustrations.  This was a very solemn depiction of a child at a stage of innocence.  In a time when the world was new, and emotions were untainted.  A place where some of us would like to go, but know they no longer can.

The second drawing was of a garden on a cold spring night.  The sky filled with icy stars.  I knew this memory.  I had spoken to Aria of it.  Again, the boy is alone, but he is older.  He is wandering through the shrubs and flower beds.  It’s my home and I have sneaked outside when I shouldn’t have.  I blame it on the stars, I know they are the ones that have drawn me outside.  Seeing them at night, countless fixed points in the crisp cool air.  Still, silent, twinkling, inviting; like a thousand million summits of hope dangling before me in the night sky.  And my only desire is to visit them all and see with my eyes the worlds that orbit them.

There was a small rill running through the centre of the cave where the fireflies came and went.  They brought with them my days and nights.  When it was day, they were many and the cave filled with light.  At night, there were only two or three, permitting a dim glow on the dark walls where the white outlines of the images emanated faintly, like thoughts that linger alone in the back of my mind.  It’s where the only light came from, trapped as I was in this dark hollow.

I had somehow slept through the first two nights and woke each morning to find the walls drawn with my memories.  Only on the third night did I wake in the shadows while the work was in progress.

My eyes opened to an ashen glaze clouding my vision.  It cleared quickly.  The door to the cave was open and Nill stood at the entrance like a steel sentry guarding the only exit.  I saw the clamps surrounding Nill’s spherical head had flipped down, exposing an empty space.  The head had been liberated.  I looked to my left and saw it floating along the wall independently.  A glowing vapour touched the stone surface, which illustrated the images with an almost invisible white paint.  Nill had been drawing from my memories, literally, while I slept.  But something had disturbed Nill, something on the third night with the third drawing, and the reverberations had woken me.

What Nill managed to draw, before abandoning the projection, was a man positioned face up in an open sarcophagus filled with water.  There was something covering his mouth.  Cables were attached to his head and body.  Beside him was another open sarcophagus filled with water.  A woman was being positioned into it with the help of two men.  The cables from both caskets lead to a machine where the shape of a number formed on a panel inside the machine.  But Nill stopped drawing before the numbers were complete, leaving only the number 1, followed by a crescent that looked like a 6.  So maybe it was 16.  I knew these images, I knew the man, I had seen him before.  I realised I was looking at myself.  But the woman and the incomplete numbers were a mystery to me.

I got up and walked towards the drawing on the wall, while Nill’s head returned to its body.

“Who is she?” I asked.

Nill kept silent as the clamps secured the floating sphere to its body.

“These images, I’ve seen them before.  Just before I spoke to the Priest,” I said turning to look at Nill.  “How did you get all this?  How did you get into my head?”

“The Priest!  You spoke to the Priest?” Nill said, taken by surprise with my revelation.

“You haven’t answered my question,” I replied.

A surge of white energy hit me, and I went reeling across the stone floor to the opposite wall.  Regaining myself, I looked up to see Nill had closed the door and left me alone with the wall paintings of my memories.

One must act in painting as in life, directly.

Pablo Picasso