The Untold Story Sleeping Within The Strokes: Part Two.
During the days when they were around, painting on my face, I felt a sense of red. It was so warm. I liked to feel red.
But now, a dark, dark blue seemed to enshroud me as the thought occurred to me: What if I never saw Mica or Dawn again? Could I get used to that? Being alone forever in a room as stark as this, would I die as a half-creation? Never feeling the red again?
Would it be possible to find color in all the grayness?
I would eventually learn from Mica and Dawn, that black was the absence of light and white was the entire spectrum in combination.
Dark and light.
If you blend black and white, you get gray.
So, then — wouldn’t it be safe to say that gray is really a combination of every color and no color? That it begs us to question it and look deeper into it? I think perhaps gray can be beautiful too, because gray is unique. It’s neither here nor there, but something else. Gray perhaps is underrated.
But maybe gray is the birthing ground for colors yet to be known?
I promised myself that if they should never return, I would spend the rest of my life searching for colors in the grayness — then the darkness would never swallow me, and I could be my own complete creation.
My companions, however, did return to me. This time they were both painting on my face at the same time.
“My girlfriend had an abortion a while back — it was mine.”
“Oh my god, really? How did you feel about that?” Rayne stopped painting and a drip fell to the floor.
“She never told me. I found out after the fact and I was devastated.”
“Jesus!” Dawn reacted with a sense of deep blue.
“I wanted it so badly. I think I would’ve been a good dad.” He paused. “Maybe the baby would have made things better with us? I was so angry with her for not including me.”
“Rightly so! But then again, you shouldn’t have kids to make things right.”
“Yeah, but it would have given us something to re-spark our relationship. There is no dimension anymore with us — it’s so… monochromatic. Flat. I think when she did that, that’s when I lost something with her. The fire died.”
Mica put his brush down and dipped his finger in a rich, magenta glob of paint, then proceeded to sweep his hands across my face. When he touched me, it was as if I could read his mind.
I could see everything he was feeling: Red, orange, blue, and gold, like that glint I would see in his eye — that then I had no name for. He was thinking of Dawn. He felt reds for Dawn, this fire that he had lost for his other.
He wanted to show Dawn more shades of it, but was blue because he was not allowed to.
Why? I wondered.
He was excited that with Dawn, he felt colors.
After a bit of silence Mica spoke up again — out of the blue.
“Have you ever thought of getting divorced?” He sounded tinged with something green.
“Of course.” Dawn was cautious. “It’s just…” She paused. “Easier said than done.” She looked at Mica. “Despite our own ‘monochromatic’ relationship, we are truly wonderful friends.”
She was a weak yellow tone.
“But is just being friends, enough? From all that we’ve talked about, don’t you want to find true happiness? That passion you have always yearned for?”
“Well, generally I am happy…”
Mica stopped abruptly and looked at Dawn with a strange look. He then sort of rolled his eyes and continued painting — he was wrought with many colors.
“He’s a fool.” Mica said, after a bit. “Taking you for granted.”
“Foolish, maybe, but I know he loves me.”
“Oh yeah?” He laughed. “I wish you could hear yourself.” Mica said quietly but with dark tones in his voice. “I think you’re just scared.”
It was at this moment I wish Dawn had put her hand to my face. I wanted to understand what she was feeling; I wanted her to feel red for Mica like Mica felt the red for her. With Dawn there was a certain blankness. I could not tell what shades she was feeling, because she rarely touched me.
And the light that emanated from her at first seemed to falter in and out. She was holding back something. Denying something.
A few days later, I gained further light into Dawn’s darkness.
Out the clear barrier, the light was new and casting soft shades of purple and pink on the puffy things scattered across the blue canvas. The great blue canvas filled the entire clear barrier when it was light. That is when Dawn entered my gray room — and she was alone.
She sat on the old box and stared at me admirably for a while. She seemed so dark blue, almost black. Confused. After a moment, she walked over to me and touched her hand to my face. Brushing it downward, gently. Like she had missed me.
At this moment I saw so many colors I could not decipher them. White! Black! Too much color! Too many feelings! Then she placed her hand where Mica had last painted with the bright magenta. She smiled warmly to herself and all I could see was red. A vibrant, bright, bright shade of crimson red!
And then I could see flashes of her life in all shades of color: Her unhappiness. Her pain. Her shadows. Misunderstood. Overlooked. Trauma. Fear — which was a mysterious shade of purple-black. Along with this I could see how much passion she truly had to give! How she felt stifled.
How she loved art, how she loved painting me with Mica. Her love of life! And then as fast as the colors flashed in and out of my mind, they suddenly fell into two tones back and forth.
Black and white. Black and white. Black and white.
Like she was On, then Off, then On, then Off. It wouldn’t stop flashing.
Dawn then turned to walk away. In doing so she tripped over a pile of what-nots causing a sharp thing to fall across the bottom of my face ripping my skin. It hurt but only a little — wow, I had never felt pain before, was this fire? — it was like a vicious shade of orange-yellow.
However, I wasn’t concerned with the rip in my face, as much as I was concerned for Dawn and her riot of colors flashing on and off — like she couldn’t rest.
When the rip happened, I could see how she was torn. Torn between this husband other and Mica. When she realized she had ripped me, she uttered a sound that was remorseful. She ran to me caressing the rip ever so delicately.
Then looking around the room frantically, she noticed the paintbrushes sitting in the stale, old water. Grabbing a brush and pouring out some paint, she slathered me thickly where my cut was gaping, careful to mend my torn face — painting right over it, sealing the wound as if it never happened.
It was so soothing. My mind was a soft blue-green. I loved this new addition to my face. It made me feel — dimensional.
Then she walked over to the clear barrier and put her hand on it. She yearned for something. A winged thing flew quickly past the barrier.
“Oh, if I could be that bird beyond the window.” She spoke quietly to herself.
The barrier was called a window!
Then she left me.
She left me wanting to paint over her torn emotions. How could I help her? I yearned for when I would see my companions once more.
Cycles of dark and light went round and round.
“I broke up with her.”
I awoke to the sound of Mica.
The spotlight was off, and the natural, gray light coming through the window silhouetted everything in front of me. I could make out Mica’s form. He was standing face to face with Dawn. They were inches from one another, sitting kind of intimately — like when they would sit with me as they painted.
They were black shapes — shadows gravitating towards touch.
Dawn’s form glanced towards the floor.
“Wow, Mica!” She seemed excited. I saw a burst of bright magenta.
“I spent the weekend moving in with my dad. It kind of sucks, but there was no point for me to keep going the way I was. Just — life is too short,” finished Mica. “I don’t know, let just say something about this painting — has inspired me.”
“I know what you mean. Me as well.” She answered quietly. “I think it’s amazing what you did — moving out like that.” She paused for a moment. She then changed the subject.
“I wish I could share a similar news. But, we had a fight last night, my husband and I, the worst one yet.” She became dark black-purple. “He pushed me.”
Mica’s dark form looked up at the ceiling in disbelief and frustration. The colors of orange and red flared brightly.
“What!?” He said in darkness — yet he was calm.
“What am I doing wrong?” Dawn seemed so lost as I saw the flashing back and forth of her colors.
“Nothing!” There was an angry, fat pause. “How is it that you can say you are happy in this marriage?”
Dawn exhaled in an irritated fashion. “He’s a good man! I am happy!”
“That’s bullshit! You are lying to yourself. Believing in some — what, false ideal?” He said with scathing red. Mica was almost yelling at her and I felt a bit of orange-yellow — distress.
Dawn sat down gravely on the old box and mindlessly started playing with the paint.
“I mean, c’mon Dawn!” Mica began with a more tender approach, “You’re stronger than this!”
Dawn was still silent, yet I could feel a prickling, slight, secret smile across her lips as she listened to Mica. Both of their silhouettes glanced towards the floor.
After a long dark while, the light faded into almost black.
Not knowing what more to say on that topic, they moved to more light topics of broken conversation and then came to paint on me. The light outside was nearly gone. Mica went to the little black box and made the music come out.
“Maxwell.” Naming the music. “The ambassador of love.”
Dawn smiled at Mica — the red she felt for him was evident. Perhaps she was no longer torn, as I thought of the way she fixed the rip upon my face.
“I have to go,” she said, as her flashing tones came back like a strobe. Now, I felt blue.
“All right.” Mica just looked at her, brush in hand.
But Dawn didn’t leave. It was like something was holding her feet against the floor. Both of them were still silhouetted in the waning light, with silence between them, and I could feel a tension in the air again. That stretched canvas-like tension, saturated with colors.
If I had lungs, I would have been holding my breath! Maxwell kept calmly singing in the background.
Dawn then hesitantly collected her things and walked out of the door, casually saying goodbye to Mica. Mica watched her leave and continued to stare at the door even after it was shut and she had gone. He then turned the spotlight on, and Mica and I were illuminated.
Everything around that circle of light — black.
He continued to paint on me. It was vigorous and tinged with deep, reds. His eyes however, seemed cold, and the rich brown luster of them somehow seemed dimmer. There was no gold this time — just madness.
Splashes of paint were thrown at my face, bit of it got on the floor and the what-nots around me, and he touched me without the use of paintbrushes, but what felt like his entire body.
Color. Vigor. Passion. Anger. Angst!
When I thought he could paint across me no fiercer, I heard a click at the door (so did he). It was Dawn.
She had come back!
Like a wave, the fiery luster had returned to Mica’s eyes and poured loudly out from them. He stared at her questioningly but with a faint smile. He was glad to see her. His paintbrush was poised motionless on my face still, and I could feel that crimson red tension return to the room.
It was she who spoke first.
“I went downstairs.” (pause) “I got in my car…” (pause) “… and I just sat there. I just sat — feeling somehow…” she was hesitant, “… dissatisfied.”
I could hear him swallow hard. Paintbrush still poised. After a heavy, controlled sigh, Dawn continued.
“I couldn’t leave.” She said. Silence. “I guess I just needed…”
“Needed what?” Mica didn’t miss a beat, it was almost as if to challenge her.
“Needed… a hug?” The last part of her sentence squeaked out as if that wasn’t what she really wanted to say.
As if it was a command to be followed, Mica threw the paintbrush to the palette without care of how it landed, and a deep, violet splotch flicked to my face.
He walked over to Dawn in a way I had never seen him walk to her before — like he wanted to devour her with the golden fire coming out of his eyes, burning and eating everything it touched.
They were just beyond the line of light in the shadowy area, but I could see them clearly as if they were in full saturation, as if the fire in his eyes illuminated them. Mica threw his arms around her so strong, burying his face in her neck.
There was a soul-splitting release. It cracked through and split open my gray room like nothing I had ever seen.
They weren’t even touching me and suddenly the whole room glowed red! As if the entire space had been inundated in exquisite tones of pink, crimson, maroon, and rose — colors I had never seen!
Exploding in bursts all around my gray room, with Mica and Dawn dimming the spotlight and taking possession as the source of light that saturated my face. There was no shadow that I could see.
So this is what true red felt like! How wonderful! I couldn’t get enough of the color! I felt so insatiable. Thirsty? It’s as if I couldn’t get enough of Mica. I couldn’t get enough of Dawn.
There they were, still embracing as Maxwell’s music painted the background, and the crimson played from the radio matching the rouge in my room! It was here that Mica pulled away only long enough to look at her in such a way, their noses so close together.
He brushed her hair from her forehead with a soft and strong grace, placed his lips to her lips — they breathed into one another.
Perhaps this is what it looked like to be painted? How beautiful it was to watch them. They did this for hours right in front of me.
It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
This is a three-part series by Kristi Stout.
Tune in next week for the next chapter in ‘The Untold Story Sleeping Within the Strokes’.