The Portrait


The colors flowed from his brush so easily. He remembered the moment as if it were yesterday, or only a moment ago. He dabbed for a bit of cream and orange and his brush deftly slid across the canvas. Where there had been nothing, there was now color. He built texture as he thought of the moment. Their old home, built with care, but not so perfect as homes he had seen, not so perfect as her.

She had smiled that day, it was the start of a new life with her and his hands remembered as easily as his mind. He squeezed more paint from the colorful tubes onto his pallet, and mixed those colors into the image in his memories, an image of beauty and passion, and a love most couldn’t even imagine.

They were so young then, it was so long ago, but still the image was clean, and pure, and so vivid. He mixed skin tones from several colors and her body seemed to come to life, while strokes of black and grey gave her dimension. The crispness of her shoulder, the lithe beauty of her neck, and the small of her back, so perfect, so lovely.

He remembered how they started their life together that night. She had told him she would love him forever, and he too was bound to her for all time. The image was burned in both of them as their passion truly knew no bounds, not that night, nor any night to follow ‘til now.

He took a fine brush from the table next to him and began recreating a face that he could never forget. Each line, every curve taking on a life of its own as he remembered the curve of her nose, the subtle lines of her lips. There was no stopping, no pause as every detail so locked in his mind that there could be nothing but perfection, nothing but his memory creating that perfection.

It had not been moments, but hours as he recreated every detail and felt his hands guided, each hair was placed with the highlights of the sun, just as he remembered, just before he held her, just before they made their love forever. The wrap surrounding her, with its plethora of colors, still burned in his mind, still driving him until it was closer and closer, then finished. He did not forget, the red hair tie, that a moment later came from her hair as she turned and looked at him. He remembered how she had looked at him with her hair down and simply said, “I love you,” and how he had stammered, so sweetly and said he loved her as well.

He looked at the picture, his perfect picture. He had never painted before today. He gazed down at his knurled hands, worn from the years and not the hands that had touched her that night. He felt the callouses, and slowly wiped the paint from his hands as he stared at the picture, hoping, even praying it would come to life. The picture seemed pulse with each passing moment, but it did not come alive except in the corner of his vision, the depths of his never to be lost memories. He stood slowly and carefully cleaned up the paints he had bought today. He had not known what he needed, but was driven to buy them, the brushes, the canvas and the easel. The picture now sat on that easel. It had a life of its own, not just in his memories but in every moment since then, that moment, seventy years ago where he had felt the most powerful feeling of his life, and only watched it grow. He carefully moved the easel to the head of the casket and gazed down at his once beautiful, still beautiful wife. He was lost in the decades, the years, the hours, and even the moments and as he remembered all they had been together he fell to his knees and cried.