We are pleased to post a brand new short story by Latifa AlGhaferi who was inspired yet again to write and share this with us. We hope you enjoy it ^^
On the anniversary of her birth her father surprised her with a trip to their local art gallery. Each step her shiny red shoes took was accompanied by a memory of her mother and how she used to love the world of colors and passion; she loved it so much that she went away with it. The girl remembered the fire that night; how vivid it seemed, how enthusiastic the flames were when they licked the walls of the studio and consumed it whole. All that remained were colorful ashes and the bittersweet scent of fire that told the tale of the unrecognized artist.
During her lifetime, her mother didn’t sell a single work of art; people often criticized her style and called it too abstract to be anything but accidental strokes of color on canvas. Even so, her mother was never discouraged; kept saying that she wasn’t painting to be recognized by people, that she was painting so ‘they’ would be heard. She taught her daughter how to listen to the dyes and the streaks of emotion that lined their world.
The outside of the gallery building was crowded with people as always, from street performers to tourists to vendors to the senior citizens feeding the pigeons. A little blonde girl in a green dress approached the girl and her father; she was selling flowers. She gave the girl a red rose to match her dress and wished them a good day. With her red rose in hand, the girl and her father entered the gallery.
The inside of the building was equally crowded that day; a new artist was going to be debut and the mood was simply electric with excitement. With a promise to meet in an hour for lunch, the girl and her father separated.
She wandered the halls of the gallery, sinking deep into the abyss of paintings. From some she heard the ringing of laughter, the clearest of songs, and the most beautiful of melodies. From others, she heard the most sorrowful cries, the most anguished of screams, and the most tragic of pains. Each had its own story to tell, and they’d tell it, but only if someone was willing to listen. Every stroke of charcoal, every slash of color, every swirl of paint; everything here was a world unsaid.
The girl found herself in a not so crowded part of the gallery by the time it was to meet with her father. She promised herself just one last exhibit before looking for him. The sign told her that this was the ‘Anonymous Artist Section’, which basically meant these were the abandoned paintings, some without even a signature on them. She went around hearing each one’s story; their joyful laughter and cries of misery, how it all made up one story.
One particular painting held on to her attention longer than any of the others in the gallery. She could not hear a single whisper from it, not a murmur, not a faint cry, not even the sound of him breathing. The boy in the painting was simply asleep on the bed of blue roses while the world went by. The name plaque in front of his painting was as smooth as the petals of the red rose she was holding. That must be why he’s this silent; he has no name, he doesn’t know his story, thought the girl. She allowed her mind to wander while straining her ears to listen to his voice, she was certain she could find it.
In the midst of all that wondering, her mind was able to capture one word only. But that was enough for her; she knew what word it was. The girl took out her keys and looked around, making sure they were alone. Gently and deliberately, she carved out each letter and gave life to the sleeping boy. At some point her rose fell to the ground, some petals scattering around her.
Stepping back to admire her handiwork, her father finally was able to locate her and exclaimed that they would be late for their lunch reservations if they did not leave this very second. He promised they’d visit the gallery once again and so, they left.
Had she stayed another moment, she might have heard the half chocked sob of relief and pain from the other side. How cruel was she, to give him a name and leave him there, thought the sleeping boy, or Reve, as he’s now realized his own name. She was just like her, the woman who painted him and went out with the flames before even giving him a name.
Author: Latifa AlGhaferi