Lewin had shown bits and pieces of a story on his blog a bit ago — that link is here, and he asked his readers to add an ending to the story. Considering I barely even end my own fiction, I figured I’d just run with it, and see where it went, for fun. I hope to read more of Drew; until then, I’ll just be imagining.
* * *
Drew came and went.
Paintings came and went.
That bookmark ended up in my pocket, and I kept it with me throughout our short time together; I meant to confront him. I meant to corner him and make him answer me. I meant to grab hold of his shoulders and shake the answers out of him — but every time he came back, I was glad enough to see him, and then see the paintings, that I never did. He would paint, and then he’d leave, and the painting would have time to dry, and I would stand in front of it and breathe it in.
It never smelled like drying paint, but instead like starwind, like faroff dreams, like things I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to grasp and know like I could know the here and now that surrounded me. I wanted to go with him. I wanted to run away from him. I wanted to learn about everything he saw. I wanted to close my eyes and unsee all the alien things that he brought into focus on the canvas.
My heart ached more and more for Drew every time he came back, if only because the paintings began to take on a quality that I couldn’t name until a midwinter afternoon with the windows frozen shut and the heater barely breathing, and everything on hold and waiting until Spring came back from the dead: homesickness. Something about the paintings stopped conveying adventure, and started whispering of loneliness. Any hesitation I had regarding asking Drew about his visits began to evaporate — surely I couldn’t be so selfish as to want to vicariously experience those thrills even while his heart was breaking during every visit?
And then, one afternoon, when it had been days since he’d left, and I could feel that itch in the air that seemed to come from all around — the silent pressure that inevitably pushed him away, through, and to somewhere else, I skipped sessions and stayed in, all day, with him.
If he were going to leave, he’d have to do it in front of me.
“Drew?” He looked at me like a man underwater, a boy, still, faded and muffled, and uncertain about breathing. “We need to talk.”
He nodded, mute, and his shoulders sank–but whether in resignation, or relief, I couldn’t tell.
Starwind… I always love your words. And you carried this off better than I did when I finished it… I have half a mind to steal your version and slip it into mine, but it would be the heart of it. Thanks Jones – honestly, you made my day with this. I feel flattered and happy, and it’s not just the excessive Monday night wine talking.
Bah — your version is brilliant. I’m glad you like mine, though.