The blue paint splashed across the broad white canvas in a sweeping, yet finely crafted arc. Rebecca took a step back to look at the color and shape she had brought into existence. She had taken art classes, painting workshops and even taught some coloring techniques but until the accident she never really considered herself an Artist. She stepped back toward the newly alive canvas and stretched up high to the near top edge and painted a long thinner blue line. She took another step back. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a breath, to clear her mind and to objectively look at the work she had just done.
She opened her eyes on the exhale and scanned her work. She hated it. It didn’t really express the burning pain she had experienced. She looked at her color pallet and thought about switching colors to something more vibrant, something bluer to really capture the flickering police lights the night everything changed. She brushed her hair off her face and absentmindedly started rubbing the large scar on the right side of her face.
She had a seven inch scar starting just above her right ear that cut behind a reconstructed ear, through her hair and down toward the nape of her neck. Her ear and side of her face had been nearly sheared off when the car flipped and slid on its passenger side. Her window was open as the car started to flip and her head made the quick and brutal acquaintance of the asphalt. She was lucky it wasn’t worse. She didn’t break any bones or suffer any other internal injuries.
Rebecca stopped massaging her scar and changed paint brushes. She dipped the brush into the red paint and began aggressively smearing the canvas with it. She felt the red was working, people could understand red, as a warning, as a sign of danger, as something painful. The red started taking the shape of the ambulance lights flashing through the darkness setting the surrounding trees alight. She could remember the bright red of the road flares and she started to gently mix a little orange in with the red as she continued to paint. She was sweating now.
Her mind drifted away from the blossoming canvas and back to Andrew’s face as he smiled at her while singing along with the car radio. She couldn’t hear the song anymore, she thought she used to know it but it was somehow erased from her memory. Andrew loved that song. She remembered the deer as it shot out into the road and Andrew swerving on the wet surface to avoid it. She remembered still framed flashes of hitting the guardrail and being in the air. She remembered Andrew saying, “Hang on”, right before the car smashed onto her side and then flipped down the embankment. Then the lights and the sirens and then the loneliness.
She took a step back from the canvas and took a breath and closed her eyes. She opened them as she exhaled. It was there; the lights, the drizzle, Andrew’s pained face, her blood all put on the canvas just like her broken mind remembered. The painting blazed with color and emotion. Rebecca dropped the paintbrush to the floor and crumpled down next to it in a heap of tears.
Her wails of loneliness and heartbreak filled her studio and embedded themselves into her painting. A vibrancy and luminosity seemed to emanate from the work she later titled, “Release”.