Monday, October 24, 2011

“I Am Your Canvas” by Emily McGrath

You truly are an amazing artist. Your skilled hands capture the image of your anger, hatred and disappointments perfectly. I study your work with an open imagination as I allow my mind to search for what drove you to create each piece.

I am your canvas. You decorate my skin, creating patterns across my back and designs up my limbs. I display to the world what cannot be hidden beneath clothing, I flaunt what you have created. The dark purple and faded blue handprints that reach around my neck and the swollen splatter that curves around my back are the most interesting. I trace my fingers over them and close my eyes, feeling your emotions—feeling your pain.

As you near I feel fear begin to crawl up my throat, it scratches at my skin trying to escape. But why do I fear the artist, especially when I love you so dearly? Your heavy footsteps move unsteadily through the house. I crouch against the wall, my hands covering the prints across my neck.

I never dare to leave my room. For how will you find me when inspiration strikes? And if ever I do leave, I move silently throughout the house as to ensure that I am never caught.

I gave up talking to you a long time ago. You simply don’t hear, which I understand, of course. An artists mind is so full of ideas that listening as well would simply cause it to flood. But you talk to me as you create your art. I listen as you yell your words of fury or sob about life’s letdowns. I have learned to be the best listener, even as my ears are ringing with pain.

The fear within me grows to be unmanageable as your footsteps approach the door. I hate the trembling that takes over my hands and I curse the tears that slowly drip down my cheeks. Why are you so afraid? my thoughts yell fiercely within the walls of my mind. Beneath his dark emotions is only love for you! I knew that’s why you did this to me; you saved your anger because you wanted to make me beautiful. You wanted to show the world that I am the only thing that makes you happy because I am what takes your pain away. I understand you like no one else.

I hear something heavy slam to the floor, followed by a shattering glass. I flinch. You let out slurred yell. Maybe today’s pieces will be enhanced by alcohol—the bitter thought crossed my mind before I had time to stop it.

I could hear you right outside my door, breathing heavily. Patiently I wait. The door swung open violently, and there you stood. Your tie hung loosely from your neck and your dress shirt was wrinkled and no longer tucked in. A small whimper escaped my lips at the site of you. Anger and a pleading desperation flickered across your eyes. You were begging me, you needed me. I slowly stood up, my frail bones, muscles and bruised skin aching.

As I stood I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Horror took over. I didn’t even recognize myself. My skin, mostly bruised blue and purple, clung to my bones. I had difficulty finding areas of myself not marked by you. Everything was decorated, everything was patterned.

I looked back to you, feeling a little more hopeless. It’s your love, I told myself weakly, it’s your love that covers me.

I took a step forward, steadily holding your pained eyes. Your pain is worse than mine, I thought calmly. I offered myself to you and once more let your art consume me. Once more I let myself become your canvas, because after all, you are truly an amazing artist.

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