I was gifted a number painting for my birthday this year; I started working on it that day. It’s now sitting unfinished on my art desk.
My birthday is in June.
The numbered shapes create an image of a girl reading in a room cluttered with plants; I adore plants and, consequently, love green. The painting is perfect. I’ve filled in all the twenties (dark green), the twenty-twos (light green), and the squares of thirteen have been filled with their coinciding coffee brown.
The only aspect of the painting that remains unfinished is the girl in the middle.
From her hidden face down to her shoes, intended to be colors thirteen and three, making them incredibly reminiscent of my own Bearclaw slippers, she feels like a mirror. I can’t fathom how I could paint her into my world—one plagued by the never-ending threat of change.
If painted into reality now, she could grow attached to the beautiful souls that flood my bedroom for pop-culture rant sessions, exhausted homework hours, and intensely glittered Friday nights. She would quickly fall in love with their spirits and just as quickly watch as they scattered across the country.
The girl in my painting would see the things I’ve been dreading for four years at minimum, but would have to cope with her losses in a matter of only ten months.
I can’t watch as she experiences the changing of seasons, as the crisp leaves of fall cover any ground reminiscent of summer, as she sits, surrounded by her perpetually green plants, seeing as my own struggle in the frosty harshness of winter, and as our world begins to wax and wane in the spring.
It’s all too harsh to do to someone so comfortable in their naivety. Someone who right now can escape the tears after a final choir concert, the realization of practicing for a closing number, and the pain of writing a finale to a two-year-long version of myself.
At times, I really wish I had someone to keep me away from all the unknowns of growth, until they become the fables of my past. I wish I could be saved from the inevitable—the brazen harshness of reality.
But then, is the true harshness keeping her from the love, fulfillment, and beauty of a life I currently treasure so much?
No matter the case, in less than a year she’ll be sitting alone in a hollow room. No longer will she be surrounded by the warmth of familiarity—nor will I. I can’t imagine all that change being very bearable; I can’t grasp the floating petals that are my future.
So, I reach for the petals alone, and endure a terrifying change I can—and will—save her from.