A documented conversation with my paint brushes


When the night falls, there’s a stillness in the air that is almost haunting. Inactivity and solitude replace all of the usual shufflings of bodies in my home. There are no doors opening, no stairs creaking. The uncanny vacillation between unease and comfort in the atmosphere confuses me.

Is this unsettling? Or can a mind finally run free in this serenity?

My mind attempts to fill the silence but is interrupted every second by a ticking sound. This clock’s intrusion in this dark lull is almost arrogant. My mind yearns to finally rip off its leash and be free in this open space, yet with each tick, each second, the clock reminds me that this void has an end.

My contempt takes over, and before I know it, my hands bury the rat underneath my blankets. If I can’t run forever, I can at least imagine an eternity.

I hold on to this faux feeling of my newfound freedom, but in the silence, a few voices strain to make themselves heard. The standard bustle of everyday life typically drowns out any of their sounds, but now, they are reminding me that their breath continues.

I glance over, and a grimy, plastic cup lined with dulled colors of aged paint and withered brushes lies, decaying yet calling out my name in whatever raggedy voice can squeeze out of that mess.

Whatever sense of freedom that let my thoughts run loose once again comes to a halt. I lock eyes with my unyielding paintbrushes, but I quickly break the bond of our constrained glares as I turn my head away, ashamed.

If you are free, why can’t we dance anymore? If your mind is alive, why are we still dying?

Their begging echoes in my head, not knowing whether I’m unable or unwilling to ignore the cries. My heart pleads, longing to pick each one up and lose itself in a flush of colors and a wrinkled dream, but my mind refuses its wish, knowing there is other work that needs to be done.

Almost as if the paint brushes could hear my thoughts, they spoke again, but you never pick us.

But I can’t choose them, no matter how profuse my love is, no matter how deep my heart sinks its nails into my skin, craving to be set free. Maybe during another night when the hound ticks again and the silence floats through the air, I will pick up a brush and lose myself.

But they will not withhold their voices. My implications and hopes aren’t enough.

Choose us, they beg.

Choose us, they cry.

Choose us.

My heart says yes, but my mind turns away. It is as if the string that connects both of them in my body is tightening, stretching as my heart runs in one direction and my mind runs in another.

It is as if the string that connects both of them in my body is tightening, stretching as my heart runs in one direction and my mind runs in another.

The colors will be a mess, anyway, and I will fall behind on my work. I refuse to let the brushes fail me, so I will ignore them entirely. But I miss the feeling of the soft, delicate strokes on the canvas. I miss nothing but a sweet swift of its hairs brushing against the ivory frame.

My hand quietly reaches for a paintbrush, and a surge of nostalgia rushes through my fingertips and into my body.

I quickly realize that I wish I could choose both, but I am only one person, even though sometimes I feel like two. Both. I want both. I want love, and I want to continue working. I want to unapologetically live, and I want to linger in the cavern of my mind.

Before I can choose, the beast beneath my blankets unleashes an impudent ring. I look at the time, and it’s time for me to get ready for the day.

Before I can choose, the rat chooses for me, reminding that this silence has an end. This freedom isn’t eternal.

Or maybe it is perpetual, but I cannot figure out how to live by a broken clock. In the meantime, please let my paint brushes know I apologize.

Please let them know that I hear their cries, and one day, we will dance again.

We will dance, even if time refuses it.