The Painter

People just found her. Because things started to happen to those who bought her paintings. Good things.

At only 30, Lila had the grace and wisdom of someone twice her age. The simple silver streaks in her dark hair, some in single strands, some in small bundles, first made their appearance in her teens when her twin sister’s appendix burst. Lila was always empathetic and attuned to others, feeling and hurting deeply. Her hair was proof of that. It was her own barometer to her empathic nature. While some saw this as a gift, the ability to feel and connect with others so strongly, she saw it as a burden and tried to shutter it away. She took art classes, painting specifically, as a means to cope. Her talent with abstracts, and matching random colors that spoke to the soul,  blew away even the most experienced of painters.

Lila had never thought of painting as a career. She dabbled in a number of jobs that she thought could be satisfying, while keeping her feelings at a tolerable level. She tried working in a clothing store, as a book keeper, and even took up dog walking, a job she absolutely fell in love with. That is, until some young teenager thought it would be funny to throw a tennis ball right past her while she was holding six leashes.

It wasn’t until one of her friends who owned a gift shop asked her if she wanted to consign a few paintings, that Lila really started to recognize that yes, she could be a painter. She discovered quite quickly that she could harness her empathic abilities to determine not only what her customers wanted out of an art piece, but so much more. There was something about her work that spoke to people, as after only a few months, she had to do little advertising. Customers sought her out.  She didn’t remember the last time she gave out a business card or a phone number. People just found her. Because things started to happen to those who bought her paintings. Good things. One woman came back after only days after purchasing her painting, to show off her new engagement ring. It was given to her by her the boyfriend she had told Lila she was worried would never ask her to marry him. Lila, felt this woman’s pain and frustration, but while painting for her, thought of the joy her customer would feel if her boyfriend did propose. Another young man came in, who had requested a painting to go in his apartment. While he was telling Lila about the color schemes he had in mind, greys, yellows, and teals, he also shared that he had been applying to medical school for five years and had resigned to the fact that maybe his dream wasn’t meant to come to fruition. So, he was buying himself a gift. While she painted, Lila thought deeply of how this kind man would make a great doctor and a week after delivering his painting, he called her, ecstatic to share that he had gotten into medical school. And then there was the woman who so badly wanted to carry on growing a garden, the way her grandmother, who had recently died, used to. She however, couldn’t manage to get anything to grow. A few weeks after this woman hung her painting, she invited Lila over to see her flourishing garden. The stories were endless. And even those who bought her generic pieces, the smaller postcards, even the prints, would call her to tell her of the joys that had recently entered into their lives.

Lila began to adore the stories her customers shared with her. The stories of engagements and marriages, new jobs, long-awaited successes and achievements, and newly discovered friends, and hobbies. While she had initially set limits to how many orders she could take, she couldn’t turn people away knowing that there was some kind of magic in her paintings, some kind of magic in her, that had these influences over their lives. And the customers knew it too. Too often she’d be stopped on her way home, by someone crying or someone sharing a heart breaking story with her. Too often she’d want to help so badly that she’d then go home and stay up through the night, painting. Nothing replaced feeling the happiness and bliss of her customers and newfound friends, except a single silver hair with each one.

It wasn’t until Lila was out walking in the rain one day, and saw her reflection in a puddle, that she noticed that her hair was nearly all silver now, and some fine wrinkles were beginning to to form around her eyes and lips. Her back ached, her fatigue grew. Her outward appearance was now too beginning to resemble that of someone twice her age. Panicked, she immediately went home to paint, while thinking of being young and vibrant. Alas, she soon realized her magic was not effective on herself.

Though she loved her customers, loved the stories and feeling their happiness, she suddenly realized the cost of letting her talent, her magic, rule her life instead of she herself ruling her magic. She thought of the vibrant lives she helped her customers start living, and for the first time, recognized the price she was paying in not giving herself the same vibrancy in her own life.

So, as the realization hit, as her back ached, as her silver hair hung flat, she went to her studio. She grabbed her brushes and snapped them in half, tossing them in the trash. While she thought there would be sadness and perhaps even a change of heart followed by the urge to go purchase more brushes, she felt nothing but freedom. Relief. Motivated by this feeling, Lila then grabbed what pieces she had left, the larger ones and smaller ones, originals and prints alike. She walked into the street and tossed them like she would rose petals, in one final well wish to those who would find them.

Image Credit: adobestock/Tony Baggett


Picture of Kathryn Kazoleas

Kathryn Kazoleas

Kathryn is a Canadian author. She has written the middle grade chapter books Dog Park and Dog Daycare, and has many more books swirling around in her imagination just waiting to be written. She lives with her dog Koa and her cat Keeva who work as her copy editors and expert distractors.

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