Paint My World

By: Stefanny

By the break of the night, the sound of door slamming is heard through the neighbourhood.This particular young boy with tousled brown hair, a helpless back depicting vulnerability and eyes blazing in fury, abruptly casts everything on the desk to the floor. His painting tools clattering as they hit the floor, his sketchbook fluttering, and the sound of a glass shattering. He clenches his fists while the scars lying beneath the bandages begin to heat up his palms.

He stands silent and the image of his father whipping his hands with a belt flashes continuously in his mind. The picture of his family dining together and yet the feeling is always hollow. Brandon Loisselis not a part of them. He is not a merchant and will never be one. All he wanted was his arts but that too disappears as time moves on. His spirit was reduced to ash and his ability to paint was stolen by his father. What’s left now is only a memory and a collection of paintings from Brandon’s deceased uncle, the only person who understood him.

Now, he is lost and sinking in his own sorrow. The feeling of anger that never subsides. Amidst the tense atmosphere,a sheer of moonlight enters his room.It is then the humming begins, deliveringa euphonic melody through the air. Enticed by the beautiful voice, Brandon turns to the source of the sound. His heart draws out reaching for the wardrobe hiding at the corner.

He quickly opens the wardrobe and a stack of paintings drops in front of him. He jolts back in surprise. The humming still continues but this time much clearer. It appears to have come from the pile of his collection. He leans them one by one against the wall and as he puts up the last painting, he stops.The melody resounds from the painting“Child with A Dove” by Pablo Picasso.

The humming slowly drifts away. Bran leans in to listen. To his carelessness, heslips and penetrates into the painting. It feels as though he plunges into the water but instead of floating, he slams onto the ground.

A girl chuckles. “Hello.”

He looks up and his eyes widen as he sees a child in a white gown holding a dove close to her chest. The subject and the background are authentically similar to Picasso’s painting.

“Did I … Did I just...”

“Did you just dive into a painting? Well, yes you did.”

He stares at her for a while before he laughs in disbelief.

“You must be joking or perhaps I’m just drunk.”

“How could you be drunk? A fifteen years old boy is supposed to have not yet be acquaintance with liquors or does the culture have change?” she asks confusedly.

Brandonbegins scouring the place. The scenery of small hills and a plain old forest surrounding the area. Everything looks too realistic to be considered as paintingsfor a real-life girl is standing in front of him.

“Have you seen enough to believe that this is real?” she asks.

He gulps. “Where am I?”

“Welcome to The World of Picasso, little Bran.” She grins.

Bran scoffs. “I’m not little.”

She giggles as she walks away, descending the hill.

“Hey, wait! What did you mean by the world of Picasso?! I need some serious explanation here!” he shouts.

“Come. Follow me, little Bran! And the truth will be revealed.”

Bran sighs. Clicking his tongue, he follows thechild with a dove unwillingly into the forest.

“Hey. What do I call you?” he asks.

“Child with a dove or girl with a dove. Whichever may suit you.” She continues to stroke the feather of the dove as it nuzzles against her chest.

Brandon snorts. “You can’t be serious. That’s just like the name of the… the– “

“The painting. Yes. By Pablo Picasso.”

His eyebrows furrow. He scratches his head in bewilderment. “That’s not– “

“Possible?” The girl smiles.She shakes her head. “You are really lacking in imagination, aren’t you?”

Halfway through the forest, they arrive at an open field with a large cottage standing in the middle. A long row of laundries hanging by the rope, a fenced garden with flowers blooming enchantingly pleasing the eyes of the passer by, children jokingly teasing one another.

While being led to the cottage by the girl with a dove, Bran’seyes flutter across the field. He witnesses all the paintings of Picasso existing like real-life subjects. He sees three women chattering.Each of them wears a simple white gown expressing the neo-classical vibe just like the exact painting “Three Women at The Spring”.

Sitting by the bench, a boy is dressed in a peculiar outfit with checker pattern of light blue and yellow, and a black hat on his head. He is “Paul in a Clown Suit”.

A smoke blows into the air froma boy sitting quietly, dressed in an all-blue outfit. A flower crown decorates his head and, in his hand, lies a pipe. This is Picasso’s painting entitled,“Boy with a Pipe”.

Brandon’s face gleams both in awe and disbelief while everybody is gawking at him as well. The girl with a dove smiles looking at his expression. She then opens the front door and Brandon steps into the cottage warily. As soon as he enters, a woman with a half-opened fan mitigating the severity of her black clothing and tied black hair greets him with an almost wistful gaze.

“Hello there, little boy.” She curtseys.

From the flowers sewn on the hem of her dress, Brandon quickly fixes his eyes on an armchair with a wonderfully painted backdrop of flowers and leaves behind her.

“Olga in an Armchair.” He states.

Olga smiles. “Olga Koklova, My Dear. Well Dove, he seems promising. I wish you good luck, little boy.” She walks past him into the front yard.

“Dove?”

“That’s what they call me for short.” says the girl with a dove.

“Dove!” shouts a girl from the living room as she quickly runs to hug her.

“Hello Lyria.” Dove hugs her back.

“Oh, I miss you so much! Hear me, I’ve been growing this magical plant that– “

“Silent, Lyria!” shouts a girlholding a wrench, dressed in a white T-shirt layered with pants overall and a cap over her auburn hair.

“Who is this hoodlum?” she asks, pointing her wrench at Brandon.

“Excuse me?”

“Now, now, Lizzy. Calm down. He is the one.” Dove says.

A young boy peeps from behind a wall to eavesdrop the conversation.

“Can he paint?” Lizzy asks.

“I can!” exclaims Bran confidently.

Liz raises an eyebrow as she stares down at his bandaged hands.

“Ah this.” His hands hold one another nervously. “My parent doesn’t allow me to paint so, I use bandage to avoid the paint from sticking on my skin.In case they suddenly call me, I’ll just tear the bandage. It has become a habit since then.”

The little boy who peeped from behind the wall just now, walks out from his hiding.His azure eyesreflect Bran’s figure crystal-clear.

“Who… Who is he?” Bran asks.

“He is my brother, Elliot.” Says Lizzy.

Elliot runs to hide behind Lizzy but his eyes are still fixated on Bran, searching as if he’s digging into his soul.

“Sorry, my brother is pretty shy.”

“Y–Yeah, I bet.”

Bran nervously takes a step back while his eyes are still meeting with Elliot’s.

“Don’t worry. He’s harmless although his staring eyes could be creepy.” Says Lizzy stroking Elliot’s sash grey hair.

“And that is Lyria, but you can call her Lily.” says Lizzy pointing at Lyria.

“Mm… I think we should hurry and tell him if he’s really a painter.” Lyria says with a worried look.

“Tell me what?”

“We’re at war.” Says Lizzy, “As you can see this is the world of Picasso. Every creature here is created by him.”

“Yeah, I recognize a few.” says Bran.

“A painter always put all of their feelings into their work. Picasso is the same. He poured all of his feelings and imagination into his paintings. As time moved on, those feelings grew stronger and we became real. Each of his painting was able to connect with one another due to his growing imagination. This forest and hill that you see is the extension from the background in “Child with A Dove” painting. The cottage is from “Olga in an Armchair”. Soon, we became more and more realistic close enough to real-life subjects, strong enough to be heard by Picasso himself. He entered the world of his paintings and was mesmerised by the magic of this world.So, he began spending his time here, creating villages, towns, acres and acres of woods, rivers and lake. He also created us. This world was wondrous and filledwith hope. But then, he disappeared. After a long time, new paintings emerged and they began to stain our world, turning the colourful scenery into nothing but blue.” Lizzy explains.

“Picasso’s Blue Period. It happened when he lost his close friend, Carlos Casagemas. He suffered from a long depression and began creating his paintings with many shades of blue.” Bran stated.

“That’s right. We call them ‘The Blues’. They’re the sickness of this world.”

“But before Picasso died, he came to this world for the last time and apologized to us. He tried to erase The Blues but he failed. So instead,he bestowed us with powers to defend ourselves.” says Lyria.

“Power?”

“Yes. Take Elliot for example. He can detect everything that’s broken as well as see what causes it.”

Bran gulps. He glances at Elliot who is still staring at him.

“What about you?” Bran points at Lizzy.

Lizzy lifts her wrench. “I’m handy. I can repair anything.”

“So, your power is related to Elliot.”

Lizzy nods. Now, Bran turns to Lyria. She gasps.

“Oh. I’m a gardener. My power lies in the plants that I grow.”

“And you?” asks Bran to Dove.

“I’m simply a child with a dove.” She smiles.

“I guess your ability is to tame the dove. It really likes you.”

“I guess it is.” says Dove.

“None of your power is able to defend yourself.” says Bran.

No one answers to his statement as they all admit it is true. They have long questioned their father, Picasso, though it’s hopeless questioning a dead man.

“That’s why we need your help, Bran. To save our world from being turn into a complete blue.” Dove grabs Bran’s arms.

“How do I help you? You want me to erase The Blues? Picasso himself can’t even do it and they’re his creation. I’m just an amateur.”

“But you’re the only one who can hear us.” says Lizzy.

Bran turns to her.

“I think that counts for something. That perhaps you’re equal to him.”

Lizzy’s words silent the whole room. They’re all looking at Brandon with a hopeful gaze that he’ll stay and help them. Bran is about to say something when suddenly; a screaming is heard from outside the cottage. They all rush outside and astounded by the appearance of an enormous creature of abstracts figure,with an almost monochromatic palette. The complexity of the subject’s art is nearly impossible to comprehend. Thus, this painting reminds Bran of Picasso’s popular technic.

“Cubism.” says Bran, “Seated Nude by Picasso from the late Blue Period.”

“For god sake! Bran quickly! You have to repaint it or it’ll turn us into blue.” Says Lizzy.

“What?! How do I even do that?”

“Use your imagination and pour all your feelings. The paintbrush will react to it and the colours will appear but the intensity of the colours relies on how strong your imagination and feelings are.” says Lyria.

“Paintbrush?”

Just then, sparks of light flickers in his palm and disperses into a paintbrush. The other paintings have begun to retaliate as the creature tries to melt their colours into blue. Bran’s hand trembles while holding the paintbrush andhis scarsburn as he tries to use it. In the end, it just falls from his clutch. Lizzy yanks the neck of his T-shirt.

“You can’t paint, can you?!” she yells, “You’re just bluffing! I’m an idiot for believing in you for a second there.”

Lizzy shoves Bran to the ground and she runs back to help her friends. Finally, the creature gets a grab of Lyria’s arm. Lyria screams as her arm turns dark blue. His adrenaline kicks in and Bran snatching the paintbrush lying on the ground, he tries to repaint the creature. The colours slowly light up but he can feel his breath getting shorter and his body weakening. He quickly retracts the paintbrush. The colours fade out into blue again.

“Bran! Help!” Lyria shouts extending her arm towards Bran.

Despite the pain in his head, Bran creates a painting of a sword and it comes to life. He throws it to the air and it slices through the creature’s arm, dropping Lyria to the ground. Bran watches her arm but the blue remains intact. Diverting his attention from the creature, it tries to stomp on Brandon. He quickly draws a hole portraying the universe and the creature is thrown into it.

Bran drops beside Lyria. His breath’s agitated and his heartbeats are crushing his chest. It’s almost feel like fainting. Cold sweats running on his skin. Despite that, he still raises his paintbrush and restores the colours on Lyria’s arm.

“Your hands!” Lyria exclaims.

Bran watches his blood smears the bandage. Lyria tears the bandage apart and the wounds along with the cuts become visible. Initiatively,Lyria rushes to her garden and picks some herbs to mend his hands. Lizzy on the other hand tries to blow his hands to cool the wounds. Elliot squats in front of Brandon, his eyes peer at him and the vision replays in Elliot’s head.

Soon, the sun begins to sink and the peace is restored. Bran is sitting by the porch when Elliot suddenly approaches him.He is taken aback by Elliot’s presence and remains silent thinking om how he should start the conversation.

“Lyria is impressive. Your hands are healed already.”

Bran turns to him. “Did you know?”

Elliot becomes quiet again. His eyes look to the distant.

“El, did you know?”

“Does it matter? The things that you should worry about is not whether I know but instead something that’s apparent. Something that you’ve lost.”

“What?” Bran looks rather confused but Elliot only gives him a smile before he walks away. Now he ponders whether Elliot knows everything about his hands.

“Bran?”

Bran lifts his head and sees Lizzy approaching.

“Hey.”

“Are you okay? You look confused.” Says Lizzy as she sits down beside him.

“I’m fine. Just wondering what happens if the world is completely painted in blue?”

“You can say the world will wither and eventually die. The blue colour represents sadness. No one is able to survive from a pool of sorrow.”

It all now makes sense to Bran why they’re so scared. He understands for he has been living all his life under the shadow of his father dictator personality. A life without being able to paint. A life without colours. It’s the same as living in blue.

Lizzy looks to the distant. Her eyes are wet with tears. “And the only part left that is not tainted is the extension area of Dove’s painting.”

“What?! Why didn’t you tell me?

“I was about to before the attack.”

“Then how?”,he looks at Lizzy both desperate and dreadful, “How do I repaint The Blues?!I can’t even repaint that cubism creature!”

“I wish I know. I wish I can help you. I’m sorry.” Lizzy sobs.

Bran exhales a long sigh. His head downwards.

“But I still believe in you.”

Bran’s eyes widen as he hears Lizzy’s words. They both gazes at each other and the feelings being transmitted are warm and tender. A smile glistens across her face, suddenly, all of her being shows how defenceless she is. Turns out, she is the one who is bluffing. Her strong appearance is fake and Bran finally sees through her. She is but a girl of his age who is frightened by the idea of death.

Lizzy’s cheeks blossom expressing her embarrassment. She looks away from Bran who chuckles at her reaction. But that happiness only lasts for a brief moment. The question goes through his head again. How does he repaint The Blues?

She believes him and now, he is the one who is afraid that he may not be able to help them. In fact, after the accident with the cubism creature, he becomes reluctant to use his ability to paint. The paintbrush emerges from specks of light in his hand again. At least now he knows how to summon it. He just has to think about wanting to paint and it appears.

Bran sighs. “How do I repaint him?”

“With how you are right now, you won’t be able to.”

Bran looks up and sees Dove standing in front of him. As usual, she is stroking the dove in her arm.

“What do you mean by that?” he asks.

“You know soon enough The Blues will be coming here because this is the last area. Not their pawn this time, but the leader himself. And trust me, if you don’t break away from yourself, you’ll end up with the same fate as the rest of us.”

“I don’t get it. What are you not telling me?”

“It’s useless to explain it to you. When the time comes, you’ll understand.”

“It’ll be too late by then.”

“It won’t. Dove’s right. You have to face him yourself to understand.” says Lizzy.

Bran heaves a heavy sigh. He feels like he’s the only one in the shadow.

“Just remember, Bran. You are not alone and we believe in you for a reason. And that reason is because it is you.” says Lizzy.

Dove and Lizzy smile at him and for the first time in a long time, Bran once again feels home and secured. The loads in his heart slowly disappearing. They’re just words but for him, it is more than he ever received.Perhaps it’s foolish of him to be easily swayed by the word “believe” but who’s blaming him? All his life, he has only tasted the hollow of loneliness. The fake feelings that he has been taught all his life. But now as it turns out, this new and unbearable feelings is able to fill his cup with a single pour.

He has yet to understand what Dove means but he trusts her words and that eventually he’ll find a way. He goes to his bed and drifts away to the world of his own.

It starts with a single heartbeat that pulls Bran to consciousness, though his eyes are too heavy to open. His entire body feels weak. Cold sweat runs down his cheek as he struggles to think. Suddenly, he smells the sweet fragrance of Hydrangea combined with the scent of bitter herbs.

Lyria.

With all the strength he has left, he tries to drag his body across the living room. Reaching the front door, he sees a couple of hydrangeas and pieces of herbs lying on the floor as well as dark blue paint coming from beneath the door. Bran touches the blue paint that has dried out and his entire body shakes.

His feet wobble as he opens the door only to find the area has been completely painted in the shades of blue. His tears begin to flow and suddenly, grief floods his heart. He wipes off his tears confusedly. Then, he looks down at his feet. The blue colour has begun to spread to his thighs.

Instead of worrying about the blue, Brandon is more worried about his body. He feels strange. His body really feels like it can give up at any moment. Pain constantly ricochets to his head that leaves him feeling nausea.

“It hurts, doesn’t it?”

Bran jolts to the side. A man is sitting on the bench, crossing his legs. He’s wearing a black pants and a white shirt underneath his black tux, and a top hat on his head. This man is only coloured with two shades, light orange almost salmon, and a hint of blue.

“So, Bran. Can you guess who I am?”

Amidst his blurry vision and weak breathing, he tries to identify him through his appearance.

Les Noces de Pierrette. You’re the man from that painting. The only one who wears a top hat.”

He smiles sinisterly. It sends chill down Brandon’s spine.

“I like you, Bran. You’re smart.” he says. “Unfortunately, I hate a painter.”

“Where are my friends?”

“You see, Bran, painters are selfish. The only thing they care about is finishing their works. Expressing all their feelings through their arts so that their heart may remain at ease.”

Bran scoffs. “They don’t even know that it’s possible for their arts to have their own world.”

The man stands up. “But Picasso knew. And what did he do? He created us. We spend the days feeling only remorse, continuously crying, sometimes feeling an incredible amount of hatred and we begin questioning everything but the answer remains void. We saved him from all the feelings he couldn’t bear but did he save us? No, he didn’t!”

Tears drop from the edges of Bran’s eyes.

Trust me, if you still haven’t break away from yourself right now, you’ll end up with the same fate as the rest of us.

Bran begins to understand what Dove meant that night. It is so silly that he laughs at himself.

“What’s so funny?” the man asks.

“Well, I guess we’re similar.”

The man raises an eyebrow, looking rather confused.

“We’re both trapped inside our shadows that we thought was someone else. So, we keep blaming this someone. You keep blaming Picasso and I keep blaming my father. When in the end, it’s us who give up everything.”

The man chuckles softly.

“I did try everything that I could. I did try to become better. Every day I had to wake up drinking in my own sorrow. But the glass is never empty but instead overflows. Now tell me boy, if fighting is still the answer.”

“No.” Bran smiles weakly, “Fighting was never the answer but, acceptance.”

“Acceptance?”

“Yes. Accept that you’re sad. Accept that you’re angry. But most of all, accept that you’re a broken being born in the blue side of the world. You are the part that is needed to complete the imperfection, human. You are the essence of humanity.”

“You’re saying that I should just accept it and be miserable for the rest of my life? In that case, I choose to never accept it. I choose power.”

Bran once again smiles, “I guess this is where we are different.”

The man tries to grab him when Bran smacks his hand and shoves him. Bran’s body swings back and smashes the railings of the porch. He quickly summons his paintbrush and before his body touches the blue grass, his paintbrush grazes the ground first and the grass turns green again. His breath is caught up in his throat causing him to cough continuously. The man stands by the edge of the porch and stares down at him.

“Go ahead, repaint the area and we’ll see who’ll be the last one standing.”

Bran looks at him with a puzzled expression.

“Ah, they didn’t tell you, did they? How your paintings can come to life.”

He shakes his head weakly and the man laughs.

“The power comes from your life energy. Every painting that you create, it takes a little piece of your soul. The more your imagination grows and the painting expands, more life energy will be taken from you.”

Fear begins to creep into his heart as he hears the man’s explanation. Everything has become clear now. Why his body gave up when he tried to repaint the cubism creature. The short breath and the pain travelling throughout his body. They’re all signs of him passing his limits.

A drop of tear falls from his eye but a smile decorates his face. The colour begins to expand and heading towards the man.

“You! Even after knowing it. Why?”

Bran hauls himself up into a sitting position. “They believe in me. And that is more than enough.”

The man directs his palm towards the colours and the blue pushes the colours back. Just then, Lizzy jumps at the man and locks his head with her arm. She tightens her grip, chocking him. The colours push the blue back again. The man struggles to pull her arm away and as he grabs her arm, the blue spreads on her skin.

“Liz! stop!” Bran with all his strength drags his body towards Lizzy.

Although half of Elliot’s body has turned blue, he marches to his sister’s side. He smacks the man’s feet with Lizzy’s wrench. As his knees drop to the ground, the man grabs Elliot by the neck and the blue continues to paint the rest of Hogwash body. Lizzy chokes him even tighter to make him release her brother.

Suddenly, from behind Bran, a light shine towards Lizzy and Elliot. Lyriauses her power to delay the spreading of the blue on their bodies.

Bran quickly gets up and as he stands before the man, he swings his paintbrush. A line of vibrant colour emerges and erases the blue on the man’s body. Then, the colour spreads across the world. All shades of blue are slowly lifted and new vibrant colours repaint the world. It’s once again a world filled with hope and wondrous imaginations.

The man’s body shatters into thousands of colourful butterflies and they fly across the horizon. The blue on Lyria’s, Lizzy’s, Elliot’s, and Brandon’s body has also disappeared.

As blood flows out from his nose, Brandon drops to the ground and at the same time, the world trembles. The sky cracks and has slowly begun to shatter. But despite that, all they care about is Brandon. Lizzy rests his head on her lap.

“What’s happening?” Bran asks weakly as he looks at the world collapsing.

“Sstt…be quiet. Save your energy, Bran.”says Lizzy, “Lyria, hurry. Cure him!”

But, Lyria just stays there beside her. She sobs.

“She can’t. He’s not injured. His life source has depleted. We can’t restore a life, Liz.” says Elliot.

Lizzy shakes her head. Her tears begin to flow. “There has to be a way. Please! Dove, do something!”

“There is something.” says Dove.

The three of them turn to Dove, eyes filled with hope.

“We can give him our life source.”

“No.” Bran tries to get up but his body quickly springs back to the ground. Lizzy looks at Elliot, then Lyria. Lyria smiles and so does Elliot.

“It’s okay, Bran. I’m willing.” says Lyria.

“No. Stop.”

“You save us. And now, we’re saving you.” Lyria strokes Bran’s hair, “It was short. But meeting you was a blessing. Take care, Bran.”

A spark of light exits Lyria’s body and she returns into paint. Her life source floats into Bran’s body and he could feel his body warming up.

Elliot draws closer and holds Bran’s hand. His blue eyes searching into his soul. Then, he smiles. “Now, it’snot broken anymore.”

“Elliot, please don’t do this. This is foolish.” says Bran, his breath’s agitated.

“Look around you, Bran. We’re dying anyway.”

Bran looks at the crumbling sky and he could also feel the ground melting. The cracks in Elliot’s and Lizzy’s face as paint trickles from it.

“It’s okay, Bran. You fought for us. Let us return the favour.”

Elliot’s life source flows out from his body and seeps into Bran. Elliot returns into paint. Bran bites his lower lip as he squeezes Lizzy’s hand. Amidst her cry, she giggles.

“It’s time, Bran.”

He smiles and they laugh together.

“Thank you, Lizzy, for fixing my heart.”

“I told you I can fix anything.”

He laughs.

“Goodbye, Bran. Thank you for painting my world.”

Her life source escapes her body and merges into Bran’s. He watches as her body melts into paint and he cry until his eyes dry out. With that, Bran walks towards Dove. She extends her arm and a door appears out of thin air.

“Now you know what my ability is. I’m the bridge between the two worlds.”

Bran chuckles.

“Finally, you’re free from yourself.” says Dove.

“Yeah. Thank you, Dove.”

She smiles. Her life source exits her body and enters into Bran’s. Then, she disappears with the rest of them. Tears dampen his cheeks. Without looking back, he goes through the door.

As he steps into his world, in front of him stood a man facing the window. His back sturdy and lies in his hand, a wooden cane with silver handle. His rigid posture showing his dignity and unbending principle. This was the figure that used to haunt Bran for as long as he could remember. Now, with a steady step, he approaches him.

“Father.”

The man turns around and his cold eyes meet Bran.

“We need to talk.”

****

The wind whistles as it carries a falling leaf into the room. It drops at the feet of the cabinet which is filled with many prestigious awards linings in an orderly fashion. Just at the middle of the room, an easel stands facing towards the door. The canvas with a painting of a group of people – a little boy with blue eyes, a handy girl, a gardener, child with a dove, and a fifteen-year-old boy. At the lower corner of the canvas, a message was written.

“I was lost in the World of Picasso with you.” – Brandon Loissel.