Up, down, up down. Louise watched as her daughter Miranda laughed happily on the swing.
“Higher mummy, higher!” she squealed in delight in her high little voice.
But Louise was barely able to smile at her own daughter’s happiness. She barely had enough energy to push her. In fact she barely had enough to do anything anymore. She was conscious of her existence but everything else seemed alien to her.
It had almost been a year to the day that he had left her standing motionless in the hallway leaving only his wedding band as a memory. He had cupped his face in her hands and kissed her gently.
“I’m sorry honey, but it will be better for both of us.”
Of course it was better for you, she thought now. But what about me? Did you ever consider me?
She fingered the ring on a chain around her neck; it was smooth to her touch.
She couldn’t beat to cast it aside even though it was a heavy weight pulling her down and killing her inside.
Then there was Miranda.
She had been there when he left.
“Please don’t go, Daddy,” she had cried and had clung tightly to his leg
“Mummy needs you.”
Louise was even now surprised that she knew what was going on. But then she had always been smart. She was walking at six months and said her first one at one.
It was one of those memories that brought tears to her eyes even now.
He would usually be here right now watching Miranda on the swing, face full of affection, a love that could not be put into words.
But now the picture was incomplete. He wasn’t here. She was alone. She’d always appreciated the colours of the world but now it was like everything was black and white.
She let go of the swing and sat down in the sand.
The swing slowed down and Miranda looked at her sadly.
“Haven’t you had enough already?”
She sighed and heaved her body up, brushing off grains of sand as she did so.
“Five minutes more and then we go home, okay?”
Louise mustered the energy to push her again.
If only she could see the light again and live a life that once was.
At the moment she couldn’t. It was just impossible. She wanted to live in darkness. In a world where no one could hurt her anymore.
It was Miranda who woke her up early next morning.
“Come on, Mummy, I don’t want to be late,” she said excitedly.
“Alright,” Louise grumbled.
It was Miranda’s first day at kindy. A day she would have been proud to see her daughter go into a new environment. But again he wasn’t there.
She wanted Miranda to be a part of her dark world as selfish as it seemed.
But Miranda was oblivious to her mother’s dismay. She just wanted to have fun and make her mummy proud.
She was only five but already she had understood that her father wasn’t coming back.
Louise felt stupid. If a five year old can get through this ordeal then why can’t I? She wondered as she pulled into the school grounds.
She parked in between a range rover and an old commodore and led Miranda to the kindy gates.
“Bye, Mummy!” she yelled as she ran inside.
Louise turned around and walked back to the car. She couldn’t bear to see all those smiling faces.
Mums and dads looking at each other affectionately as they watched their children go into the big world, interacting with other children for the first time.
She could have been one of them.
She drove away from the school. That was better, she didn’t feel alienated now. She could be alone.
She drove past and art store, a place she used to go with him.
They used to look at the pictured in there, laughing at the obscurity of some of them and chatting to Chrissie and Paul who owned the store.
She looked at it sadly.
Why not? She thought and spun her wheels around at a roundabout.
A car tooted its horn at her.
“Oh leave me alone,” she retorted angrily.
She switched off the engine and walked into the store.
Disappointment showed on her face as she realised that Chrissie and Paul weren’t in today.
Instead a young man aged mid-20s was behind the counter counting money. He looked up when he heard the bell ring.
“Hello, are you looking for anything?”
She ignored him and browsed through the pictures. Memories flooded back into her mind. He noticed her sad expression and looked down at the new picture that had just come in. Maybe it would cheer her up.
He took it over to her cautiously.
Experience with other customers had taught him to expect anything.
She saw him approach.
“You look like you need cheering up.”
Oh great, yet another person trying to feel sorry for her.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
She said it rather harshly.
He looked rather taken aback
“You know talking about things always helps.”
“I said I’m fine, leave me alone.”
He handed her the picture.
“Here this may help if I can’t.”
She took it without looking at it.
He walked back to the counter shaking his head. Some people were hard to please.
Louise was ready to give the painting back when she noticed words written at the bottom: Color My World - Alex Tripper.
Above it on one side there were pictures of yellow stars glowing above a landscape.
The artist had contrasted colors.
There was a river with a bridge over it. One side of the river was colored dark blue and the other was light blue. He had done the same with the bridge except using two different shades of brown,
Every single part of the painting had contrasted dark and light colours,
It may have seemed odd to some people but Louise was captivated by it. She could not ignore the simple beauty of these contrasted colors. It was something she’d managed to avoid in the past year but now she was faced with it she could not manage to peel her eyes away from it. The words and the picture put together seemed to question her, give her a message. It somehow defined her feelings within the past year.
A smile twitched at the corner of her mouth.
It was the first time she had smiled in months.
She strode up the counter.
“I’ll buy this, thanks.”
He smiled at her.
“Thought it might help. Don’t worry, you can keep it, it is a priceless work of art.”
“You know what? You’re right, thanks.”
She walked out with the picture under her arm, finally seeing some light within the dark.
Alex Tripper went back to counting the money. He smiled. Somehow he knew she had deserved to keep his painting. He had painted it for someone like her.