The World by Shaima Saleh

Posted on May 22, 2011 by

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“A little bit more black here…” She said while gripping the black marker with her long, lanky fingers. She vigorously filled that piece of paper with dark shades; shades that mirrored the void in her soul, shades that brought her pathetic existence comfort. She wanted that picture to be an exact representation of herself. She wanted to see herself there; she wanted – with the help of her talent and her imagination, and a little something called hallucinogenics, to create her own world.

She knew the trick. She knew how to master her drawings to the point of convincing herself that she actually lives in them. She knew she could since the age of 12. Born with the talent; check, locked up by the mother in a tiny closet with nothing that would enable suicide, nothing that she knew of; check, hallucinogenics, thanks to scouring the streets at 2 A.M.; check.

“And some grey underneath the black…” she talked to herself, already seeing the masterpiece unfolding in her mind. She could almost touch the run-down buildings, the wide streets, the dry, dead trees.

“Wait. What if I…?” A moment of sheer brilliance engulfed her. She hastily looked under her mattress amongst tens and tens of sheets of paper. “No, no, not this one,” she muttered to herself while throwing her countless drawings behind her back. “Where is it?!” She exclaimed as half her body was under the mattress and her arms stretching out the other side.

“Ah, finally, you bitch!” She said when she found the drawing she spent about 10 minutes looking for. Her eyes gazed at the colorful drawing she created when she was 10. The colors almost hurt her eyes. The happiness of that drawing suffocated her. The world in that painting was a world her current self couldn’t fathom. Sunshine, brightness, happiness, joy, love; all those beautiful things were stirring feelings within her she thought she silenced years ago.

She remembered creating this world; it was a promise to a sick friend. She promised him that she would heal him with her colors. She worked on it day and night for 5 days. She was ecstatic with the result; her tender strokes of the brush gave away the impression that an expert created that beauty before her eyes. She remembered her tiny hands wrapping the drawing clumsily with leftover gift wraps, her bright green shoes as she walked down the street on her way to the hospital, and her tears on the floor when his mother told her she couldn’t see him anymore. All the anger, the frustration, the pure hatred she had at that moment for the unjust world came back flooding her senses, filling her with rage.

Without thought, she ripped apart the masterpiece she had been working on for hours, placed her 7-year-old drawing in front of her, and stood staring at it. She didn’t know how much time had passed with her standing there and staring, but her legs felt numb. It was a change from the usual numbness that governed her soul. The new feelings she just went through triggered her to reach for her old abandoned shoe box of colors. She finally had feelings, true feelings. Not like those hazy hallucinogenic-induced feelings. She reached for the box, basically ripped it open, and stared at the colors. Her hand then reached for them; it felt as if her fingertips were drinking the colors up.

She felt high, and she wanted more. She touched them, held them, smelt them. But that wasn’t enough. She needed to live in them. She wanted happiness, even if it was fake. She wanted it.

“This… This is going to be fucking beautiful.” She said, determined. She set out to move everything from the floor. Her things were hidden in the drawers, and whatever couldn’t fit was thrown away. The world she was about to create was going to be her greatest achievement so far. A piece of paper, no matter how humongous, was ridiculous compared to this world. Her canvas was the floor. She spilled the colors on the floor, tied her long brown hair back, took her oversized shirt off, and started painting.

“Blue. A lot of blue, because it used to be my favorite color.” She murmured while she spilled 2 bottles of blue acrylic coloring on the floor. She spread the color around with her fingers, getting intoxicated with the feeling. “And green, yes, he loved green, I remember his toy cars; they were all green.” But as she was about to spill the color on the floor she paused;

“Why am I settling for his favorite color?” She asked herself, “Why not him? With a lot of green around him.”

She got her marker and started tracing his face as she remembered on the floor. His kind eyes, his welcoming smile, his weird nose. She got lost in the memories of her best friend. She started thinking about his laugh, his face when he was upset, how he used to jump instead of walk. She caught herself smiling. She forgot how it felt like; smiling to her was a new sensation. She continued drawing Jimmy while she was smiling, and when she was done, she poured a generous amount of green all around him. Then came the red – for joy, and the yellow  – for sunshine, and the pink – for candy, and the orange – for drinks, and the purple – for their favorite chewing gum.

When she was done, she stood up and looked at it. “Beautiful,” she said, “I knew it would be.” She stared a little longer and said, “Now that I’ve created it, I shall live it.” She changed into the only dress she owned: a beautiful white dress. She pulled her hair down, put on some lipstick, and sprayed on some perfume. She then reached for her bag of hallucinogens.

“You are going to make me fucking happy, got it?” She said talking to her bag. She grabbed what she needed, tilted her head back, and shoved it down her throat.

“Here it is, Clara, here it comes; the happiness you’ve always longed for.” She said talking to herself. She kneeled down and stared at the drawing. She felt the hallucinogens kick in. She started living. She could smell the moist air; she could feel it swirling under her dress. She could see the people she drew walking by and chatting, she could see the rays of sun streaming down the kids’ faces.

She is now in her world. In her world, she’s meeting Jimmy by the bakery they used to stop by on their way back from school. She fixed her hair, smoothed down her dress, and confidently marched to the bakery. She took a deep breath before opening the door, closed her eyes, and then opened it. He was standing there, all grown-up with a light beard and a large frame of body. He smiled at her tenderly, inviting her to him. She, without thought, rushed into his arms. She pushed her face into his chest, smelling him. Her hands almost scratched his back from squeezing so hard.

“I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you so much I forgot how to be.” She started sobbing. She held him to her with all her might. She wouldn’t let him go. She couldn’t. Who would lose life after searching for it for years? Not her. Not someone as lost as her. She held him for longer, and longer. She was just relishing in his presence, until she felt her arms weaken. She tried harder, but her arms were failing her.

“Not now, God not now.” She tried harder, but to no use. She snapped back to reality, quickly snatched her bag, and devoured what was left in it. She was back with Jimmy, but not at the bakery. They were at the hospital; he took her to his doctor to reassure her that he Jimmy was okay. She was bursting with happiness. She didn’t know whether to sing, dance, jump, scream; she was just happy. She stood there looking at him. He was perfect. Angelic. She looked beautiful. The world she created was perfect. The happiness she felt was overwhelming. 

It was wrong. She can’t be happy. She doesn’t deserve to be. She’s a pathetic form of existence that wouldn’t exceed its mania and its suicidal tendencies. She needed to fix this. She knew she deserved neither happiness nor misery. She deserved nothing. Even her previous miserable worlds were too beautiful for her. As the realization hit her, her beautiful world started fading away. Jimmy’s face was no more. The colors were no more. She firmly held a blue sharp marker to her neck and said, “Thank you Jimmy. Thank you for letting me know what a smile is.”

With that, she pushed the marker down her skin, and swiftly slid it across her neck. Clara’s blood across the floor was her last masterpiece.

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