The park welcomed her as she stepped onto the walking path. Even here she restrained herself. Trapped within the decorum prescribed by society, she walked a straight line, followed the normal dictates. Breathing in the scent of the wildflowers, she lost herself into the scenery and the music playing through her headphones. Her dreams started to come alive. The stories awakened as she took each step. Lost in the story she started to twirl in the embodiment of her main character, captivated by the magic. Hesitation then societies rules stepped in. She marched forward. A pair of walkers walked by and waved as they passed one another. People would not understand the free spirit, she told herself. She repressed the skip. She curtailed the dance. This was a place for walking. Then the wind swirled around her. Laughing, she embraced the dance and twirled with it.
[This was written in response to VisDare 140. Photo credit: 50 Best Black and White Photos.
“This is Frankie signing off of FM103.” The radio crackled in the background as Avery diligently laid down the line work for her latest painting. Late nights were starting to make her days and nights run together. The radio helped to keep her in touch with reality.
Allie knew to avoid Avery when she was in a painting frenzy. She liked her space and solitude. She would bump into Allie in the kitchen from time to time and Allie would smile but wouldn’t speak unless Avery initiated the conversation. They had learned each other’s habits back in college and had latched onto one another because so few actually understood them.
Avery laid the pencil down and glared at the radio as the static crackled across the airwaves. “This is what I get for preferring the old school radio rather than digital delivery methods.” She picked up the radio, tilting it as she reached for the dial. Then startled, she heard a voice.
“I..I don’t know if anyone can hear me. I need (static) can someone (static) please.” That was it. Shortly after, the radio station resumed. Avery quickly wrote down the frequency she was on and the message. This couldn’t wait until morning. Grabbing her cell, she dialed the police to report the odd frequency interruption.
The counter of Debbie’s Diner met with a number of encounters, friends bumping into one another sharing coffee or lunch. Cinna climbed onto the stool and asked for the special on a warm Tuesday afternoon. The headline on the paper next to her caught her attention: Information Sought on Missing Local Leader. “Odd,” she mused. She looked up to see Allison drop onto the next stool. “Oh, Allie…perfect timing.”
Glancing over at the paper, she answered, “That’s my next door neighbor. Police have been in and out of her house and yard for the last few days. They still haven’t figured anything out.”
“I know. We often take for granted how safe things seem in a small town.” She looked down at her scarred hands that often struggled at the simplest tasks. Years ago, a casual encounter of a different sort had devastating consequences. She survived by sheer force of will but her right hand had nerve damage from the stab wounds.
“By the way…have ya’ll thought about giving art lessons at the Gallery?” Her therapist suggested she take art classes to help rehabilitate the fine motor skills she lost from the attack and to help her start sorting through her struggles.
Allie turned her full attention on Cinna. “What a brilliant idea! It would help us gain interest in the community, provide some constructive outlets, and bring in a few extra dollars to help us get things started!”
“Yes…and I am a little selfish, though. I was hoping it would help my hands. But I’d hate to paint clumsily in front of strangers. At least…” she paused, taking a breath. “At least you know my story.”
Allison softened her attention. “Of course. I would love to teach you.” Their conversation continued discussing plans and times while they enjoyed their lunch. Leaving the diner, Cinna knew she had another person on her recovery team. Allison walked away with renewed purpose. The Gallery may meet more needs than she had anticipated. She couldn’t wait to talk to Avery.
Avery put the parking brake on and stepped from her old car. The car represented her well, with its well-worn handles and knobs, paint dulled and flecked down to the undercoat, tires that should probably be replaced. She shook out the long, blue broomstick skirt, a great find at the 6th Street Salvation Army Outlet. Staring down at the address scrawled across the page, she knew she had made it to the right place.
She took three steps towards the old building, when Allie popped through the old doors, large and impressive. “Can you believe this building is abandoned?” Her excitement lifted the lilt of her voice to a high pitch. Avery smiled at her friend’s sense of adventure.
“It is pretty amazing.” Quickening her step, she found herself inside the old fire station. The massive lower level would have housed at least two engines back in its heyday. Now, the garage sat empty and wide open.
“Can you see it yet?” Allie went on, lost in the dream. “This would be the gallery. We can set up a sandwich café in the center.” Sweeping around the room, she darted around pointing out one zone or the next. Avery had to admit that it was a great plan if they could find the backing.
“Oh, wait until you see the next level!” The spiral staircase carried them upstairs. “We can live and work up here! There is enough room for a shared kitchen and living area, bedrooms, and studios.” Avery carefully walked around the rubble to look into the different nooks and crannies. The plumbing was old, she could see. It would need some major rehabilitation. Still, the dream…she could not abandon the dream. It could happen.
Abandoned Artists: Studios and Gallery
“I love it, Allie.” The look of joy, unrestrained, reminded her of why they were best friends.