13. The artist:
Vincent stared at the shriveled ear that lay at his feet. It resembled a dead, hairless mouse; once a source of excitement as a treasured pet, but forgotten and abandoned as time flew by. He felt the blood dripping down the side of his face and wondered whether the pain would penetrate the shield of numbness. He felt nothing; his emotions had been severed. There was no shock at what he had done; no remorse. The ear seemed never to have been a part of him; it did not matter at all that it was lying there gathering dust on the terracotta tiles.
He ambled to the mirror, anxious to see his new image. A slightly lopsided face with dark unshaven cheeks and an unruly mop of red hair stared back at him. The image was that of a stranger within his own skin. He tore the mirror from the wall and carried it over to one of the paint stained easels. On the other he placed a clean, serene canvas. He gathered the tools of his trade; a wide flat brush, palette knife, tubes of rich oil paints, raw linseed oil, turpentine, and a palette. He arranged them on the work bench within easy reach. The stranger with the sad eyes should be captured, Vincent thought. This was the only way he could expose that which lay beneath his skin.
Under his deft hands the brush strokes became an image. The person hiding within the dark corner of his mind slowly became visible. He called him the other Vincent, being other than the present Vincent. This was a Vincent free from the dark shadow of depression and inexplicable rage, a man at peace, but not an artist. Was this version of him truly better than the one who battled daily mood swings and who dreamed in swirling colors? The Vincent who raged and screamed at the universe when his muse deserted him and he couldn’t lift a paintbrush for weeks on end? Could he ever be satisfied to live as the other Vincent?
He suffered for the sake of his art. He knew that the dark depths he swam at times made his canvases masterpieces. The very fact that part of his soul was captured on every paint splashed surface made them accessible to human beings. He kept the self portrait of the stranger with the dirty bandage wrapped around its head as a memento of this coming to terms with who he was; of the acceptance of his darker side.
Later, when Vincent died, this would become one of the more memorable pieces as it depicted man’s struggle to accept the character of his soul….
Word count: 446