Art is a poisonous berry. A delicious, sweet idea can evolve to be rotten and fatal. When the nightshade blossoms to be a poisonous obsession, it can deteriorate one from the inside. It was too late when Elijah Addington came to realize this.
Elijah Addington, 32, likes his coffee black but not too black with a dash of vanilla creamer and exactly a tablespoon of milk. Elijah Addington, always ties his left shoe before his right one. He always has to make an L shape with his index finger and thumb to differentiate between his left and right, even if he already knows which is which. He has to make sure, one can never be too sure. He puts the same white shirt on everyday with rainbows of colors splattered on it, and never washes it. He picks at the tiny hole on the right knee of his jeans when he sits at the window seat in the metro on his way to the art studio. He picks up a bagel at the cafe and pets the orange cat on the windowsill two times. On his way to the studio, he takes notes of people and the way their clothes fold. The way they walk. The subtle changes in people’s expressions. People would give him a weird look for staring too long, but Elijah was too disconnected to notice. The grainy texture of the pavement and the shape of the foliage poking through the cracks of the cement would catch his attention. He noticed the subtle lines running through the bark of a tree and mimicked it in the air with his finger. When he finally arrives at the studio, he warms up by painting the same vase of flowers that sits on top of a stool in the middle of the room. The studio was filled with different genres of paintings and cracked clay sculptures that no other eyes have ever seen besides Elijah’s. Abstract paintings with brains, flowers, and faceless people. Stepping into the room was like stepping into a surreal dream.
That morning, a pile of paper fell to the floor through the mail slot which kicked Elijah out of focus right when he was finishing up the broken stem of the yellow tulip. Flipping through the mail, a yellow flyer caught his attention. He slowly lifted it out of the pile and read “National Art Contest”. He slowly read it over 3 times and raised his eyebrows in intrigue. He then took a seat and his head bowed down staring at the yellow paper. Elijah had never received a direct invitation for an Art competition, he usually had to look for it. He held it carefully in his hand as if it were a prized possession.
“How would I even win this?” He looked up at his rejected paintings that covered the wall from floor to ceiling. “There’s no way I can enter this, it’s not worth it,” he said as he threw the paper in the trash bin.
Elijah paced around the room before retrieving the yellow flyer. “If I do this, it has to be bigger than me. Something completely different than what I’ve been doing. It has to stand out and shock people, even me!”
He lifted up a painting and stared at it before throwing it to the floor. “Something new, something no one would ever think of doing,” He continued to throw and pile up the paintings in the middle of the floor. This had to be grandiose and send a message. Should it be a painting? No, that’s too conventional. Watercolor? No, insufficient material. Clay? Too hard. Copic markers? No. Colored pencils? Crayons?? Elijah looked down at the hill of paintings and a small idea flickered in his mind. Something that could be crazy, but that’s what art is about, right? He lit up a lighter and a small flame flickered, “Everything has an end, time to begin again”. He gave a sigh and tossed the lighter into the pile. “I need to take risks, it’s all about risks right?”. Smoke reached out to the ceiling and filled the chamber before the pile erupted in flames. Sparks of the fire chipped off and floated around Elijah like confetti. Elijah smiled, “this just might be my masterpiece”.
Erick Buendia, from the DC area, is an aspiring artist, filmmaker, and writer. In his free time, he enjoys exploring new places and painting.