CHAPTER 33, Growing Pains
“Gabby-doll,” he said, filling a bowl with water. “It’s a full moon out tonight. And I can hear your stones crying, ‘Energize me. Energize me.’”
That night, while Dad and I sat outside, talking about all the things we regretted, wishing upon the stars that all mean things said and done could be unsaid, undone, Ma painted the sky, not my sky, but some sky that evolved from her own mental landscape.
“Yeah, I see,” she had said, when I showed her two samples of skies she could choose from. Then she sat for an hour just studying them, one sky, a swirl of blue and white with a galactic effect; the other kind of a grayish-blue with streaks of gray and pink.
“Either one,” I had said. “The main idea is to make it look mystical like in my dream of crossing the bridge.”
“I love the blending,” she said, when Dad and I returned to the kitchen.
She had set the easel up on the kitchen counter and sat at the table admiring it from across the room. Aghast, I searched for words as I blinked at a fiery sky with black patches.
“Well, actually, you know, I don’t remember the sky being any particular color. I guess it was foggy and overcast, really. Maybe your sky better captures the dream than those pictures I showed you.”
“Yes, that’s what I was thinking,” she said, gloating. “I really love that sky. Now what colors do you think for the water? I know you said you wanted the water green but all I have is this shade,” she said, holding up a tube of St. Patrick’s Day green.
“I think you can get the effect I’m looking for if you mix it with black,” I said, pointing to the television set on the kitchen counter. “There. About the color of the television screen when it’s turned off, almost colorless. Then you can put the fog over it after the paint dries.”
I went to my room to get some writing done, and when I returned to the kitchen a few hours later, she had painted the water beautiful shades of blue and aqua.
“Wow,” I said. “But, um. I don’t know. I thought we agreed that the water would be dark green, almost colorless.”
“I don’t know,” she said.
“Look,” I said, getting annoyed.
I turned on the water faucet.
“See. What color is the water? It’s not blue. Water’s not blue. It’s colorless. When have you ever seen blue water?”
“I don’t know,” she said, massaging her scalp with her finger tips. “We had blue water in the crick I used to swim in as a child.”
“The blue was just a reflection of the sky. Anyway, that was a hundred years ago back before we polluted it. Besides, how can you have such radiant water under an overcast sky?”
“Well, I can paint over it again once it dries,” she sighed. “That’s enough for tonight.”
“No, actually, that’s all right, Ma,” I said. “Maybe if you can just tone down some of the blue. I really like the effect you’ve got going on, that dark blue patchy look in the water. So, it’s fine. Just tone down the brightest greens and blues and I think it’ll be great.”
When I went back to my desk, I thought she was going to bed.
But an hour later I could still hear the TV. When I went out to the kitchen, I was horrified. She had repainted the water, every last drop of it, with puke green.
“Ma! What did you do? I told you I liked the dark blue patches. You didn’t need to cover the whole thing.”
“You wanted green water. There’s green water.”
“What are you, colorblind? That’s not the color of the TV screen. That looks like—”
Don’t say puke. Don’t say shit.
She grabbed a rag and began scrubbing all the green paint off. I stood by helplessly, feeling guilty about frustrating her. By the time she finished, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It looked perfect.
“That’ll work! I love it. Now when you add the fog, it’ll be exactly what I had in mind.”
“I won’t add the fog until I finish the bridge cables,” Ma said.
“That’s a good idea,” I said, holding in my sigh until I was out of hearing range.