I paced around the small apartment in search of an idea. There was no inspiration under the cushions on the light blue couch. Nothing in the refrigerator except leftovers. I was just about to give up the search when I saw the sun glint off something on the dresser. I walked over and picked it up. It was a small, heart shaped locket. My heart ached when I saw it. I put the chain gingerly around my neck and slowly closed the clasp. When I looked in the mirror, I remembered a day when I would never have taken it off. In silence I unhooked the clasp and put the locket in the bottom of a drawer. Before I closed the drawer, I opened up the locket and took a quick glance at the photo inside. Those piercing, green eyes still took my breath away, even after all these years.
Inspiration hit. I knew what would win the art show. I grabbed a brush and began painting. The deep chocolate brown hair that was always combed just right. The nose that was a bit big, but still belonged. All his features were immortalized on my canvas. Out of the corners of my eyes, I could see the sun moving across the floor as I toiled. The sun set with a brilliant display of colors, but I didn’t see it. The only response I gave to the sun’s goodbye gift was a flick of the switch to turn the light on. I continued to paint the face that haunted my dreams.
As I did it, I remembered the first time I saw him walk through the door. We were so close. People started to merge out names, and we received joint invitations to parties. We went everywhere together. His laugh was still vivid in my mind. He laughed a lot. When he laughed, his eyes, those green, haunting, piercing eyes, would light up like the bulbs on a Christmas tree. His lips would part, and his beautiful teeth would show, the teeth that had taken years of braces to make perfect, but perfect they were. I loved it when he laughed, and I almost laughed myself when I realized that my audience would never know exactly how he smiled when he laughed.
The day before the show, I finished my painting. I carried it to the art gallery, and I placed it on the stand that was reserved for my piece. I stepped back to look at my work. It looked just like him. I felt that familiar lump in my throat, and I blinked to clear my eyes. I just wished he could have seen it. He always thought his pictures came out badly, but this was a great portrait.
On the night of the art show, I stood proudly next to my piece. I watched people’s faces. They remarked aloud how much they liked my painting, but I could see another reaction in their eyes. They were confused about my subject. Of course, none of them would appreciate the boy in the painting. None of them would ever know why I had chosen to paint this boy, I half laughed, the boy who took my heart with him when he disappeared.