He stands at the easel like he always does, sizing up the canvas. Smooth, pure white stares back at him, almost taunting. The canvas has nothing to be cocky about–it is at the man’s mercy and everyone, including the plastic palette, knows this.

Selecting a thin, wooden paintbrush, the painter begins his work. Bursts of blues and greys leak onto the canvas; greens and purples splash character on the white. He dots black paint in the corners and traces a beige figure in the center. Time has stopped for the artist. Seconds and minutes fall away like rain and he stands soaking in it, completely unaware. There is nothing surrounding him. He is alone, unconscious of the sounds and the spinning of the Earth. Lost in the beauty of creating, he drops his hand only when a clear, calm voice startles him.

“Mr. Bernown?” a young woman asks. “What are you doing down here?”

The artistic magic has faded. His mind is fuzzy and distant. “I was… Who are you?” he asks. His voice feels rough.

The woman gives him a sympathetic smile. “I’m Anna, your caretaker. Don’t you remember?”

“Anna…” he repeats. A section of his mind clears and his eyes brighten. “Of course. Anna.”

“Oh, look, your hands are shaking,” she says, and she takes the paintbrush out of his hand. He looks down–they’re trembling. They are old man’s hands.

“Why…?” he tries to ask, but then he remembers. Parkinson’s.

“I’ve been looking for you for a long time,” Anna says. “What have you been doing?”

“I was…” He looks at the canvas. White stares back. “…painting,” he finishes.

“But sir, there’s no paint here.”

“Yes, I–” He stops talking. There had been paint there. He had painted the entire canvas…hadn’t he?

“I think you should come upstairs and rest, Mr. Bernown. Is that okay?”

He frowns, looks back at the canvas, and follows Anna upstairs.


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