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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

XVIII: Yesteryears

When Brendon bought his first canvas—cheap, came in a package of ten—he sat in front of his easel and stared at the white for an hour. He’d mix a color on his plastic palette, dip his brush, hold it aloft, then frown, consider, and clean the brush off. Chewed on the end of the handle until the red paint of the plastic flecked off into his mouth.

He had nothing to show but wasted paint when his mom came to tell him it was dinner time. Shame crept into his soul, prickly pain that poked and prodded at places he didn’t understand.

All around his room hung cars—Firebirds and Camaros and Le Mans, close-ups of engines and exercises of chassis—and superheroes—spandex and magical swords and high tech gadgets—but none of them inspired him. Not like they did Casey or Robbie.

That night, he ended up painting a vase with daffodils and tulips as a mother’s day gift. His mom liked it enough she hung it in the entranceway, right where every visitor would see it, where every knocking stranger couldn’t miss.

The tulips had been lopsided, the daffodils all facing the same direction and the vase had a mistake in perspective along the left-side’s curve. But only Brendon saw these things. The abundance of flaws, his mother called it, right before she kissed his forehead and told him that she had an abundance of flaws too and didn’t he still love her?

He did. So he made her more: a crescent moon over a hay field (hung in the dining room), the swing she’d had under an ancient sycamore growing up (her bedroom), her vanity in shades of gold and gray where she claimed magic happened, more with each passing year (propped against the very same vanity). The highchair Brendon and each of his siblings before him had used, now empty and clean, waiting for grandchildren in the back of the downstairs closet (kitchen, naturally).

Every one had an abundance of flaws. And every one was perfect.


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