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Vignettes Regarding the Artwork of Brendon Kotes

XLII: Yesteryears

Mr. Wexlar’s person habitat was a turn-in for the end of November, right before the holiday. He turned a critical eye to Brendon’s canvas, narrowed gaze darting over the haphazardly thrown scarves across the back of Aunt Laurel’s couch, like an out-of-order rainbow with tassels and beads and trailing threads. He coughed lightly when he turned the painting toward the ceiling light, shadows escaping across the chimes hanging just inside the window, the plant below curling downward in a modest bid to dress itself. A draping of glittering strands hung within the hallway and tied up to either side of the extra wide kitchen doorway.

“And what’s this?”

Brendon leaned in. “Aunt Laurel’s mirrors.”

Eight of them to be exact—Brendon had counted and shifted around to get the reflections just right, the glare of the sun making two of them sheens of blinding light.

“Interesting. Seeing her world double. I like that you used that wall.”

“It’s about perspective,” murmured Brendon, echoing the dogma Aunt Laurel had drilled into him.

“Yes, yes. Perspective. Very good. Go set it over there with the others.”

Brendon got five points off, but he never really understood why. He suspected Mr. Wexlar just wanted to be spiteful. Aunt Laurel, at least, fell head over heels in love with the canvas the moment she got her hands on it (never did get hung up in Mr. Wexlar’s classroom—that honor went to Tonya Midgarner and her—admittedly good—painting of her brother’s mechanic shop, complete with empty soda cans, candy wrappers and a weight bar with a layer of dust).

“You’ve added to my abode,” said Aunt Laurel. They’d been sitting in her living room, his feet on the couch, his gaze probably as difficult to pin down as a rabbit. “These strands in the hallway doorway, I’ve always talked about getting them and here they are, all strung up. And this gorgeous view out the window,”—she chuckled—“I wish my neighbors weren’t in the way of the trees like they are in real life.”

“It was a habitat,” muttered Brendon, “so I figured I’d do it like you wanted, you know. Like you always talk about.”

“You’ve got an eye on you, darling. An eye that sees more than just the world. But in here.” She pressed a fist against her chest, her fingers disappearing into the fabric of her scarf, then she reached across the empty space between them and pressed that same fist against his chest. “Right there. Like you see the soul of a person.”

He could still feel the weight of her hand against his chest and hear her voice. If someone had asked him what moment stood out as the day he first believed in magic—this would be the day. Her wind chimes tinkling softly, the wind scouring the walls outside, the smell of her infuser something with cinnamon or clove for the holidays. Her smile serene, gentle, awe-filled.

Of course, just because that day stood out, just because it was the moment the synapses in his brain would pull free when asked that question, didn’t make it suddenly the true answer even if he thought it so.

Because Brendon believed earlier than that. A lot earlier. In fact, there didn’t exist a single painting, a single drawing, a single artistic endeavor done by Brendon Kotes that had not been done with a breath of magic in its core.


Next Chapter: XLIII