Exclusive Excerpt from Complementary Colors
by Adrienne Wilder
The light from the neighboring buildings drew outlines around the curtains and left highlights across my body, creating a ghostly image in the mirror above my bed.
“I want to see you again.” The echo of Roy’s voice created ripples of color across the static of black. Normally nightmares kept me awake, not the memory of man’s touch, the scent of his flesh, or how he looked at me.
The weight those thoughts created in my chest wasn’t unfamiliar only forgotten. Then in that moment, there in the solitude, a sliver of happiness rose through years of darkness and neared the surface. A precious memory from a time before the screaming inside my head spilled out into the world. Sometimes it was like that, and those rare pieces of my past were treasures that gave me a reason to live.
I had to have it.
Every thump of my foot on the stairs fed the tide of yellows, reds, and oranges. Green followed me across the studio while ribbons of gold connected everything. The need for the brush in my hand burned hotter than carnal desires.
There were a half dozen canvases lined up on a shelf, most of them as wide as I was tall. Nothing I pulled from my thoughts could be contained on a smaller field.
I grabbed a clean palette and filled it with the rainbow droppings of brutalized tubes of paint. A clump of orange went directly on the canvas.
The fight to capture the moment began with blocks of color and lines of movement stitched together by negative space. Dark pushed the light. Colors hummed at the edges. Gradient shades took blistering hues into the background and shoved the rest to the edge.
I carved through the layers of oils until I gasped for air, dimples formed in the calluses on my fingers, my shoulders burned, and cramps twisted the muscles in my back. My sweat fell like tears, mixing with the paint.
“The image emerged from the mass of color. A boy. A smile. Kind eyes. I searched for more of him, but there was only the sunlight through broken leaves. It covered him in glorious fragments of golden light.
I’d held his hand. I’d cherished his laugh. His lips had been soft against mine.
What was his name?
I didn’t deserve him after what I’d done, but maybe on some deep level, I hoped by honoring the moment before the darkness he’d forgiven me, and I’d be granted peace.
It wasn’t unusual for me to pass out after completing a work. Tearing off pieces of my soul was not only painful but exhausting. At least when I fell asleep, I didn’t dream.