All I Need Pt. 05

byAnomic©

Theron was already at the small cafe near the beach when we arrived. He was a thin man who looked to be in his mid-forties, dressed in a simple t-shirt, shorts, and sandals. He stood up to greet me in an accent every bit as thick as Margaret's.

"Adam? Pleasure to meet you, sir. I am excited to work with you. Please, sit." He gestured to the table.

"Thanks." I sat down and found myself slightly taken aback by his pleasantness. A waiter brought a cup of coffee and took my order.

"I saw you once before at an art show at the university, but didn't get a chance to speak with you. I didn't know then that our paths would cross like this, or I would have been sure to introduce myself." He continued.

"Oh really? I'm sorry, but I don't remember seeing you there. No offense." I was surprised.

"It's quite all right, I was there early for only a few minutes and left soon after. But your work was a big part of why I was there."

"Mine?" I replied in genuine surprise. I had been looking around at the architecture of the buildings that surrounded us, but now he had my full attention.

"Jeff has spoken highly of you, Adam. He insisted that I should see your work and I happened to be in town for business at the time of the show. I came by and saw the ones you had displayed. I was quite impressed. I even bought one of your pieces, you'll see back at my studio."

"Wow. Thank you so much." I didn't know what else to say. A famous, successful artist had actually liked one of my paintings enough to buy it. I was blown away.

"Which painting, may I ask?" I was really curious now.

"I believe it was titled 'Judgment'. A haunting black and white piece. It resonated with me on a deep level, although I only recently came to figure out why that might be." He gave me a careful look.

My initial excitement had faded visibly and he had seen it happen.

"You aren't a fan of the piece, I take it?"

"I almost didn't put it in the show. I don't like that one at all."

"Because you had a lot of emotion tied up in it, no doubt." He wasn't asking.

"Yeah, I was in a dark frame of mind when I painted that one. Bad memories." I fought to stay composed. The guilt and uncertainty of that night didn't hold a candle to the shit I felt now.

"Guilt. Shame. Fear. You can see it all in the design. It's a powerful piece, once you have most of the puzzle pieces in place to know what you are seeing."

"You took all that from that painting?" I felt really raw and exposed.

"I didn't at first. I just knew it resonated. Once Jeff told me about your relationship with your sister, it all made sense. It made me even more glad that I bought the piece. It will remain in my collection forever." He said as he watched me pale in shock. Margaret gave us both a small smile and stared thoughtfully at her salad.

"Dr. Miller told you about that?"

"You can relax, Adam. Your secret is safe."

I looked up at him, still in shock. Margaret reached over and took his hand on top of the table.

"Theron here is my brother." Margaret spoke up, smiling as she kissed the back of his hand. "And I've loved him since I was a small child."

"We have been together since we were in college ourselves. We fought it for a long time, but resisting our feelings for each other became too much to bear. Before finally accepting the love we felt for each other, Margaret was nearly suicidal, and I was on a self destructive path of a different variety. So we know very well how you feel."

"Holy shit." I leaned back in my chair.

"Sorry!" I added hastily, realizing I had cursed in front of my new employer.

"Don't be." He laughed. Margaret started snickering as well. "But you can see why Jeff thought you would benefit from working with me. Both for your art and your life. And hopefully you can understand why I might be able to recognize the pain you felt when you painted 'Judgment'."

I nodded.

"Jeff told us what happened with you. I'm sorry you experienced such harsh rejection by your family. Our own situation was much different. We were orphaned when our parents died in a plane crash many years ago. They never knew about us. Our extended families were another matter entirely." Margaret spoke up, giving my arm a sympathetic squeeze.

I fought to keep my tears in check. I had known these people less than an hour and already found myself with all of my cards on the table. I was a raw, broken, shell of a person with nothing more to hide.

"Hopefully, you can find some comfort and happiness here with us. We want to help you however we can. And I meant it when I said I was a fan of your work. I really am looking forward to working with you." Theron sounded sincere.

"I can't believe this. This whole situation." I looked out at the beach, taking in the beautiful blue water. It seemed impossibly blue.

"It's a lot to take in." Theron agreed. "When Jeff called me, I knew I had to try to help. It's not often that you meet someone who's gone through a situation as unusual as ours."

"I imagine not." I chuckled for the first time in weeks. "I can't believe you are fan of my stuff."

"Why not? You have talent, Adam. You aren't well known to the art world yet, but that will change with time." He sounded certain when he said it, as if it were a fact and not a pipe dream.

* * *

Theron led me through a large work space. The walls and ceiling were stone, making me ponder how old this place was. Large windows allowed natural light to flow through the room. Huge canvases, some as much as fifteen feet long, leaned against the walls. I had never painted on a surface that large and couldn't imagine how long it must take to paint something at that scale. He motioned to a short corridor the was set in one back wall. He hit a light switch and set one of my bags on by the doorway. I walked into the room and looked around. For a room made out of stone, the place looked rather comfortable. The walls were stone, painted white, and the only wood in the place was the furniture and door frames. There was a bed in a back corner, with an end table next to it. A work bench, book case, and closet made up the back wall. A small round table with two chairs was set in the center of the room. A simple and beautiful hand made vase was centered on the table.

"It's not much, but I think you'll find it comfortable." Theron said. "Feel free to repaint the place if you don't care for the color. This was the color that the house came with."

"I don't need a lot, really." I replied.

"There is a small kitchen over through this doorway here. And a bathroom through that door over by the corner. I'm afraid there's not a television out here, but we can take care of that soon." He continued.

"I can watch plenty of stuff on my laptop, there's really not a need for a TV. I don't really plan on watching much television anyway."

"Whatever you prefer is fine. If you decide you'd like a television out here eventually, we will be happy to help you with that. We would have set you up in the main house, but thought you might prefer the privacy that being out by the studio can provide."

"This is great, Theron. This is much better than I was anticipating. The way Jeff talked,, I expected that it would just be a bed in a corner and maybe a closet." I responded.

Theron nodded in response, but seemed pleased.

"I'll leave you to get settled in for a while then. I'm sure you are worn out from the flight and all." He turned and headed for the door, then paused. "Listen, I know you have been through a lot lately. If you ever want to talk about it, I'll be glad to listen. I imagine given the peculiar circumstances you have dealt with, there haven't been many people you can talk to about it."

"Thanks."

"Alright then. There's not much in your fridge out here right now, but Margaret will take you into town tomorrow to get you stocked up. When you are ready for dinner, come up to the main house and we'll go get something. I'm afraid neither of us are very good cooks. Especially when compared to the local cuisine."

With that, Theron left me in my new home. I sat at the small round table, pulled out my laptop and connected to the internet using the WiFi password Theron had given me. I checked Amy's facebook page and saw, as before, that nothing had been updated on it in weeks. I closed the laptop and sighed. There really wasn't much more I could do right now. Was it a mistake to come here? I couldn't stay back in Austin, I was going crazy there. I folded my arms, and put my head down. Too late now, either way.

* * *

The rocks felt insanely hot against the backs of my legs. I couldn't tell for sure, but it seemed like I was at least eighty or a hundred feet up. I had spent the last half hour climbing up the side of the rock formation overlooking the bay. The crystal clear, blue water below looked warm and inviting. The base of the rock outcropping to my right looked was what had originally commanded my attention, however.

I stood up, taking in the smell of the breeze blowing in across the water, and looked to the right. I felt hollow as I stared down at the rocks below that were so white that they looked like they were glowing. I felt a strange sense of relief at the thought of taking the jump. I chuckled bitterly at the idea that I'd leave behind one final painting of deep red on the white rocks below if I did it. Man, I have a fucked up sense of humor sometimes. I sighed heavily.

Is this really the kind of person I am? I kept asking myself this question. Ever since I had discovered this particular rock formation a couple of weeks before, it had continued to draw me back to it. The idea of feeling nothing felt so much better than feeling the hollowness that continued to plague me. Coming here hadn't solved that hollow feeling as I had hoped. I had always considered the idea of doing something like this to be cowardly, to be letting whatever you were facing win. But here I was, debating with myself whether or not I was the kind of person who would take the selfish route to relief. I was out of tears by now, and just felt drained and empty.

Here I was, sitting in one of the most beautiful places I had ever seen, feeling just about as lost as I ever had in my life. Not today, I finally thought to myself, I'm being irrational about this again. I turned back to the left over the water. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw movement. I glanced over and saw Margaret's small shape sitting on a boulder far below, about twenty yards away. She was watching me with what looked like a worried expression. It was hard to tell from this distance. Her small hand came up to wave at me. I waved back.

I stepped back a couple of yards then ran toward the cliff edge, launching myself out over the water as I'd done at least a dozen times since my arrival. There was that brief moment of panic, worrying that I hadn't kicked off the cliff side hard enough. Then came the all too brief half second feeling of weightlessness, followed by the rush of wind, just before the splash. I felt the warm water wash over me, air bubbles churned noisily all around me. I gathered my bearings, and propelled myself through the water in long strokes toward the surface. I broke through the water and felt the hot sun on my face, as I took a deep breath. I made my way to the shore a few moments later to find Margaret standing there with a towel in her hand.

"I know you don't believe it now, but it gets better Adam." She said sadly, handing me the towel.

"If you say so." I replied, wiping my face with the towel.

"I didn't believe it when people tried to tell me that, either. I don't blame you for doubting me. But I'm glad you decided to stick around a while longer. We love having you here." She commented, trying to hide the concern in her voice. She put a hand up to my shoulder and gripped it just a little. An attempt to be reassuring, I guess.

"Thanks. It just overwhelms me sometimes." I sighed. "I start thinking stupid thoughts. I know it's not rational, at least. It's easier to ignore when I realize that."

"I know. Recognizing it is the real turning point." Margaret nodded.

"I can't do it if you're watching me, anyway. I'd feel too guilty for making someone watch that happen." I stared back at the pile of rock.

"That's the idea." She gave me a soft smile.

"That's playing dirty, lady." I gave her a tiny smirk.

"Yep. I can tell you have a kind heart. Under the circumstances, I'm willing to exploit it. And I'm not sorry, either. Do you want to eat something? We can go get some dinner if you like?" She asked.

"I'll pass. But thank you. I'm just not really hungry right now." I replied as I looked back up at the cliff. I didn't know then that it was the last time I'd climb that particular group of rocks.

Margaret was right, it did eventually get better.

* * *

The next few months went by quickly. I found that I quickly became good friends with Theron and Margaret, despite them being almost twice my age. Theron worked on with very large canvases, often more than twelve feet across and had me help him stretch the canvas material over the frames to set them. He also kept me busy with sawing and sanding wood to use for the canvas frames. None of this seemed to be anything he couldn't handle himself, and I suspected that he had me doing it more to keep my mind occupied than because he actually needed the help. The busyness helped ease my depression.

I learned that Margaret was heavily involved in pottery, which explained her deceptively strong hands. She taught me to throw clay and use the pottery wheels. I found the process tiring and tedious, but was still fascinated with the end results. My attempts to make relatively simple things like bowls and cups were generally agreed upon by both of the Cains as dismal failures. Out of sheer stubbornness, I used one of my lopsided bowls for paint mixing, until I accidentally dropped it one afternoon, effectively ending my fledgling career as a potter.

Theron enjoyed fishing and paddling his small boat out around the island. Eventually, he got me to go fishing with him. I found it surprisingly enjoyable. He laughed when I asked about sharks and explained that there weren't many to be found around the island and that he'd never even heard of an attack in the area. I quickly discovered the caves along the water's edge and spent a lot of time swimming in the tide pools inside them. I loved the quiet solitude of the place, and often walked the beaches at night.

Theron and Margaret were both very interested in how my relationship with Amy had started and asked lots of questions about her. I showed them the drawing that I had done of her the night she fell asleep on the sofa and agreed that it was the most realistic drawing that they had ever seen me produce. I missed her constantly.

By the end of the fourth month, I found myself standing in front of a large, blank canvas for the first time in what felt like ages. I was positioned by an open window with the fresh salt air blowing in from the bay. Theron was across the room working on a canvas of his own. I put on my headphones, after several weeks of not listening to any music at all, and called up the first song that came to mind. One that reminded me of Amy. It was a song that I had loaded on her phone the day before she left for Rome, and it was a favorite of mine. Radiohead's "All I Need" started playing on repeat as I picked up a tube of paint and set to work.

For a few minutes, I stood with the brush full of paint just sitting in my hand next to the canvas. Finally, I just dropped the brush in the rinse water and squirted crimson paint into my palm. I began smearing it on the canvas, creating vine-like curves across the length of it. I added more crimson and yellow to my palm and kept working the image. It was like trying to finger paint as an adult. There wasn't as much control. But the raw image felt more visceral to me for some reason. As it began coming together, I worked faster. I became enthralled in the work and lost myself in it.

When I finished coating the entire canvas in paint, I grabbed a rag, wet it, and began wiping away sections of the acrylic paint in a circular pattern, being sure to leave some of the image intact, creating an effect of round objects that were lighter in color than the rest. I grabbed my bottle of water and splashed some on the canvas. Then I cupped my hand and put a small amount of white paint in it, adding water and creating a milky thin wash. I splashed that across the canvas as well. The resulting look of the image was somewhat like it was cloudy and melting. Finally, I grabbed a brush and began working on details in crimson. The raw, hand painted background adding a new dimension to the design in a way I hadn't done before. Hours later, I leaned back against a bar stool and looked over the finished design.

"Damn." Theron spoke up, startling me. I looked over to see he and Margaret sitting on the stone steps behind me that lead up to the dining area of the studio, watching me.

"That was fun to watch," Margaret said, smiling. "Are you finished with it?"

"I think so." I said, somewhat embarrassed to be observed like that. Amy was the only person who had ever really watched me paint outside of a classroom before.

"I think you are, too." Theron said. "Most impressive. I love it."

I washed up my brushes and cleaned the paint off of my hands. I felt a sense of accomplishment for the first time in a long while. Another of the clouds over my spirits seemed to fade away a little.

It was late afternoon and I was famished. We all went out to eat at the cafe in Klima again, and I went to the beach while they returned home. I sat atop a large rock formation and looked out at the beautiful clear blue water as the sun disappeared for the night. I didn't feel at peace, but I felt as close I thought I probably ever would. I missed Amy with everything that was in me, but I felt like maybe I was giving her the chance that my mother so desperately wanted for her to have a normal life. I wondered what she was doing now. I wished she were here with me. This view would have blown her away. I wished to take her down to one of the tide pools inside the caves and make love to her there with the only light shining up from where the outside sun would shine through the pool. The familiar knot tightened in my stomach and I wept silently in the dark.

Early the next morning, I went down to the studio and looked over the painting I had done the day before. I was pleased with the results and placed it against the wall. I grabbed a fresh canvas, picked a song, and went to work on it. By evening, I'd completed another. I became prolific. My color choices became brighter than I normally used, not because I was in a better mood, but because I didn't want to use the typical earth tones that tended to be my routine color choices. I also began to work on a larger scale, the largest of them being one that measured six feet across. That one had overdone it and I settled into a more comfortable two feet by four feet format for most of them.

A few more months passed and I participated in a couple of small local shows around Greece. I even had a couple of paintings on display in one of the larger galleries in Athens. I began to make a small amount of money, nothing even close to enough to live on, but at least I was generating some income from my paintings. Still, I couldn't help admitting that I was achieving a tiny amount of success as an artist, which was something I could never have fathomed happening. Much like the rest of my pay since arriving here, I simply put the money in savings and more or less forgot about it.

* * *

One afternoon, after delivering a new painting of Theron's for display at a large gallery in Athens, I walked a couple of blocks down the street to grab some lunch at a small cafe. Not knowing my way around Greek cuisine very well, I blindly ordered the youvetsi from the menu. It arrived shortly after and was edible, but not something I would typically order for myself. I sat at a curbside table under a large umbrella, picking at it disinterestedly and watching traffic pass by.

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byAnomic© 132 comments/ 88583 views/ 236 favorites

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