The Colour of Caring
“What are you doin lady?” Mitchell’s blue eyes stared hard at the half finished canvas.
“Painting”, the woman sat on a round hard stool, her feet spread apart, the open toe sandals exposing rough tanned feet.
“What are you painting?” Mitchell kept on talking, his nine year old mind oblivious to the silent request for privacy.
“Just painting”, she said, holding her brush in the air as if waiting for something. Mitchell didn’t get that what she was waiting for was him to leave.
“Oh,” he said. “I paint at school, but I’m not good at it.”
“Fine,” she said again, still holding the brush in the air. “That’s just fine. Now, if you don’t mind.”
“I don’t mind,” he said, blonde hair blowing across his forehead. Then, “don’t mind what?”
“Don’t mind leaving me alone so I can continue. I need to be very quiet when I paint.” This time she turned squinted eyes in his direction, not really looking at him.
“Oh,” he said again. “Sure, sorry to bother you lady. But you know what?”
“What,” she said, her voice clipped short. Abigail was not comfortable with children. Abigail was comfortable with a paint brush, and things that didn’t look back at her forming themselves on a canvas. Abigail had always been that way. Her pictures hung in galleries.
“Well,” he started to say, then, “never mind. It’s not important.”
“Good,” she said, dabbing the brush in the pallet, letting it swirl round in a kind of mini frenzy.
“Well,” he started again. “I was just wondering. Do you think you could show me how to paint. Mitchell sat down on the grass in front of her.
“Didn’t you hear what I said,” gray sprigs of hair blew in the wind. “I have to be alone, so I can work. I’m sorry, but someone else will have to show you.”
“Oh,” he said. I just want to paint a picture for my mom, but I can’t paint, not really, so I prayed this morning, cause my mom said that God answers prayers, even of little kids, and so I prayed and asked God . . . .
“Asked God what?” Abigail was curious now. She pulled her feet together, placed the pallet on the ground in front of her and resigned herself to the intrusion.
“I asked Him if he could help me paint a really good picture, and then I came to the park today with my aunt and sister, they’re over there”. He pointed a dirty nailed finger to the swings in the background. “And then I saw you over here and I knew you were painting a picture so I thought maybe you were God’s answer…”
“How so” she was almost afraid to ask.
“Well,” he kept on talking, his little voice growing higher with excitement. “Maybe God put you there to help me paint a beautiful picture. My mom needs a beautiful picture. She needs something beautiful to look at, cause she’s going to the hospital soon to have something done. I don’t know what. Nobody tells me anything.”
Abigail could see his mouth turn down at the sides, his eyes lose their shine.
“My aunt said that maybe someday she would be able to take care of me and my sister. That’s what she’s doing today, so my mom can have another sleep.”
“Okay,” Abigail said and took a small blank canvas from a burlap bag beside her chair.
“Sit over here, and I’ll show you how to draw a flower. I think your mother would like a picture of a flower, and maybe some trees, and a little bit of blue sky.”
As she spoke, Abigail took his little hand in hers and guided it across the canvas. For some reason, the picture took on a life she never experienced before. Mitchell dabbed the brush in the purples, and reds and blues with a smile too big for his face.
“My mom’s gonna love this? And it’s something I did. That makes it special.”
“Yes,” Abigail said, softly this time, looking down on his young blonde head.
“It makes this craft special for me too. Very special,” she said, her head nodding up and down slowly as the wind brushed against her face. “In fact, I think God answered two prayers at the same time.”
“How so?” he said, stopping for a second.
“Well,” she said. “He just added another beautiful colour to my pallet.”
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