The artist sat in his old blue chair staring at yet another blank canvas. He couldn't understand where his inspiration had gone.
As a younger man, he would fill two or three canvasas a day, and now this blank, white, board just stared back at him, laughing. As if, somehow it was the artist and he was the canvas.
As if this lifeless, blank board was peering deep into his soul, seeking what art it could create from the mess of a man in front of it.
That's when the artist cracked. He jumped from his seat and went straight to the cupboard.
It had been seven months since his last drink but somehow he knew it wouldn't last forever anyway, and apparently it wouldn't last longer than today.
He reached up to the top shelf where he had hidden one last bottle of scotch. One last escape. One last defeat.
The artist didn't even get a glass. He pulled the top off the dusty bottle and let it rip, gulping down almost half the bottle in one solid chug.
The fire water hit his belly and brought warmth up to his cheeks. Now he would paint. He would paint his masterpiece and finally put an end to the blankness of that god forsaken canvas.
Staring back at the canvas, half a bottle of scotch still in hand, something strange happened. It was no longer a solid white canvas, for it somehow transformed into a mirror.
He stared into it and tried to adjust himself as if not liking what he saw.
As the reflection came more into focus he gasped and tears lept from his eyes, for the reflection he saw shown a cruel, hard truth.
The canvas, now turned mirror, showed the artist back to himself. His grey unkept hair. His unshaven face lined with wrinkles.
A bottle of scotch in his hand that read the words failure upon it, and worse was the deep set sadness apparent in every aspect of the human looking back at him.
"How could this be me?" the artist thought out loud. "When did I turn into this decrepit old man?"
He lifted a hand to his paintbrush to begin to outline the figure he saw in the canvas but stopped just shy.
His paintbrush wavering just centimeters from the canvas, he stood, watching, as if not wanting to solidfy the deppressive reality he could so clearly see in front of him.
The figure he saw was hunched over, impossibly hunched. He couldn't draw this. He couldn't paint yet another hurtful version of the truth.
So he made a choice, a drunken choice, but a choice all the same and somehow the decision lightened his heart a bit.
The figure on the canvas was hunched over, but the artist remembered himself as a strong young man, so rather than lock in this decrepit form, he painted the outline of a tall,
healthy and athletic body.
And thats when the magic began. As if pulled by an imaginary string from the top of his head, the artist felt his back straighten, his shoulders ease into a confident but relaxed pose.
"That's more like it" mumbled the drunken madman.
The feeling was so releaving that he quickly went into motion. He would defy this mirror. He would rewrite his entire life in this one painting. The artists hands went into a flurry.
Whatever he saw in the canvas, in the face of the figure staring back at him, he would improve on. The mirror-canvas showed a deeply saddened face, so the first step was to bring back the joy.
The artist called upon his most joyous memory, the birth of his son, and then painted a smile that would brighten even the darkest crevice of the universe.
Immediately he felt the corners of his mouth pulled up by the same invisible string that had straightened his posture moments before. He let out a full bellied laugh.
"That feels more accurate!" he stated with clarity "That's what I remember."
The figure on the canvas was still holding a bottle of defeat gripped tightly in an old wrinkled hand.
So the artist immeditely changed it into a graceful hand, a beautiful hand, that was firmly holding a magnificent paintbrush.
The artist barely recognized the sound of a bottle of scotch falling from his grasp and breaking on the floor beneath his feet.
Now with both hands free he continued, well into the night, somehow righting every wrong, lightening every load until the man on the canvas stood with a glorious confidence looking back at him.
And with every paint stroke, he felt a matching internal shift. Where he had felt years of weakness, he now felt strong.
Where he had wallowed in depression, the artist felt a lightness of heart and a deep seated joy.
The old heart in his chest beat with a strong and steady rhythm and his hands worked in unison creating the ideal mirror, the perfect reflection.
As the sun rose up, peaking golden light into his window, the artist made one final touch. He gave the man in the painting a large white canvas so that the work could continue.
What this new version of himself would paint, he had no idea, but he knew whatever it was, it would be glorious.
The artist sat back in his chair for an endless moment, admiring his masterpiece. Soaking it in like a newly birthed butterfly drying its wings in the morning sun.
His mind stood with a clarity that had illuded him for so many years. He looked at the stacks of blank canvases in the corner and jokingly thought to himself. "I've got a fun week ahead"
At the bottom right corner of the still wet masterpiece, the corner where he had finalized every painting before with a signature, he wrote one small but confident phrase.