Aiming for a creative life

I Am Santo

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She splattered oil paint on the canvas in reckless strokes. Eunice could not stop thinking about him as a boy, one memory sticking out in particular. They were at the beach late in the afternoon and backlit in the reflected light of the setting sun, Joseph splashed and rolled around in a tidal pool, joy coursing through his limbs, embodied by every movement. She had never seen him happier than that moment before or after. Antonio had stayed home that day, which was for the better as he’d have broken up the moment with disapproval, his voice gruff with impatience. It was that tone that would define Joseph and his father’s relationship almost all of her son’s life, for he was the black sheep. But she always loved him, perhaps because he was the runt of their litter of four; forever in need of more help than anyone else. Now he’d returned to the sea, and Eunice tried hard to find forgiveness in her heart for what Joseph had done. No mother should see her child die. The pain is unimaginable, so much worse than the hurt caused by a child who’d gone bad as Joseph had. But all of her children were her masterpieces, no matter who they became, and as she painted her feelings after the phone call from the police revealed her son’s body had been found off City Pier Seven, she tired to capture her abyssal sadness before doing anything else. What took shape was a boy trapped in golden sunlight, silhouetted against gleaming water. He was colored in red instead of black, though, as was the water he splashed in, and while Eunice knew she’d long ago lost the vision and blessing she held for Joseph, he had been created straight from her heart, pure arterial art poured from body, mind and soul. And he was gone, never to be completed as she’d hoped, a spilled notion of a man in a puddle of seemingly pointless effort. It made sense that never finished the painting. Like a tombstone, it sat in the corner of her studio just within view, but rarely out of mind.

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