Inspiration: from the Latin Inspiratus-Divine guidance or influence exerted directly on the mind and soul of humankind.
After that nightmare, the day stretched on interminably.
She hadn’t started anything but the background of Louise’s painting the day before, because she’d been distracted by her reminiscences, she told herself. More likely it was simple fear. Now, as she carefully mixed ashes with paint, and began thinking about details of what she was about to do, nervousness reared its ugly head again. Before this, she’d only done her mother’s painting utilizing cremains. Now, here she was, about to begin the meat of her first commissioned painting, and it scared her to death. What if she made a mistake?
The tentativeness about connecting that next brushstroke to canvas loomed large in her mind so she finally decided to call her client, Louise Grayson, for final approval.
She completed her preparations, took several deep breaths and made the call. Louise answered on the second ring.
“Hello,” The voice sounded a little drowsy, causing Kira to glance over at the clock. 8:45 on a weekday. Surely this wasn’t too early. “Good morning, Louise. This is Kira McGovern. I hope I’m not
calling too early.” There was a short pause, and then Louise sounded much brighter and more alert.
“No, Kira. Hello. I was sleeping in a little but I needed to get up anyway. Thanks for calling. What can I do for you?”
Kira was in a hurry to get going and didn’t feel like mincing words. “I’d like to start on your painting today and I want to do a Civil War scene like I mentioned at lunch the other day, but I thought I should at least double-check with you before I start. I’m not sure of the details, but definitely a Civil War scene.” The words all seemed to come out in a rush, but there was only the briefest of pauses as Louise took it in.
“I think that’d be great. It would make my dad so happy to be in a Civil War scene considering his fixation with it. As a matter of fact, I bet he’d be ecstatic about it. Please—go for it.”
That was exactly what Kira was hoping to hear and what she’d anticipated from their earlier conversation.
“Great! I’ll get started here in just a few minutes and call you as I make progress.”
“Don’t bother, Kira. Just call me when you’re done. Do you need any photos from me or anything?”
Interesting, Kira thought. That idea hadn’t even crossed her mind. “No thanks, Louise, I’m good. I’ll give you a call next week.”
“Sounds great. I’m really excited about you doing this. I have a good feeling about it.”
That was nice, Kira thought. It further bolstered her tentative confidence. “Thanks, Louise. I’ll give it my best.”
What a relief. Kira didn’t want to have to deviate from what she’d already planned to do. Feeling significantly lighter, she finished mixing the paints, adjusted her canvas, moved her stool into position and got to work. Everything she had done to start this business, and even this first commission with Louise had seemed almost preordained. It felt right. She was so thrilled with the success she’d had with her mom’s painting she could hardly wait to see the outcome of this one. It suffused her with the warmth of purpose. She was getting her life back on track.
“Wow!” She said, turning her full attention back to the painting after dismissing another train of thought about her mother. She’d just finished painting a bridge. Furrowing her brows, she struggled to recall thinking about even wanting a bridge over the river she’d imagined in the scene. Yes, she had, but nothing like this.
Kira marveled at her own detail. The structure seemed substantial but falling into disrepair, and now there were the beginnings of a horse on the left and trees in the background. It was looking like a winter scene. Had she thought of it being winter? She wasn’t sure. It seemed right, though. She decided she liked it.
Lifting the brush her attention turned to people in the picture. Two brushstrokes later, she was again flying away on the wings of time, the creative fugue seizing her completely.
It was years ago, and her modeling career had been in full bloom. She’d gone to Paris for a shoot. Everything was beautiful. The blue autumn sky was clear and crisp. People were out everywhere, and it seemed you could see the Eiffel Tower from anywhere you stood. They hadn’t had the opportunity to spend much time in the city on that occasion because the photographer decided he wanted a more country- like setting.
The train trip into the French countryside had taken an hour or so and Kira was amazed at the incredibly vivid scenery. There were lush green hills and fields with crops blowing in the wind. It was beautiful, and she’d found herself feeling glad and lonely at the same time. There was such a sense of history in Europe. Everywhere she went she could feel the parade of centuries that had etched its way across this glorious landscape. Kira could almost imagine a French knight striding alone on one of the hills in full armor on a sturdy warhorse. Even though she was fully aware of how hard those times were to live in, it all seemed so romantic.
The train had finally stopped at a little town called Rosieres- en-Haye. It was just a nugget of a town in the French countryside and had apparently been the site of a US airbase during WWII. The United States had given it back to the French after the war, but it had gone into disuse, and the town itself had diminished greatly from the lack of commerce. The buildings, however, were absolutely spectacular. They were quintessential French Country with warm colors and heavy woods inside and out.
The photographer had picked a quaint, low-ceilinged café, and with a few words to the proprietor and some exchange of money, the crew had begun to set up.
Kira was casually glancing out one of the windows, enjoying the view, when a rifle shot exploded the peaceful setting and her friend at the next window spun around, blood spraying everywhere. She hit the floor in a leaden heap, a huge hole in her chest and blood pooling almost before her body came to rest. Emotions avalanched Kira— Sadness. Loss. Grief.
“Oh my Lord!” Kira fell back from the canvas, gasping for breath. Her brush fell from her limp hand as she stared in astonishment at the painting, and her other hand shot up in response to a sudden sharp pain in her chest. There was now an old man sitting by the bridge. His face was finished, as was his upper torso. His arms were down but she’d just started on the hands. Who was this man? And what was that memory? Memory?! It wasn’t a memory—it had never happened! Well, the rifle shot had never happened. The trip to France had happened. The photo shoot had, too, but what was this vision of her friend being shot? That had never happened. Her gaze fixed again on the painting, as her thoughts raced. There was a sense of sadness upon the face of the man she’d just painted. Who was he? Her eyes wandered carefully over the canvas, now noticing the water under the bridge was finished, too.
Kira put down her brush. She needed a break. Her mind was in turmoil and her heart was thumping in her chest like the hooves of that horse she’d begun to draw. Did she remember imagining a horse? She wasn’t sure.
Opening the refrigerator door she pulled out a pitcher of tea. What the heck was going on with her anyway? This couldn’t be written off as a dream: she had been awake. She opened the cupboard and pulled out a glass. Her memory was accurate right up until that rifle shot, she was sure of it.
Rifle shot? It still confounded her. She’d never heard a rifle shot in her whole life, except on TV. How did a rifle shot come to be in her memory? As she sat and pondered the puzzle, a shiver ran along her spine that had nothing to do with the ice in the tea.
Between last night’s nightmare and today’s odd intrusion on her memory, Kira was decidedly shaken. She could use a bit longer break. Crossing over to the computer with her tea, she sat down and began rummaging around on the Internet for sites where she could place her new ad. She made a list of some of the bigger sites, like Yahoo!, but was pretty certain they’d cost more than she wanted to spend just yet. She’d read somewhere that cross-linking with other sites was an inexpensive way to get some added exposure and she could do that in a few days once her website was up and running. What she needed were some specialty sites. While she searched, an ad popped up for Eharmony.com. Dating sites might be good. Match.com was too big though: they wouldn’t cross link, but what about some of the smaller sites. She took a different tack, and made some more lists. Later, she could get on the phone and begin to make calls. After that last skewed vision, it might be a good idea to take a day off from painting. This last little foray into the Twilight Zone had unnerved her way too much. As a matter of fact, she thought, maybe a little exercise would do her some good.
So, with the rest of her day planned, she refocused her attention back on her Internet search.