Today’s challenge was to write in the style of an artist. I’ve chosen an imaginative interpretation of Vincent Van Gogh, using his painting ‘A Starry Night’ as inspiration.
A Starry Night
1881. Stars explode in a million galaxies when I see her. My emotions swirl. She is a splash of light against the darkness of my life. Colours dance across the canvas and my heart swirls, whirls and twirls with them. Kee. The name pulses, radiates. I see her face and I am spinning across galaxies, dancing with stars. She is seven years older than I, recently widowed and with an eight-year-old son. These layers of information only add depth to my feelings for her. I lay out the canvas of my heart, swirling dark blue emotion in dizzying patterns, punctuated with explosions of yellow happiness. Kee. It sounds like the French word for who. Who has made me happy? Kee has made me happy. The yellow stars eclipse the dark night; she and her son have broken through my depression and we will form our own little universe together.
She does not want me.
I have declared my love; I have proposed marriage; but she does not want me. “Nooit, neen, nimmer.” No, nay, never. The stars wink out so that only deep blue swirls remain. The untouched yellow paint dries up on my palette. I no longer dance across the sky.
Picking up my charcoal, I sketch the bleak lines of life without her.
1882. I have learned to love again. Colours swirl in my mind. Sien also has a child and she is pregnant with another. Am I fated only to love maternal women?
Sien’s life is as tumultuous as mine. Wine swirls in the glass of her life, pulling her down to depths even I was unaware of. I keep my alcoholic prostitute a secret: she is the Mary Magdalene to my former Virgin Mary. It seems purity and degradation are not so different after all. The deep blue swirls in my mind, merges both women into one. Kee. Sien. Sien. Kee. Keesien. Sienkee. I am spinning through galaxies, searching for pinpricks of light.
1883. We drift apart. Sien will spiral deeper into deprivation, returning to her former trade. She will outlive me by fourteen years, but in twenty-one years’ time, she will let the dark blue water of the River Scheidt swirl over her head.
The sadness lasts forever.
1884. A neighbour’s daughter, Margot, is in love with me. I return her affection, though with less enthusiasm than I might have done before Kee. Our marriage is thwarted by both sets of parents, but I am used to disappointment: first Kee, then Sien, now Margot. She, alas, is not so lucky. Strychnine swirls through her bloodstream but the hospital saves her before her face can turn blue. The oil paintings I produce the following year are dark and sombre. There is no life in them.
1889. I have entered an asylum in Saint-Rémy. It is not so far from Arles. Years of disappointment and despair have piled layer upon layer of deep, dark blue on my heart and mind. Taking my palette knife, I cut through the paint as Kee cut through my heart with her rejection. I swirl the layers into never-ending circles of despair. Here and there, blobs of yellow paint suggest hope, but the stars and even the moon are overshadowed by the dark tower of my mind. It looms at the forefront of the painting, reminding me that I am still a prisoner of my own unhappiness.
It is one of the best paintings I have ever done.
In years to come, those who view my painting will not see the years of hurt and rejection. They will be deaf to the voices that cry out constantly in my mind. They will admire the swirling blues of depression and the clouds of despair, and they will think the yellow stars and moon symbolise light and hope. I have painted my agony in a maelstrom of madness, but they will only see A Starry Night.