Tuesday, 27 May 2014

A Writing Exercise

Today I'm sharing a writing exercise I wrote for a composition class a few years ago. The instructor asked that we write a story based on a painting (she provided the image of the painting) by a famous artist. Maybe you know it? See if you can guess...here is the piece that I wrote:




The gallery is quiet. I am semi-aware of a woman standing behind me. She also is looking at what has me mesmerized. I wonder what Picasso was thinking when he painted that portrait. Perhaps this guitarist was a man the artist saw every day. As I stand and stare I look closer for clues, and I find myself drawn into the scene.

The limits of those boundaries enclosing the painting disappear. Now I find myself on the sidewalk of a street in Paris. The guitar music wraps itself around me. The music sounds sad and lonely. The notes drip like falling rain, like tears falling from the guitarists fingertips as he gently strokes the strings of his instrument. I can see his guitar case is open a few feet away. A few sympathetic passersby have dropped a few coins into the guitar case. Most people that pass by do not seem to notice him; they do not want to be bothered by a beggar. They scurry by making it obvious that they have more important things to do.

The guitarist continues to play, not concerned about whether anyone is enjoying, or even listening at all, to the sounds that wrench his soul.

There is a cafe to the right of the guitarist. I can smell the aromas that escape from the open door. I wonder why he doesn't get himself something to eat. He is thin and gaunt, and a good helping of warm bread would put some meat on his thin frame. I search those eyes which have not seen sleep in many days. He hasn't been attentive to his personal needs for some time -- he could use clean clothes, shoes for his feet, and a nice warm bath. But he continues to strum his guitar.

The sky seems to understand the message in his music, and joins him in his sorrow by crying tears of rain. The droplets fall as gently as the music that he plays.

I can feel the air breathing heavy sighs in the breeze.

The guitarist appears to be cold; his fingers are getting stiffer as he continues on with his tune. The sad melody trickles from his freezing fingers. The rain has stopped, but the day is getting colder. He shudders visibly, yet he continues to play. The water on the sidewalk that was rain a few moments ago, has turned into ice. His melody becomes quieter, his strumming has slowed, and then just like the rain, it suddenly stops.

The guitarist has finished his tune, and he will not play sad melodies ever again.

The woman behind me asks “Is that a Picasso?” I suddenly find myself back in the art gallery.

“Yes,” I answer her, “it is”. 

I walk away to gaze at another painting.

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