The Woman saw me from across the store. I watched her stop and stare and then walk toward me. Maybe this was it. Maybe this was the day I would be chosen. I stood still. I had no choice. The Woman scrunched her brow and examined me. She looked at my lines and my colors and then stepped back.
“I love it,” she whispered to herself, “It’s perfect.” The Woman picked me up and awkwardly carried me to the front where she paid for me and then took me to her car. The Woman sang along to the radio and then answered a phone call.
“I found it,” The Woman said into the phone. “I can’t wait to show you.”
A while later, she stopped the car and opened the door. She carefully pulled me out of the back seat and walked me to the porch. She set me aside to fumble with her keys, then carried me into the big room with the fireplace and set me on the mantle. She stepped back to study me again. She wasn’t smiling as much as she did in the store.
“Oh no. What is wrong?” I thought. She said I was perfect.
“Hmmm,” she sighed and then stepped back again. Then she walked out of the room.
I was big and square and made of canvas. I was covered with flowers of many colors, but mostly reds and pinks, greens and blues. “Lovely” and “modern” and “colorful” were just some of the things I had heard people say about me. The Woman didn’t smile. Why didn’t she smile?
I felt insecure. I couldn’t make myself smaller, or bigger, or more rectangular. I couldn’t deepen my colors or soften my lines. Painter created me from the heart. Every blend of color. Every stroke of the brush. I was a masterpiece, carefully and perfectly created but The Woman didn’t seem impressed.
Hours went by as I questioned my worth and my purpose. I felt inadequate. I started to think my reds weren’t red enough and my greens were too green. If Painter would have made my stems a little thinner and my petals a little more plentiful, then maybe The Woman would like me more. Maybe if I was surrounded by a gorgeous wooden frame trimmed in gold, it would make my colors look more vibrant, my square shape more appealing.
Hours later, The Man came home. The Woman walked him to the fireplace and waved her hand toward me and smiled. They looked at me for a few minutes in silence. The Woman looked at the man. She seemed nervous.
“I don’t like it,” he exclaimed. “Something about the colors.”
“Really? You don’t like it?” she asked, looking surprised and disappointed. I felt very uncomfortable. The Woman said quietly, “I liked the colors.”
“If you like it, keep it. That’s fine,” The Man said. “I don’t think it works in this room.” Then the man turned and walked away.
“I thought it was perfect, but if you don’t like it … ,” she said, dropping her head to stare at the ground and running after him.
I was humiliated and I felt unwanted.
I heard a ruckus in the hallway and then two children burst into the room. The Boy ran by without noticing but The Girl stopped short when she saw me.
“Oooh, pretty!” she said, “I love that painting with all the flowers on it, Mommy.” She stood in front of the fireplace, tilting her head back the whole way to see me. She was smiling.
The Boy looked up briefly, didn’t say anything, and then walked into the next the room.
“Mommy, I love that!” The Girl said, pointing to me. I was so happy.
“You do?” She asked. “I thought I liked it but then your Dad didn’t…”
“I think it is beautiful,” The Girl interrupted. “I like all the colors. Every flower is different. Little ones, big ones, round ones and petal-y ones. The leaves are neat too. Green ones and blue ones…”
The Woman smiled when she looked at The Girl, who was looking up at me.
“I am glad you like it. I liked it too. Go wash up for dinner,” She said to The Girl who ran out of the room.
The Woman continued to stand there, looking at me with new eyes. She smiled at me for a moment, then a pensive look appeared on her face and she walked away.
I spent the night hanging out in the dark room, unsure if I belonged. The Girl thought my colors were beautiful. The Man did not. The Boy didn’t care. The Woman loved me at first until The Man said he didn’t. They each saw something different in me. The Girl loved my colors but The Man didn’t. The Woman saw me from across the store and liked me right away but The Boy barely noticed me at all.
I felt self-conscious about everything. My colors didn’t seem bright. My flowers weren’t pretty. My squareness was awkward. If only I had some pastel colors instead. If only my flowers were roses or orchids and not wildflowers. If only I was a rectangle or a smaller square. I was even mad at Painter. If only Painter painted me differently. Maybe everyone would like me, not just The Girl.
The next day, The Woman came home and moved me from the mantle onto the floor. I watched as she unwrapped a shiny silver mirror edged in pearls and rhinestones. It was sleek and beautiful. The light danced off the reflective surface. The Woman stepped back and smiled.
“Maybe that is better? No colors now,” The Woman said.
I was replaced. The Woman carried me into the back hall, set me up against the wall, and left me there. I wallowed in self-pity and sadness. I heard the ring of the doorbell followed by a group of women talking.
“That is gorgeous,” I heard one of them say.
“It brightens up this room,” said another.
I thought I brightened the room. I thought my flowers added just enough color to the neutral decor. I was wrong. Maybe I wasn’t pretty enough. Sleek enough. Shiny enough. Just not enough. If I didn’t belong on a wall, then what was my purpose? I began to think I didn’t have one.
I stood with my back to the wall for the rest of the day. I overheard The Man tell The Woman that the mirror was a good choice. When The Man asked what The Woman was going to do with me, she said, “I will return it to the store tomorrow.”
I was going back? How humiliating. Everyone saw me leave and now they would know I wasn’t wanted.
Rejected … and returned.
A while later, I heard that ruckus again. The Boy and The Girl were home.
“Mom, what happened to the pretty painting?” asked The Girl when she walked into the family room.
“I found this mirror instead. You don’t like it?” The Woman asked.
“It’s nice,” said The Girl, “I liked the flowers better. The mirror is boring. I liked the pretty colors.”
“What do you think?” The Woman asked The Boy.
“I don’t care,” he said as dribbled a ball on the way out the door.
“Where is the flower painting?” asked The Girl.
“I put it in the hallway. I will take it back to the store tomorrow.”
“No,” said The Girl. “Can I have it? For my room?”
“I suppose,” The Woman said, thinking. “If we can find a place to put it.”
I heard footsteps and then The Girl sat down cross-legged right in front of me on the floor. She ran her finger along one of my stems and then pointed to a red flower.
“That one is my favorite,” The Girl said. “I like all of the pretty flowers though. I want this in my room, on the wall. It makes me happy.”
“Let’s take it upstairs and see if it will fit,” The Woman said picking me up from the floor. The Girl ran up the steps in front of us and opened her door.
“Right there!” The Girl said, entering her room and pointing to a blank spot on the wall across from her bed. “It will fit.”
The Woman held it up as best she could. “Yes, it will fit.” She turned to look around the room. “It matches the colors in here too.”
The Girl’s room was painted the exact shade of blue that was on some of my leaves. Her bedspread was the color of some of my flowers. My square shape was just right for the open spot on her wall.
“See,” The Girl said, with a huge smile on her face. “I love it.”
“I love it too,” said The Woman. “Let me ask your Dad to hang it. I can’t reach.”
The Lady put me down on the floor and left the room. The Girl crawled off her bed and sat cross-legged in front of me again.
“I love your flowers and your colors,” whispered The Girl. She was speaking to me. “It makes me happy when I look at you. You are going to make my room look happy too.”
If I could, I would have blushed. A few moments later, The Man pounded in a nail and placed me on the wall. I filled with joy and pride.
“Looks good in here,” The Man said, looking around. “Is it me or do the colors looks brighter in here?”.
“No, Silly Goose,” said The Girl, laughing. “The colors are the same as they were downstairs. You didn’t open your eyes enough to see them.”
“I think you are right, baby,” said The Woman.
Just then The Boy came up the steps and walked into the room.
“Look at my painting. Isn’t it beautiful?” The Girl asked him as she stretched out her arms like a game show hostess.
The Boy looked up and shrugged, then walked away.
“Some people never see the colors,” The Girl said, shaking her head.
I found my purpose on that wall. I often wondered if the Girl was wrong. Was it possible that my colors were brighter in this room? It certainly felt that way.
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