Varsha 2023 Stories - Michael Colon



By Michael Colon


As I center myself in the middle of my bedroom, I absorb the stories behind each of my paintings hung up all over the walls. I turned 21 years old yesterday, and all I wanted to do for my birthday was paint. I didn't want to go out to celebrate with anyone. I only wanted to express my muse on the white canvas. My family wasn't too happy that I elected not to celebrate, but they just don't understand.

While playing with the paintbrush in my hands, I played with my thoughts, chasing them around to capture them to a clearer idea.

"Timothy, supper is almost ready!" Mother shouts from downstairs.

I peeked out of my room and shouted back, "Ok Mom! Be down there in a few!"

I sat back down a few inches away from the canvas, and that's when my next idea hit me. I ran to grab my watercolors kit, which I need to stock up on, and dipped my brush into the palette. I visualized the painting as already completed. I danced with all the watercolors by intertwining them together with my emotions. With each stroke of the brush, a new world is manifesting itself right before my eyes.

I dropped my brush on the floor and marveled at my finished work.

"Timothy, come down! I'm serving supper now!" Mother shouts. I ran downstairs to sit with my family at the dinner table. Mom comes around, serving my father the meatloaf with mashed potatoes first before getting to me and my two younger brothers. Before we ate, my father said grace to bless the food. They try to get me to go to Sunday mass, but I rather paint. While the silverware hit the plates, I thought about another idea for my next piece.

“So Timothy, I see you received another award at college for your painting,” my father says. My younger brothers looked at me with their mouths open, amazed at the news.

“Wow, that's neat, Tim,” Jeremy says.

“You are so talented. I get to say my big brother will be a famous artist to all my classmates,” Tyler adds.

I said, “thank you, everyone. This would be the second year I won the state artistry competition representing my school.”

My father says, “You are making us very proud, son. Keep up the great work.”

When we finished dinner, I helped my mom with the dishes while my father helped my two brothers with their homework.

“I am sure you are going to be a great artist one day. Just try to make a little more time for your family. I know your siblings are younger than you are, but time flies fast. We aren’t young forever,” my mom explains to me.

“I understand, Mom,” I replied, wanting to hurry back to painting in my room.

Later that night, I couldn’t sleep from all the ideas floating around in my head, trying to escape onto the white canvas like magnets attracting each other to connect. I got up from bed, lit a candle, and went downstairs to the living room. Everyone is sound asleep, having dreams. I don’t have dreams; I just have obsessive thoughts about the next concept I am going to create. I walked over to my trophy and award collection behind this tall glass cabinet. From elementary school until now, I counted 50 awards in total. Something odd occurred when holding the candle near the glass cabinet of achievements. My reflection is that of an elderly man.

I turned around, and it is just me down here. Grandpa didn't spend the night, as far as I know. Perhaps I am tired and need to get some sleep and stop thinking about painting. I went to the storage supply closet to look for an extra pillow, but at the top of the closet, I saw a red book with a red ribbon tied around it. I know better not to open that red hardcover book. I forgot who told me not to open it, but if I do, my life would never be the same. For the rest of the evening, I laid in bed staring at the wax slowly dripping off the candlestick, thinking about the coloration and tone I should add to my next project.

The next day I stepped outside and went to the arts and craft shop to buy more paint.

“My favorite customer has arrived. Win any more prizes recently?” Oswald, the shop owner, asks me while sweeping around the floors.

“I won an award a few days ago representing my school. I want my paintings to be recognized all over the world,” I answered. My dream is for the entire world to appreciate my art. I want to be a famous painter more than anything.

“Well, if anybody can accomplish that goal, it would be you, Timothy Colors. I mean, it's in your name. What are the odds,” Oswald replies, organizing the cash in the register.

I purchased the color set I wanted, but while doing so, I saw an old man again as my reflection through the store window. I gasped and took a step back, my head is pounding.

"Everything ok, Timothy?" Oswald asks.

"I am fine. Didn't sleep much last night," I responded.

Walking home, I found my next inspiration. Across the street is a flower growing out of concrete between two brownstone apartment buildings. I immediately went up to my room and locked the door with a do not disturb sign on it.

I set up my canvas and dipped my brush into the paint I bought. My little brothers knocked on my door, asking me to play, but I ignored them. I didn’t feel myself in the room anymore. I just saw my imagination coming to life. All of my five senses are laser-focused on completing this portrait. When I finished the painting, I fell backward on the floor with the palette still in my hands, marveling over the masterpiece I birthed into the world. I didn't realize three hours had passed. My Mom knocked on the door.

I opened my door, and my mom held the do not disturb sign, asking, “Timothy, you couldn't have made some time to play with your younger brothers?" She looks around at my portraits covering every square inch of space in my room, except for the bed I sleep on.

"You should take a break. You have a gift for creating art, but it's unhealthy to obsess over something more than your family that is alive and breathing right now. Remember what I told you when we did the dishes last night," Mom tells me. I understand what she's saying, but I can't help myself.

"I understand," I said to make her feel better. I walked across the hall to my brother's room, and they are playing video games together on the floor.

"Hey guys, can I join in?" I asked.

"Sorry big bro, we already started an online tournament. We won't be able to add you as a player for a little while," Tyler tells me.

They both went back to playing. I walked halfway down the stairs and peeked at Mom and Dad cuddling on the couch, watching a movie together.
Back in my room, I stared at the ceiling, looking years into the future to see who I could become. The success revealed itself to me as a slideshow of my art, making it for the entire world to see. In these visions I created, my family isn't a part of it, just me and my accomplishments.

Today my father wanted me to help him fix the car. He is looking forward to sharing his passion for cars with me. My father knows everything about cars since his father was a mechanic for thirty years. I don't care much about tools and fixing things. I went underneath the car with my Dad, and he asks me to pass him the tools needed as he tells me stories about his childhood. After a while, I heard nothing but mumbling. He taps me on the shoulder to get my attention.

"I lost you there for a second. I hope this isn't boring to you, son," he says.

I answered, "I am not bored."

"Please grab the wrench with the blue handle, son," he requests.

I grabbed the wrench, and he gives me instructions on what to do with it. I tried several times to do what he wanted but kept messing up. After messing up again, I slammed the wrench down beside me.

"Timothy, don't get mad. This stuff takes time to get used to. You're going to have to open your world to other things. When you become a grown man, you can't keep painting all the time," my father expresses. I slid myself out from under the car and walked away.

"Come on, son, don't be that way," Father states.

"You have two other sons who will make you proud with this type of stuff. Show them," I commented, walking back inside. Playing with a paintbrush in my hands, my father knocks on the door.

"Son, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Do you want to talk about it?" My Dad suggests.

"I'm fine, Dad. I don't want to talk," I answered. There is nothing to talk about because nobody understands me.

Later that night, I went for a stroll in town and walked past all the families going out and people going on their romantic dates. I never had a girlfriend before. Most of the guys at my college have girlfriends or talk about girls all the time. I walked by a popular club and saw some people from my neighborhood and school campus dancing and having their version of a good time. I can't join them and experience that because I am too different.

One of the guys saw me standing outside and waved me over, but I walked away. I went to the white steps leading up to the city's museum and sat on them. Although the museum is closed, I find it comfortable here.

The next day after a painting seminar, I saw a package for me at the door. I opened the package, and it is another award dedicated to Mr. Timothy Colors. I went inside and placed the trophy in my awards cabinet. I smiled and touched the glass with satisfaction to see that I am one step closer to being the world's greatest artist. I realized today is my Mother's birthday, and I forgot to get her something. I ran back out to the local floral shop, but all the flowers were sold out. So I ran to the convenience store, but the birthday cards are out of stock too.

I walked back into the house, and my brothers and Dad showered my mom with flowers and chocolates.

"Happy birthday, Mom," I said, with little enthusiasm because of the guilt and shame I feel for not getting her anything.

"What's wrong?" My mother asks.

"Uh oh, Timothy forgot to get you something," Jeremy comments.

My mom questions, "is that true, my son?"

I explained, "I am sorry, Mom. I just-"

She cuts me off and asks, "Just what? Thought painting was more important?"

"Honey," my dad says, rubbing her shoulder, trying to resolve the awkward situation.

"No, this is not right. It's not about getting me anything expensive. Timothy, you are too caught up in your own world, making you forget about important days as a family."

My mom expresses to me. I didn't know what to say. Even when I tried to explain myself, the words won't come out. I ran up to my room and grabbed a sketch pad and pencil, and ran down the stairs out of my home.

I went to an area where people went fishing by the lake and cried. After crying, I tried to drown away these feelings, not in this body of water but on the sketch pad. Every time I drew, my tears smudged my drawing, so I kept turning the page to a new one. I threw the pad in front of me and yelled at the top of my lungs.

"Hey, come on, you will scare the fish away, young man," a fisherman tells me. I drew sketches all night until I knew everyone would be asleep in the house.
When I got home, I peeked into my parent's room and whispered, "I am sorry."

The following morning, instead of smelling the apple wood smoked bacon mom makes on the frying pan, or hearing my brothers run up and down the stairs, or my dad making another business call, it is silent. I went downstairs, and everyone is gone, but on the coffee table is the red book. I sat down on the sofa and rubbed my palm over the hardcover. Engraved on the red cover is the phrase scrapbook of memories. Although I know not to open this book, this time, maybe it's ok to do so.

As I turn the cellophane pages of this scrapbook, it paints the story of a family I never took the time to appreciate—photographs of me when I was just a baby up to this point. The colors around me melted away. The walls, chairs, lights, everything lost their color and became gray. Photos of me at this age and later on in life. How could this be if those events did not happen yet?

My hands are wrinkled, and that old man I saw a few times is now me. I finished going through the scrapbook, and all the success I imagined became real. This home is entirely different than it was a few minutes ago. I remember why I didn't want to open this scrapbook ever again. On the back cover of the book is a posted note. The sticky note reminded me that when reading the scrapbook, the illusion I created for myself of living in the past would melt away.

I walked over to where all of my world-class achievements are stored. Newspaper articles of me with public figures and celebrities, books written about me, museum nominations, and every single material possession I could imagine that celebrates my art career while I have been living a lie.

My family is long gone because I pushed them away to make room for my art. I stepped outside and went for a walk. Everyone who I walked past praised me. As stocked as my award cabinet is, I feel empty inside. If I had the chance to trade it away to have my family back, I would. The arts and crafts shop that I would religiously visit isn't there anymore. It's just a vacant lot. Beside me is a flower growing out of the concrete, and I knelt beside it.

"It's never too late to start anew," I said to the flower.

I went to the cemetery and stood over my mother and father's graves. I remember my brothers aren't in touch with me anymore after our parents passed away. They are still holding a grudge against me for how I treated everyone, and they have every right not to have wanted to keep in touch. I don't know where to start looking for them, even if I tried to reconcile. The cost of fame of being one of the world's greatest painters washed away the ones who counted more than any portrait.

I laid a flower down where my mother's headstone is and said, "I missed your birthday. I hope you still find it in your heart to accept this."

I took the wrench my dad tried to show me how to use and placed it down on his grave.

"Father, I am sorry for not letting you share your passion with me," I expressed to him.

Back at my black and white home, I took down all of my most prized portraits and covered my glass cabinet of trophies with a curtain. I propped up a white canvas and took my watercolors out. I painted myself at this age with my family from back in the day. Mother, you were right. Time flies by too fast, and I have been living a lie, telling myself that it was ok to act the way I did in my youth. I hung up my new painting in my home as the first one since accepting the truth, and the gray became color once more. I walked to the lake and saw a kid sketching a beautiful drawing of the lake and the sky.

She looks at me and says, "You look familiar. You're that famous painter guy, right?"

I answered, "I'm just a regular guy."


Michael Colon was born and grew up in New York City. His mission is to continue to impact the lives of others using his craft. He has a deep passion for writing that allows him to communicate with others deeply. He describes his writing as introspective, reflective, bold, productive, positive, and thoughtful. His stories and blogs are published in several magazines.


Our Contributors !!

Some of our writers!

  • We occasionally invite writers to send their musings. Do send in your work, and we will host it here.
  • Do visit the Submit page to submit your work.