Her nose was the hardest part. It had the slightest curve like the bending of branches in the breeze. When he held her close, he walked his fingertips along the ridge, hoping to commit its shape to memory. Regardless, he never seemed to get it right in his paintings. The portraits never did her justice.
He sat by the blank canvas in his home studio. Rain pounded the windows of the empty house. The hollow sound echoed within his broken chest. He thought of her face, that unique nose, and furiously slapped a red X on his canvas. She used to pose for him in the afternoon. No one posed for him now.
She died on a Tuesday. He was at her bedside, whispering, “You can’t leave me, Lily. How can I go on without my muse?”
Three months later, he still hadn’t found the answer to that question. He threw his paintbrush across the room and kicked the wobbly leg of his easel. The canvas with the X flopped to the floor. He stomped through the fabric, ignoring the sting of fresh tears in his eyes. He was too angry to let himself grieve.
Although the rain hadn’t stopped, he flung open the door and jogged to the center of his backyard. The frigid droplets hammered his shirt and trickled through his thinning hair. He looked up at the thick clouds as a knot formed in his throat. The man had never felt so lost.
He turned back towards the house when the shivers hit. On his way inside, he realized the dismal weather had washed out most of his garden. However, a single flower had survived. It was a lily. A smile formed.
With gusto, he rushed back to his studio. His brush danced enthusiastically across a fresh canvas. When the painting was done, he could breathe. He had painted a vibrant lily growing in a world of gray and muck. It was a pillar of light in the darkness, his darkness, and it was sent by her.
“You’ll always be my inspiration,” he murmured. “Always.”