Last week I blogged about my characters’ heroes. This week, one of my characters takes it a step further. In Bianca’s surreal encounter with her hero, Frida Kahlo, fact and fiction intersect; Frida’s lines are her own words.
A large palette splotched with color encircled Frida like a giant hoop skirt.
Bianca was at her desk, dipping an old-fashioned quill pen into an ink well and drawing lines across a scroll of parchment.
Grasping a stiff-bristled detail brush, Frida made hatching motions near the top of her canvas, completing a row of eyebrows.
Bianca couldn’t help but think the mirror image reflecting back at Frida in the form of a self portrait provided a porthole to her very soul.
As if unzipping Bianca’s skull and peeking in, Frida said, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”
“I’m here now,” Bianca offered, “and I could really use your help.”
A shrug from Frida, a tilt of her head while she examined her painting, obviously thinking of something else. “I don’t know how to write love letters.” She deposited her brush in a jar, picked up a fan brush, and loaded it with lemon and cadmium yellow simultaneously.
“It’s not exactly a love letter,” Bianca said, “but I need to tell him, or maybe myself, how I’m feeling.”
An unreadable expression from Frida. “There have been two great accidents in my life. One was the trolley, and the other was Diego. Diego was by far the worst.”
This gave Bianca pause. The accident which had crippled Frida, which had almost killed her, was not as devastating as the relationship with the love of her life? If that were the case, surely Bianca could say what she needed to. She forced herself to write, Dear. When she couldn’t even bring herself to add his name to complete the salutation, she scratched it out and turned her attention instead to an exquisite flower blooming at the end of Frida’s paintbrush.
“I paint flowers so they will not die.”
Frida seared Bianca with a look. “My painting carries with it the message of pain.”
Again, the contradiction stumped Bianca. Such beauty, such pain, coexisting.
Much time passed and Frida’s portrait was nearly complete, her paint nearly gone, each color having found its exact place in the masterpiece, while the page in front of Bianca held too much white space, a crossed-out salutation, meandering meaningless strokes.
Frida signed her name across the bottom of her canvas with a flourish, dropped her brush, and floated away from the encircling palette. She rose higher and higher, touched the ceiling with her fingertips, and then said with a chuckle, “Feet, what do I need them for if I have wings to fly.”
Bianca lay down her pen, drifted up to take Frida’s hand, and the two left by way of the open window.
What’s your story? Who would you gladly follow out an open window?