The first time he saw her she was painting pictures in the sky, invisible paintbrush in hand, dripping imaginary ink. Her lips were curved into a smile and he wondered what she could possibly see that was beautiful on the dark, dank street that she stood upon.
He watched with silent fascination as she focused on her task, broad sweeping strokes and small flicks of wrists. The longer he watched the more he noticed. Small things, like the fact it was late autumn, the air crisp with the hint of snow in the night sky, and yet she only wore a thin sweater. Or that her hands were shaking slightly, the fingers turning an unhealthy looking blue the longer she held them in the air.
His bus came and went and yet he didn’t move. His feet were riveted in their footholds, his back glued firmly to where he rested against the bus stop sign. The next bus would come soon enough and he sensed that she wasn’t finished her masterpiece yet. For some odd reason it seemed imperative that he wait until it was complete.
Finally her hands stopped moving and were tucked under armpits to warm. Watching her he was shocked to find her glance over shyly and ask, “Do you like it?”
“I do,” he answered, surprised to find he meant the words that dribbled from his mouth.
She cocked her head and looked at him, her gaze surprisingly sharp and lucid. “What do you see?” she asked quietly.
He paused, trying to think of the right words to explain her phenomenon. “I see dreams,” he finally answered, “dreams and hopes and fantasy all rolled into a world so magical it can only be seen through the artist’s eye.”
Bright lights danced in her eyes as she clapped her hands, the sound hollow and muffled against the whirr of traffic and blare of horns on the street behind them. Her smile however outshone the soft glow of streetlights and the silver moon hanging low through the skyscrapers. “You must be an artist then,” she reasoned.
He nodded absentmindedly, his gaze focused on her hands. Artist fingers - calloused and stained but cracked dry from the chilly weather. A frown formed between his brows and he brought one of his own hands up to his lips, biting the fabric of his mitts as he used his teeth to tug the garment off. Once one hand was free it was easy to remove the other and grasp her hands.
Surprisingly she said not a word as he slid the warm gloves over her cold fingers then rubbed them between his palms, warming them. “Artist hands are special,” he mused softly as he let them go and took a step back. “With them we can create worlds to hide in and be free. They should never be damaged.”
“What about yours?” she asked softly, eyes bright with gratefulness as she inspected the wool covering her fingers.
He shrugged in a nonchalant manner, “I’ll find another pair. Right now I think you need them more than I do.”
His bus arrived then, the last one of the night and he knew he had to go, away from the girl with bold dreams painted in dreary alleys, the girl with the sallow cheeks and un-kept hair who was surprisingly beautiful under the skin. He nodded his head at her as the doors of his ride swished open and he put a foot onto its yellow lined steps. And as the door shut behind him, ensconcing him in warmth he heard her say, “I was painting a fire to keep me warm, but now I have dreams and mitts to curl up into.”
It was the best gift he’d ever received.
Weird muses going at it again, I think this one was born from the Sermon on Sunday. I wrote it in about 15 minutes or less so I am sorry if there are any mistakes, I feel rather sick and my brain hurts to much to try editing it.