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Raindrops on Roses

Lotus is not a famous painter, but she hopes her latest painting will change that

The sky was gray, and the sun was blocked by clouds and by fog, layer upon layer.

Young Lotus sat in her studio. She was a painter, but she was not famous.

Lotus was cleaning the house. There was not much good furniture in her home, and her studio was very shabby. The interior decorations were khaki-colored.

Her husband, Joe Fellow, had gone out early to attend a friend’s wedding. Why wasn’t Lotus there? Oh, my friend, only the upper class can participate in such a solemn and gorgeous wedding! Lotus had sold her wedding dress that year. In addition, she didn’t have any gorgeous clothes. Naturally, she could not be regarded as upper class and so was not qualified to go to the event. Joe still had a lot of suits, so he could often appear at major celebrations and superior events.

As Lotus swept up the dust, she opened the curtains. The city, Société, was outside the window. The people were beautiful in this city, and Fellow, which means friendly and social, was a common name there.

*          *          *

“Near Banbridge town, in the County Down, one morning last July,” a folk singer sang at the wedding ceremony, though he didn’t seem to get much praise. Suddenly, a man stood up and grabbed the singer.

“Stop!” The man said.

“S-Sir, I am performing for free for you all . . .” The singer was terrified.

The man slapped the singer on his face and said, “What on earth are you singing about? And what are you wearing?! It’s disgusting!” The man pointed at the singer. It was true that the singer’s dress was not too formal, but it was not ugly.

“Sing . . . sing . . . sing this!” the man said and smashed the singer’s guitar.

“Wait! That’s my instrument, my property!” The singer was angry and desperate. A good guitar would take him about half a year to save for.

“Guards!” At the man’s command, several security guards dragged the singer out.

“Brute! I—” the singer’s fury was stopped by a punch from the security guard.

Then the symphony orchestra started to play, and people listened with great interest, occasionally exclaiming, “This is the music of gentlemen!”

The wedding proceeded methodically.

*          *          *

Lotus painted at home. A bird landed on her window howling, and the flowers bloomed in the yard. She would soon create a painting. Soft lines and harmonious colors would make up the beautiful painting.

Dusk was coming. The evening wind gently touched everything. Although it was autumn, Lotus seemed filled by the bright warmth of spring. Her pace was light and pleasant, and she took great delight in everything.

“Dear, I’m back.” Joe pushed the door open and took off his coat.

“How was the wedding today, Joe?”

“Great, Lotus.”

“When can we have such a wedding, Joe? I really wish we could have another wedding celebration. It was too short last time. Maybe for our golden anniversary?”

“No point. We don’t have that kind of money.”

“Well, if that’s what you say.” Lotus’s spirits were broken. “Joe, you must go to work.” Lotus looked very sad as she spoke.

“You! Don’t bother me!” Joe’s face changed greatly—the wrinkles on his face became more pronounced, and the shadows on his face also deepened.

The night was shrouded like a layer of cages, trapping people’s hearts.

Lotus was crying and walking. Her steps tottered and her body wobbled. After two steps, she sat down by the roadside and covered her face.

“If you don’t want to make money, can you sell your suit? Then at least we can buy paint and I can make money by painting,” said Lotus in a lower and lower voice.

“Woman! What do you know?! How am I supposed to get into upper society without this suit?!” cried Joe to Lotus.

“You only know idleness!” Lotus shouted, unable to hold back her anger. But she didn’t dare do anything else and started crying.

“If you want money, sell your ruined paintings!” Joe scolded Lotus angrily, and then he dragged Lotus and her painting outside.

“Go! Go!” Lotus was pushed out of the door by Joe.

*          *          *

The night was shrouded like a layer of cages, trapping people’s hearts.

Lotus was crying and walking. Her steps tottered and her body wobbled. After two steps, she sat down by the roadside and covered her face.

The beauty of love comes from instinct. The tragedy of love comes from instinct too. Instinct, however, can never be explained.

She began to regret it, but it was too late. Time ran too fast, and regret came too late. She was no longer a young, beautiful girl.

A thin man in a white suit came over. “Oh, lovely lady, what’s wrong with you?” This man was Kopil, the most famous painter in the city.

Lotus whispered what had happened to her. Kopil looked at Lotus’s painting. “Ah, this is so beautiful! Can I buy it?”

“Sir, this painting costs a hundred dollars.”

“No, this painting is bound to be a famous painting.” With that said, Kopil took out $300 from his bag.

“Thank you, sir,” Lotus said, clutching at her skirt. Her tears still streamed down her face.

On her way home, her steps were trembling and her body was shaking. She didn’t want to go back, but where else could she go?

At home, Lotus put the money on the table and cried again.

“Shut your mouth! You only know how to cry!” Joe roared.

Lotus cried harder than ever.

*          *          *

One afternoon a few days later, it was still grey, and there were no more sounds of insects or birds outside. Winter was coming, and the trees were bare.

Joe was leisurely reading a newspaper. He had not seen that the back edition was printed with Lotus’s painting. The caption read, “The latest work of the great painter Kopil.” The words jumped into Lotus’s eyes, and she snatched the newspaper.

“You! What are you doing?” Joe looked at Lotus.

“Joe! This painting is mine! I sold it to Kopil!” Lotus said.

“Are you crazy? That’s a masterpiece by Kopil! How could you draw such a picture?! You’re an ordinary painter. Don’t bother me!” Joe said.

This time, Lotus rushed out of the house. Her steps were strong and hasty. She couldn’t believe that the guy who had benevolently given to her a few days ago could have done such a thing. She felt like she was spinning around and like everything outside had changed even though there was no change.

She ran to the door of the newspaper office, where a group of people were surrounding Kopil. They were chatting and looking up at Kopil with reverent eyes. She tried to squeeze into the crowd but failed.

“Kopil! You stole my painting!” she shouted, and the crowd around him parted.

“Who is this woman? I don’t know her! She’s making a rumor!” Kopil shouted.

For a moment, it seemed as if the sky were dark, and people said:

“This woman must be crazy!

“How could she paint such a work?

“How dare she speak to our Kopil like this!”

Their words echoed in Lotus’s head, and she rushed back to the house, her steps so crooked that she could hardly stand. She began to cry.

“Lotus, I think I was wrong. The painting is indeed yours,” Joe said.

Lotus took Joe in her arms and cried, but she didn’t see him looking at the money on the table.

“Lotus, is that really what you painted? No, after all, you can’t make such a good painting,” Joe said.

“Joe—you—” Lotus’s eyes were a little red, and she felt terrified and wronged. Even her husband suspected her.

“Or else? You can wait for the waves to subside and then paint for Kopil, so maybe we can make more—”

“Shut up!” Lotus shouted. She felt as if she were struggling in the mire.

Noise and ridicule kept coming from the crowd, and the sound was like a knife constantly pressing into Lotus’s heart:

“Why don’t you say that van Gogh stole your painting?! I just want to say that Picasso copied my three-year-old son’s graffiti!”

Lotus sat still amidst this hustle and bustle, her numb eyes and stiff body like a dry lotus seedpod.

*          *          *

The next day, when a stretcher wrapped in white cloth was lifted out of Lotus’s house, the crowd surged again.

“Oh my God! How pathetic! It’s that unusual painter!” they whispered about the painter who would never be mentioned again.

Jinhui He
Jinhui He, 12
Beijing, China

Apoorva Panidapu
Apoorva Panidapu, 14
San Jose, CA