“You can’t sit all night painting, Lina.”
It’s gratifying, the feel of thick paint brushed across the fibers of a canvas; the intoxicating smell of turpentine filling up my nostrils; and seeing my fingers lavished in colors of different kinds like the ever-changing hues of the skies.
“It’s 2:30 in the morning. You should get some rest.”
They sing to me; I can hear them. Swoosh. The bristles of the paintbrush in my hand, they croon me.
“And you dyed your hair again. This is your third time in a month. Dying your hair frequently isn’t at all healthy, Lina.”
Their mouths agape, brimming with songs that are colors. This time, they’re singing yellow for these daffodils. Swoosh.
“Make sure you wash before going to bed, okay? You’ve stained almost every sheet we have. Lina? Are you listening?”
“Mm hm,” I hummed in response as I was snapped out from the bristles’ singing. I did not think of what I said; it felt more like of an impulse, a reflex. I looked behind me, and there I saw mom in her cashmere sleeping robe, standing by the door of my room and looking at me. I felt a bit surprised ‘cause I didn’t even hear the door cracked open. I just smiled at her. And she smiled back.
“Sweet dreams, honey.” She gently closed the door, but before it even touched the ledge, she swung it open again. “By the way, what are you painting tonight?” mom asked.
I moved a little so she can see what I am working on.
“Ah, daffodils for tonight,” mom nodded, beaming. “They look lovely.”
She says that every time she sees me paint —“They look lovely” “They’re beautiful” – but not one time I felt complimented no matter how hard she tries to sound affirming.
It’s ecstatic— to get lost in painting pretty flowers and pretty little things.
But it’s tiring— to stay up every night, perfecting their every elaborate detail, assuring that every intricacy would exhibit beauty; and vainly brooding that perhaps you could look like them— lovely— if every night you paint them in this canvas called your skin.
My mom, she compliments my masterpieces.
I wish tomorrow my masterpieces were me.
Photographed by Inah Maravilla
Styled by Neal P. Corpus and Inah Maravilla
Make-up by Aquinna Duyan and Nicole Valencia
Modeled by Chad Alviar, Manu Fernando, Rovin Mizuse, Geo Santos, Elejah Saiki, and Julia Velasquez
Assisted by Pamela Batac, Chelly Patalud, and Thea Torres