The Art of Love
Hey Dearies! I know this one is a little late, but I wanted to make sure I took a little extra time on this one. It’s not exactly like the prompt, but I did add in a little twist of it.
Two dirt-poor art students survive by sharing a nasty little apartment above a bodega. They struggle through four years, barely making ends meet, comforting one another through tragedies and triumph, but never openly admit how they feel about each other…until they graduate, and one of them gets a job in another city. Is it too late to confess their love?
Living in New York City wasn’t easy, let alone being a paint. Jackie Brown wanted to see her name on every billboard, street store, and all over New York. Since she was 3, that was always her dream.
Her father was a famous painter himself, as so as her mother. Once they had her, Jackie’s mother felt that her child was holding her back from becoming famous and so let Jackie and her husband to New York.
Last time Jackie saw her mother, was 10 years ago. Now, she was 23, fresh from college and off to make her hobby into her dream, however, New York was expensive. Jackie’s father wanted to come with her, to make sure her dreams really did come true, but Jackie didn’t want her father to help her on that journey.
She wanted this one by herself.
After being in New York for a few days, she managed to find a place for her to stay in. Kenny Hunt was her only available option, especially with money being so tight, she didn’t want to be left on the streets.
Climbing up to the 3rd floor, onto an old book store, she knocked onto the door, with the faded ‘3C’ that sat on an old wooden door. After a minute or two, the door finally opened with Kenny behind it.
“Jackie, right?” He asked.
“Yes.” She nodded, giving him a soft smile as he opened the door more for her to come in. “Thank you again for this.”
She turned to face him, looking at his dirty blond hair and bright blue eyes. As she gazed into his eyes, he looked like he was hurt inside, like someone has ripped his heart out from his body and stuffed it in a trash can.
Kenny turned away, walking back to his canvas, ignoring her. As she looked around, she notices this was a very old room, it was a room that didn’t look like it was used for sleeping at all. The wide-open space had faded, cracked dark wooden floors. The paint used for the walls was faded and looked like there once were mirrors that inclosed the place.
As she turned to her left, there was a mini hall, looked like there were a few other rooms and hopefully a bathroom. Behind her was a stove, sink, and fridge that looked out of place from this room, but more than an old dance studio was out of place for any of this.
She didn’t see any mattresses or beds for her, in the opened space. Instead, the opened spaces were covered with canvases, paint, and brushes. It was like heaven to Jackie, making this choice the best one she had made for herself.
“Where can I put my stuff?” She asked, as his blue eyes looked up from the canvas.
“Down the hall to the right. Just don’t go into my room.” Kenny snapped as he went back to painting. Jackie was curious to know what he was painted but instead went to put her stuff away.
After being there for a few weeks, Jackie got herself comfortable, but Kenny seemed to rather ignore her. She had tried to work up the courage to place an empty canvas on one of the many empty easels, but hadn’t.
Brushstroke after brushstroke, she watched him from afar, not wanting her to see her eyes on him, she watched him move the brush back and forth like it was a dance he knew how to dance. Not to mention she couldn’t help but notice his arms had a few tattoos, but the one that caught her eye the most was the tree tattoo inside his left arm.
She wanted to ask him about it, it was the only one that she had noticed that was fairly new to his body, as the other tattoos he had were more faded. It took her a minute to realize that the tattoo was the tree from Lord of the Rings.
She got up and walked out of her room and slowly approached Kenny. He looked up for a second but turned away back to his piece. As she got closer, she noticed that his painting wasn’t of any object or item, that she thought it was, it was simply a mess of different colors of blacks and greys.
It was different from what her parents have painted before, but they were more into landscapes, such as mountains, hills, forests, and lakes. This was solid, but it spoke to her that something in his past had made him paint this way.
“What?” Kenny snapped, jumping Jackie, as she was zoned into his piece, rather than him.
“I-I was wondering if could use that spare easel?” She spoke nervously, she wanted to ask about his tree tattoo, but she had forgotten it, getting lost in his eyes.
Kenny changed his emotion, looked rather more confused like he didn’t think she would ask something from him so bold. “You paint too?” He asked as she nodded.
“I do, my parents do, too.” She said as he looked at her.
“Go for it.” He said, going back to his easel. Jackie was so enlightened that she ran to grab her supplies and set them up next to the easel.
Over the next couple of months, the started to bond over their love of painting and art. As much as they wanted to spend all of their time painting, Kenny had a part-time job down at the book store and Jackie had just gotten a job as a florist, that was also down the street.
Jackie had just finished her latest creation, it was of a couple, standing in the middle of the rain, sharing a deep kiss, with the background having rainfall underneath them all, not giving a care in the world as to what would happen.
It reminded her of her last love, that were that couple she painted. He had her heart, but she didn’t want it. She had gotten pregnant, but ended up losing the baby, which changed their relationship although. He wanted to settle down and build a giant family, as Jackie just wanted to paint and when she was ready, start a family.
That was their last kiss goodbye. They didn’t want to hold each other back and wanted to have one last kiss before they moved onto different lifestyles. Hence, why she wanted to leave New York.
Kenny came over, as she signed off of her painting. “Incredible, really.” He touched her shoulder as she watched him look into every detail she put into the painting. “What are going to call it?”
Jackie took a minute to think about it, coming up with the titles of her paintings was harder than it was for her parents. “Not sure yet.” Still admiring her work.
She glanced at Kenny’s easel, he had just a blank canvas, naked, as Jackie liked to call it. Ever since she started to paint in the same room as him, his painting has changed from dark and depression, to more artistic and creative, making them more appealing to the eye.
Her heart fluttered each time he would come up to her and watched her paint, as she would do the same. She had tried to open him and get him to talk to her, but he was a locked door, not letting anyone in.
That all changed. Jackie was working at her job when she got a phone call from the office from her mother. She wanted to let her know she was dying from cancer. That was the real reason why she left in the first place, she didn’t want Jackie to see her.
Jackie’s heart dropped as she got off the phone, it all made sense, she wondered why her father was always upset and depressed, but she thought it was because her mother had left, choosing her work over the family when really she was getting treatment for her breast cancer.
After work, when she got home, she didn’t say anything to Kenny, as he watched as she sadly went into her bedroom. She wasn’t in the mood to talk, didn’t even feel like painting, which was a first for her because she had always loved to paint.
“Jackie?” Kenny called out, but there was no reply from her, he didn’t want to intrude. It made him worry about her. Her happy self was what was keeping him inspired to paint masterpieces ever since his little sister had passed away.
Instead of answering Kenny, she curled herself up in a ball on her mattress and started to cry. There was nothing she could do, but felt like she needed to do something. She wanted to go to her happy place, but painting sounded so foreign to her.
She felt Kenny’s eyes on her like he was drilling a laser into her head. As much as she wanted Kenny’s attention, there was something more that she wanted. A distraction.
Siting up from her bed, she looked over at Kenny, as he sat on the bed beside her, gazing at his blue eyes, but her eyes wandered to his lips. “Is everything okay?” He asked, but instead of answering him, she leaned into his faces and pressed her lips against his.
Kenny froze for a second, not realizing that her lips were upon his, he didn’t know how to react, but before he could embrace the kiss, she had pulled away. Kenny’s mind was questioning if he should kiss her back or leave the room awkwardly.
Jackie looked back at him, waiting for his response, but his face looked confused. Did she kiss him wrong? She thought, but maybe it was too sudden for him, she thought again.
Until he caught her off guard and very slowly placed his lips together with hers.
She was lost into the moment, embracing Kenny’s warmth that she so craved, however, instead of taking their clothes off to get further lost into each other’s arms, they both laid down on her bed, and had him embrace her, snuggling up close together and making her feel something that she hadn’t felt in a long time.
As he brushed a strand of hair from her face, she finally spoke, telling him about her mother and her condiction.
“Go to her, you should spend your last moments together,” Kenny spoke, as much as it killed him to see her go, not knowing how long she would be gone for or if she would ever come back, he didn’t want to miss out on those final moments that he did with his sister.
“I can’t, I don’t have the money,” Jackie said as he understood her situation, he was in the same boat, being an inspiring artist wasn’t easy. He had been doing odd jobs, just to save up for an apartment, but it was never enough.
The next morning, Jackie was left alone in her bed, Kenny had stayed with her all night long, just to make sure she was okay, but he wasn’t next to her. She got up and started getting ready for the day, when she saw a note on the fridge, with enough money to get her to see her mother and possibly come back.
‘Don’t miss another moment away from your mother. You’ll regret it in the end.’ – Kenny
She smiled, as he was right. Quickly, she packed a few things and took the train to the other side of town, trying to make sure she was able to get to the hospital in time. Once she arrived, she was greeted by her father.
He hugged her tightly in his arms. “I missed you, buttercup.” He said, calling her by her childhood nickname. He started calling her that when she picked out some flowers from their garden and they happened to be buttercups.
Jackie didn’t want to let go from her father’s embrace, but slowly turned to look into the small hospital room, she could see her mother, looking pain and cold.
Her eyes started to water as he came closer to her mother’s bed, she was still alive but looked like she was barely holding on. “Mommy?” She spoke, making her mother awake and open her eyes to see her daughter.
Jackie came closer to her mother and hugged her tightly as she could, she was so weak, but was glad her daughter was sitting next to her. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you.” Her mother spoke, as she held onto Jackie’s hand.
“Don’t worry about it, what matters is that I’m here for you,” Jackie said, kissing her mother’s hand and wiping her tears.
Jackie shared everything that was going on in her life, now. She even talked about Kenny, to her surprise, her mother said that he would be perfect for her. They played a few games, up until her mother was too weak to do so.
She died 2 months later after their last game of Uno. The last thing Jackie told her was to never give on chasing your dreams. Jackie knew she would never forget, but it made her think about Kenny. He was her new dream now, she needed to share her life with someone and he was perfect for her.
After the funeral, she said her last goodbyes to her father and headed back on the train, even though her mother had passed, she was wanting to get back to Kenny and to tell him how she felt about him.
Going up to their apartment, she was worried that he wouldn’t want to talk to her, after taking the money he gave to her to see her dying mother, but maybe he would. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door, watching Kenny stand in the middle of the studio, painting, he almost dropped his paintbrush when he saw her.
Jackie dropped her bag, and ran to him, embracing into his arms, not caring if he was covered in paint or not. She looked into his eyes and the waterworks just came down. He understood her pain as to lose something, but kept her in his arms.
“I missed you so much, Jackie. You have no idea.” He said, looking into Jackies eyes, wiping away the tears from her face, as he turned to face her to all the work he had done when she was gone. It was all pictures of her.
One of them was when she was puzzled on painting and ended up getting paint on her face. Another was of her dancing. The more she kept looking at the paintings, she realized that he returned the feelings for her, but there was one painting that caught her eye.
It was a painting of them, laying on her bed together, after their first kiss and how she told him about her mother. She didn’t know how he did it, but it was perfect. “I love this one,” Jackie said as Kenny came closer.
“Not as much as I love you,” Kenny spoke as Jackie stared at him in amazement. “I understand if you don’t return the feelings, but I do love you and I just needed to tell you.”
Jackie then pressed her lips against his, embracing his presence and telling him that she accepted his feelings for her. She pulled away, leaning their foreheads together as she smiled. “I love you too.”
Let me know in the comments of what you thought about this short story! These will be posted every Friday and if you have a prompt or idea that you would like me to try out, let me know in the comments!