With Emerald Eyes

My breaths were heavy. I stood still. I could feel my heart pumping blood through my veins. My hands were weighing my body down. My feet felt as though they were melting into the floor, where I will be a liquid pool of regret and misery. Tears were welling in the corners of my eyes. They slowly made their way down my face like the small creeks on a mountain. My focus was fixed on the door. The door to my pied-à-terre apartment was especially designed by me and for me. Crafted from cherry wood, its simplistic design was inspired by the crown molding of old gothic churches. It was built so strong. The solid wooden door made it heavy to swing open, and the harshest summer winds wouldn’t allow it to slam shut when the windows were open. However, at that moment, the door did slam. It slammed so hard a tiny crack appeared within the door handle and the threshold. With blurred vision I wiped my tears and looked into the crack. I could feel the burning passion of hate and anger being produced from the golden knob. I could feel the hurt and tears within that tiny crack.

I was on my knees until they were bloody red. Looking into that crack that was just centimeters wide and I wept. I wept so long and loud. I took everything that I knew and loved, and pushed it all into a fist. I was hitting the door so hard, just to get out all of the anger I held against myself. The bloody knuckle prints were like constant bevels and shapes making uneven waves of red. I wept cursing my own name. I wept cursing my stubborn mind. I wept because I allowed myself to be alone…again. I don’t know how long I was there. Time seemed to be infinite at that moment. Like the pain and suffering was going to be my eternal punishment. I was going to endure the torturing churn in my gut. My body was feeling as if it rain out of tears. I was still making the noises but no tears were coming. I fell forward collapsing into the door. With one final breath I managed to release a cry for help. The only person I could ever show any sign of weakness in front of, the person I could lean on, the person I loved. 
 Dakota.

So, that’s what they call stunned. 
 Someone becoming very confused, dizzy, or even unconscious. When I woke up on the floor, I was still in a state of shock. I pulled myself off the ground, taking one last finalized look at the crack in the door.

Dusk crept through the curtains, and the nightfall begun to make its way into the living room. I run to the floor-to-ceiling windows and look out into the park. I could always see this old rusted bench from here. It had moss growing on it, and it looked like it was going to cave in once the next person sat on it. This bench is where the whole story technically begins. It’s the bench where I found myself questioning my future. It’s where I would go every Wednesday, rain or shine. Just to make sure I don’t miss the chance to see Dakota. Alas, it was just a bench, a bench that was there long before me, and will probably be there long after. 
 I wasn’t crying anymore. I just accepted the silence that surrounded me. I broke my gaze from the park, and onto my own reflection. I couldn’t motivate myself to let go of the window sill. I just stood there sick to my stomach. My eyes were almost completely red, and dark circles hung so deeply under my eyes. I pressed my hand against my forehead to make sure I wasn’t running a fever. My color had gone and I was pale white. That’s when I vomited covering my reflection and stopping the loathing I started to feel for myself.

My parents grew up in Southern France. Their story was a cliché Romeo and Juliet. They were born into low class grape farmers. During one of the annual grape festival their eyes met across a field where their parents set up tents to have people taste their crops. Knowing they wouldn’t be allowed to fall in love with their parents being competitors they met in secrecy until they were 18. They ran away from home, snuck onto a cargo ship, and set sail to The Port of Virginia, USA, never looking back. Over dinner, my parents would tell such interesting stories about the “old country”. My father would talk about the disgusting insects they would find making a home in an entanglement of grapes. My mother would tell us how she would groan as she crushed grapes with her bare feet alongside her mother.

Throughout my primary school education kids were focused on who was getting homecoming queen, and who was going to the football game. I was more focused on things like reading and playing outside. In high school, I became fond of painting due to an elective freshman class. Most of the kids were looking for an easy A, including myself. My teacher, at the time, was so passionate about painting. The kids just over looked her. They would gossip and play on their phones about who kissed who. But my teacher didn’t mind. She allowed the kids who were interested to stay interested, and those who weren’t to fail. It didn’t take long to feel a connection to her. It was the first time I ever felt like someone was like me. For our final project, I painted a portrait of my parents meeting for the first time. They were separated by a lush green patch of earth. They wore rags of brown and gray. Holding woven baskets filled with hues of purples and blues. But you can see they were gazing at each other from across the green patch as they fell in love.

Now, the painting was awful. It was nowhere near perfect. My technique needed work. I didn’t know any other forms of paint other than oil based. I couldn’t even memorize what brushes to use, let alone the stoke pattern. I knew I needed a lot of work and a lot of practice. However, that picture made me feel alive. It was a touching, beautiful story I had the ability to convey within a blank canvas. I understood why my teacher was so passionate about painting. She truly helped me channel my creativity into work and beauty.

Many years later, and many, many late night lessons, I made it 26 years old. I studied Fine Arts at The Art Institute in Boston, where I currently reside. I stand tall at 6’2. 
 My hair is a deep brown and shaved close to the sides, with a little curly puff sitting on top of my head. 
 My skin was bronzed, like I had lived in the tropics all my life. 
 My eyes stood out directly under all of the dark features. 
 My lashes were a thick black, and they created an illusion of heavy mascara. Under the dark forest of lashes were deep green eyes. Emeralds, my mother used to call them. 
 She would say I could stop traffic if in the blink of an eye. It’s actually a birth defect. My families’ genes don’t carry green colored eyes. So, I was able to use them to my advantage, and be extremely recognizable behind my artwork.

The latest piece I finished was inspired by a simple walk in the park. The air was warm, and spring had just completed bloom. The stars were bright, popping in and out of the black velvet that surrounded them. I was leisurely walking home one evening. The sound of well-built stilettos clicked towards me, taking my attention off the night sky. A woman in a hot pink, plastic over coat was walking towards me. She had knarred hair and indigo eye shadow that went above her eyebrows. The way she walked reminded me of a crooked river; bending and quirky, but flowing strong, mighty, and proud. At first glance, you wouldn’t understand that.

The piece I developed was a hot pink flowing river, with many bends and edges, and all of the forest animals happily drinking from its lush waves. I always made a point to share my income with those individuals who helped inspire me, and she was one of them. I was at the Museum of Fine Arts when I revealed this piece. I brought the young woman up, and let it be known that sex workers are people to, and if they are happy, their profession should be protected.

Some people may argue that my work was more appealing than my physicality. I have to agree with them. I based my pieces on real life events. I have to be in the life of ordinary people. In order to create you must see the world through their eyes. I feel very emotionally attached when I develop a piece. It’s almost like falling in love. It’s a special moment where the paint brush and myself have a intimate connection. I start telling the brush stories, and the brush shows me how to visualize them. I’ve never been romantically involved. The closest thing I am able to find to this raw, open, naked love, is art.

My name is Montgomery. This is my rebirth.