Canvas, By Carla Lobos


By Carla Lobos

“You need to make some more friends,” they said to me one day as I happily picked up a red crayon and focused my attention on a sheet of large white paper; my canvas to craft a new world.

“What do you mean? I have all the friends I could ever want!” I grin widely and zigged the crayon in one direction to zag it in the other. Bright flames in my shining eyes erupted from the paper as though they existed.

I just had to show Phoenix! “Look at this, Phoenix! Isn’t it wonderful! Just like your own wings…!” I could feel my teacher’s presence by me still. They placed their face in the palm of their hand and shook their head.

My eyes were fixed on Phoenix. Phoenix gave me a kind and warm smile just as always. Human beings struggle to understand the mind, but imaginary beings are directly from the mind so no words needed to be exchanged between the two of us. They loved it: told me it was wonderful and even gave me a tip on what to do for the background. Ecstatically, I nodded and dropped the red to the side so I could rummage in my bag and take out the green.

I was content with the beings I surrounded myself around. They understood me. They knew every crevice of my mind; explored every region, and could tell me more about me that I knew to be myself in the subconscious. Phoenix was with me everyday and didn’t simply leave at the end of the day like all the other physical beings at the preschool. They came to me whenever I wanted and stayed there until I closed my eyes.

They could even come and play in my dreams: dancing through imaginary fields with cotton candy clouds soaring above. It stretched far and wide into the planes of my mind’s creativity: my canvas to craft a new world.

I will never forget the wonderful whim of my young mind; seeing everything so pure and shiny in a transcending world of hope and imagination; an innocent world where everything you dreamt could come to life and grab hold of you. All of my intangible feelings manifested into more friends that could visit me during the day.

But I couldn’t stay forever, for everything there was figments of my imagination. They weren’t real. I needed to wake from this fantasy and meet reality. I was informed of the consequences of visiting the Land of Eden; what was going to happen to my mental health. I finally understood why everyone worried about me. In their eyes, I was simply dreaming, not living. I hated so much when I made other people worry, sad, and fearful of my well for the price of their happiness, I cut away mine.

“Goodbye Phoenix.” I said sadness dripping from the corners of my face. They never had intentions of hurting me, but they understood they were bad for me, so off to Neverland they flew to join the rest of the forgotten, abandoned, and Lost Boys.

But still, a dim light was burning somewhere.

I sat again at the same table I was at before with a blank sheet of paper. I stared at it back just as blankly. I wanted to look to my side and believe Phoenix was there, but for the best I had to let go….I needed “real” friends; a friend other people could physically see and believe.

My eyes frantically darted around the room for people to talk to. Surely someone would want to be my friend. Or did everyone think I was weird? What if they didn’t understand? It wouldn’t be the same….I needed to be open. Express myself. Let them into the sacred garden where I found joy and created art. I had to learn to trust. Not too hard.

I finally spotted someone in the corner of the room. He was an older boy. Part of the summer camp program, so he was in middle school. Brown shaggy hair, freckles, straightened teeth, and always with a hoodie. Always by himself. He would slotch with his stone frown and I only heard him speak to complain.

Everyone thought he was weird.

Everyone thought I was weird.

“Hey!” I walked over to him in my blue and violet print dress, hand extended and smile plastered. “My name is Carla, and I want to be your friend!” Is eyes traced me up and down and something shined in his razor eyes. He didn’t smile. He didn’t flinch. He touched my hand. Looked at it. And without a warning, licked me. My hand darted away and I stumbled backwards. This wasn’t at all what I imagined would happen. For the first time I saw him crack a smile. “Hello, Carla.” Still baffled I gawked there for a while, wiping my hand and containing my panicked thoughts. People have strange ways of interaction...I suppose this is one of them? I nodded, eye twitched, and I nervously smiled back with childhood resilience.

He was weird just as everyone said. Very weird. His tendencies even more bizarre. I talked to him though; I needed a friend. I opened up to him: told him about my personal Eden, told him about the friends I had to sacrifice, and he simply nodded. Staring at me still. Nodding and staring, nodding and staring...after everything I said he would nod, but no matter what, he would stare. The way he would stare made me uncomfortable though I didn’t understand why yet, but what was I to do?

He was my friend after all...wasn’t he?

Everywhere I went, his gaze followed. It touched me; reached over to me with a containing force and held me in place. Even when I would try to get away from the gaze, the ghost of his eyes tore into my soft flesh. Pierced me. Scarred me. Left me feeling weak. His razor eyes still shining. But none of it was physical. It must be imaginary. Just like the beings I created. Just like the fields and cotton candy clouds. Just like a darker version of the world where everything you dreamt could come to life and grab hold of you…

It was all imaginary.

But eventually, by ignoring the imagination just as I believed I should, that darkened world came into reality. It became physical. It grabbed hold and wouldn’t let go. All of the imaginary feelings flooded into me at once and broke me. I would wake at dawn and some hours between hoping it was a nightmare, but I shook in reality and hid in my sleep.

There I layed; a blank piece of crumpled paper, a canvas that could have painted a new world, now filled with tainted blobs and smudges from struggle, failure, and deception.

I will never forget the wonderful whim of my young mind; seeing everything so pure and shiny in a transcending world of hope and imagination. I wanted to go back to Eden and take a break from wicked truth as I slept. However I was enlightened: there is no such thing as innocence here, for innocence means everything pure and forever unmarked by cruelty. And everything is not pure. Sins exist. And with sin, agony upon those ignorant children like myself.

There was no more Eden to return to. For it faded to dust long ago with man’s first sinful act; the first impurity with the crunch of forbidden fruit. But that imaginary world I called my Eden, buried in the seas of my nonconscious with the rest of the characters I created was indeed real. It was never part of reality but it was just as real as those intangible emotions we as humans express everyday. My Eden was still there, hiding under the Freudian iceberg next to Atlantis, along with the dim light of Phoenix and all the other imaginary beings. It was just as I knew so well but tried to let go of: imaginary beings and feelings come right from the mind and they are always there in you. They were all there suffering with me because they are all parts of me: fragments I personified for expression.

Suppressing them was the real cause of this misery. Stretching my arms, I reopened myself to Phoenix.

And without hesitation, there they were again; glistening in the imaginary field, beckoning me back to a new, clean, and open canvas. But before all else, I added a small black mark, a memory of what had happened; a memory to remind me of the dangers every world holds. Whether it is in your head or in motion in the conscious world, the effects of everything in your life is real and it molds you as a developing person.

Once again, I returned to the world of whim with feet planted in reality. Repairing the shattered pieces of my mind and painting my canvas to craft a new world. A new imaginary paradise from the creativity within.

Virginia ArcherComment