“Is it seriously worth it?” asked Max, slowly blowing a cloud of smoke into the air and looking up at her associate, Lily.
Lily did not have an answer for that. She looked at her blank sketchpad and said, “I guess we will find out.”
Max and Lily were friends. Sisters even. I’d rather not bore you with the mushy details. I don’t know how they became friends. They kept their ‘origin story’ a secret from most people.
All I know is that these two were artist prodigies. Lily may be the picture perfect version of one: long brown hair, wearing a hoodie which reached to her knees and a few splashes of colour over it, always carrying a sketchpad wherever she went. But, if you saw Max, you would not even think her to be an artist, let alone a prodigy. Blonde hair which was of medium length, dyed pink and blue bangs, a jacket covering her shirt and wearing jeans.
Their personalities were very different as well. Lily was soft spoken, more considerate, thoughtful and a bundle of optimism. Max was moody, intimidating, though she was a softie at heart. Whenever asked why she was with Lily, she jokingly claimed to be her bodyguard.
Honestly, I would not be surprised if Max wanted to protect Lily from the horrors of the world. These two have a deep connection with each other. Though, there was one problem between them.
They did not convey it much. They thought of it as something the other already knew. Not a single compliment or nice word came from either. Whether it was Lily’s shyness or Max’s gusto, I have no idea.
As of now, they were in a prodigy course in art, under the expectations of coming up as people who create masterpieces, masters of their art. Though no one in this world understands that genius is struck into a person, not produced like in a factory. These two had already created numerous art pieces, in peaceful environments and for kind people whose only expectations were, “She will do great.”
They fulfilled those expectations beautifully, but now…having so many expectations…from teachers, classmates, professors, relatives and friends…goodness. I’d rather get crumpled like a piece of paper and thrown into the garbage.
The expectations were…inconsiderate to say the least. The usual assumption that they could churn and vomit out art. Forcing them to do something that they clearly did to make themselves and others happy. Monetising their work and sucking out all the wonder of making artwork. It does things to a person.
Now, the two are on a bus ride to their dormitories, silently sitting next to each other and thinking what sort of painting they should make and submit to their university’s Principal to give to the commissioners of an Art Event. Their life was so blissful before…how did they manage to ruin it so perfectly? Did they surround themselves with people who were not trustworthy? Did they not give themselves time? Did they…push their friendship too far?
Don’t ask me how they got to the conclusion of their friendship being the root of all of this. Perhaps the request made by the principal pushed them over the edge or it was some sort of hidden fear in their brain. All I know is that something big was about to happen.
When they got back to their dorm-cum-art studio, they sat on the couch stiffly in sheer silence. They did not bother looking at each other.
For a few days, that was the dynamic between them. Max became irritable and lashed out at Lily for almost no reason sometimes and Lily stopped responding to Max completely.
No, no, no!! Don’t get up yet, sit down. Let me continue.
Where was I…ah, yes.
As I was saying, contact between them shut off completely. I could see them sitting further and further away from each other during their lectures. This unbreakable friendship was somehow rusting and…I felt like I was rooting for two characters in a movie while looking at these two.
One day, all hell broke loose.
I heard this from their own mouths, they told me everything after they were done.
“I think we should not be friends anymore.”
Max looked at her with surprise and clenched her fist, “What?”
“Y-you heard me!”
“Why do you think that Lily?”
“I don’t know Max! I just…I feel like our friendship is hindering our ability to progress…to focus on ourselves.”
“You mean yourself.”
Poor Lily, bless her soul. She was stuttering and shivering and Max raising her voice made her even more afraid.
“Shut it, Lily. I know how much of a burden I am to you…I hold you back too much, I knew this day would come.” Max reached for her cigarettes and lighter but before she could light one, Lily smacked it out of her hand.
“Max!! How could you possibly think that!!”
“I know your thoughts! I know that you want nothing to do with me anymore! I was just loose baggage wasn’t I? Just an accessory to you!”
“Where did you get all of that?”
Max sneered at her, “When’s the last time you said a kind word to me? Huh? When was the last time you appreciated me and not my art? I know we don’t need to, but a simple dang I lo-“
“Max you are my inspiration!!”
Max now looked at Lily who had suddenly burst out and said something that she did not expect her to say. Lily looked down, blushed, and continued to speak, “Thing is I…I always think of you when I am drawing or sketching. Y-you make me feel calm and soft and fuzzy inside and I just…I need you here with me because…I-I love you!!”
Max clenched her fist again, “You better-”
“I'M NOT JOKING! I meant every word I said! 100% pinky promise, cross my heart-hope to die!”
Max slowly walked to a table and stood near it for a while. Lily swallowed a ball of spit. Did she say something wrong? Was she not supposed to say that? Was Max going to get mad?
Max quickly turned around and threw a bottle of paint at Lily. The colour spilled all over her, soaking into her clothes and making them a gross blue hue. When Lily wiped the paint off her burning eyes, she saw Max, smiling the biggest smile in the world at her and quietly giggling before saying, “I love you too, you dork.”
Lily blushed heavily but could not help but smile back, “You know what this means?”
Before you know it, colours were spilled and splashed all over the studio, making it seem like ten unicorns had just thrown up all at once in the room. Not long after, the duo bust out of their room, still wearing their painted clothes and rushed to the principal’s office, holding two canvases.
They shoved the canvases into the Principal’s face. They had two silhouettes, ‘painted’ onto them, both seemed pretty similar to two best friends I knew. The silhouettes were surrounded with designs and splashes of different hues, squiggles, spirals, shades, gradients, everything at once.
Who knew that a splash of colours could win the competition, hm, co-judge? Everyone here is just attracted to that art piece. ‘Rainbow Souls’ is what it’s called, perfect name, don’t you think?
Oh, they’re calling us on stage, let’s announce the winners, shall we? Though, I don’t think we need to. The story behind that art piece is more than enough to make me declare it a winner.
Editor: Navya Jain