Story from Lit Camp
The lake was wide and rippling, the forest that ran the length of its three sides a mass of green and brown shadows. Across its surface a multitude of blue and green hues danced and flickered, melding with the yellow tinged shadows. It lapped over the speckled sand of the fourth side.
Here, at the water’s edge, sat the girl. She was young, around 15, with voluminous curls held back in a ponytail of coal black hair, draped elegantly over one shoulder. In her hand was a sketch pad, balanced across her bent knees. She had sat there, staring out at the lake for at least 20 minutes, yet not one line had been drawn. Her face was a mask of concentration as she studied her surroundings, eyes closed.
Ducks and magpies called loudly to one another, a trilling, honking, splashing disturbance to the gentle breeze that ran through the branches, swaying the trees. A cool soothing feather against her face. It filled her lungs with every revitalising breath, mixed with other duller scents of bark and eucalyptus. With her toes she dug through the coarse, dirty sand, cold and gritty. She flung it high with the tip of her foot. her heel dug further until her feet sat neatly aligned in a shallow depression. Tiredly, she opened her eyes. Tiny birds the size of her fist flew across the centre of the lake, diving, swooping, circling a joyful morning celebration. The girl frowned.
She had intended to come to the lake to calm herself that day, but instead she felt a gnawing frustration grow in her. She could draw this scene, could draw it perfectly. She could add every minute detail; every ripple, every tiny fish, every leaf in the distance.
But that wasn’t what she wanted to do.
What is art, she thought, but a pale reflection of what is really beautiful? Any sketch she made here would be lovely, picturesque, a delight to set eyes upon. Yet it would never compare to the serenity, the stillness, the life at this lake. Like saying a pebble was a boulder, or a feather was a bird. It was not a fault of hers she knew, but it made her feel hopeless, that her talent could be so shallow. Like a fraud, she was taking a tiny part of the whole being, trying to sell it unfinished.
And at the heart of this she felt her own fears. The fear of how she would one day be part of society, not just as an artist, but more than that. Would she be able to do something that made people understand that she was going to be different, make a change? She wanted to be that change, how people treated what they had, treated their environment, their fellow countries and all the sufferings in the world. So many times, she had wanted to rage and shout at the denial her world seemed to live in, the disregard they showed for the starving people, the wars being fought, the forests raised. She felt it now, a vicious growl inside her chest that threatened to break loose into the silent morning.
A tear slid down her cheek at the same time the first raindrops began to fall on the lake’s surface. She had not noticed the grey clouds moving stealthily closer. Slowly, she put down her sketch pad and stood up, brushing sand from her jeans. She gazed out over the now murky lake, at the dark trees, the wheeling birds. It appeared as though the world cried with her, in this little corner of peace.