Thevet was a teacher. She taught art at Parkinson National High School in Amsterdam. She hated her job, but she needed the money for living, and art was the only thing she could deal with.
Thevet was a thinker. She would think about why white colour was called white in the first place, she would think about why storms were named after people, she would think about how animals communicate. It was one of the reasons why she loved art so much because you could put anything in it. Happiness, despair, love, history, politics, and the list went on and on. It was just like life, it contained everything.
She was an only child. She lost her parents in a car crash back in 2009 when she was 22 and had been living alone ever since. Her mum was from Manchester and her dad was from Amsterdam, it made her able to fluently speak English. She rented an apartment near Parkinson. She had been living there for three years with a rowdy neighbour who held a party almost every day a week at his place. As you would expect, she was thinking of moving, but again, her salary couldn’t even afford a new pair of Docmart shoes for her and you wouldn’t be able to pay off your credit if you buy a house in Amsterdam.
She spent most of her nights’ writing. She had countless .doc files on her computer. She lived alone, she lost her parents, and her friends she could trust lived in another city or country and phone calls just simply didn’t enough.
Before bedtime, she opened a new blank document on her computer and wrote,
“Today, April 27th, 2012. 10:12 PM.
Have you ever feel tired?
Not physically tired,
That kind of tired that makes you want to sigh every minute.
Goddamn it, I am exhausted.”
* * *
It was Saturday, she went to a museum or an art gallery on Saturday. There was an art gallery couple blocks away from her apartment and a national museum next to it. She loved them. She always went alone, it was a bliss if she could go on weekdays because it wouldn’t be as crowded as weekend. Every day, when class was about to end, she told her students to go to museums, not to study history, but to understand that other things had history too.
Her body was statuesque, her skin was tan, her hair was short and burgundy, fit perfectly for her navy shirt, long black skirt, and a pair of black heels she was wearing. As she was strolling around the art gallery, she saw a boy, staring at one of the paintings. It was a painting of a woman with a smiling face and Thevetia flowers as the hair, just like her name. She approached the boy, she looked at him closely, she guessed his age was around eight. She loved kids, they were honest and genuine. The boy then realised that Thevet was already standing next to him.
“Miss.”, said the boy as he gripped the edge of her skirt.
“Yes, Sweetheart?”, Thevet answered with a smile.
“She looks like you.”, the boy said to her as he pointed to the painting.
Thevet was surprised. She lowered down to level with the boy, “That’s very sweet of you. Thank you.”
Thevet didn’t want to be narcissistic, but the woman in the painting did look like her. She hated it. The woman looked so happy and… fulfilled. Thevet wondered what was wrong with her. She was full of emptiness. She socialised well, she went to mall or watched movies with her friends, you know, common things a group of girls would do on a day off. People would tell her right away she was beautiful. She read a lot, smart, and kind. She had a relationship with a guy that lasted for a year, but that just it. Nothing really kicked her.
On her way home, she wrote in her notebook that she carried wherever she went,
“Most people die at 25,
and aren’t buried until they are 75.
I guess this is my last year.
April, 28th 2012.”
Just when she closed her notebook, a message appeared.
“Can we talk tonight?
This is important.
Let me know when you’re home.”
The principal of the Parkinson National High School, Mr. Grant, her boss, just texted her at 9 PM. “This is so unlike him.”, she thought to herself. As she arrived she texted her boss. She made some coffee and then the door bell rang.
“So,..”, started Mr. Grant while he rested his body on a couch.
“I’m afraid that I won’t see you at Parkinson on Monday.”
“What is this about?”, asked Thevet.
“I just had a meeting with Joanna, the supervisor of Parkinson, and there is this new policy that Parkinson will remove art subject.”, told Mr. Grant with a heavy voice.
Still collecting herself, Thevet tried to arrange her words in her head,
“Is there anything you could do?”
“I told them that she can’t just remove it like that, but she said that she has discussed it with the other supervisors.”
“Well, That’s okay. I mean, I’m planning on moving anyway.”
“I am so sorry, I could send recommendation letters to the other schools. You are a great teacher and a great person. You are needed.”,
Mr. Grant tried to cheer her up.
“Please, don’t bother. Seriously, I’m planning on moving.”, Thevet lied to him and herself.
After another cup of coffee, Mr. Grant gave a comforting hug for Thevet and left.
“Just keep in touch. Promise?”, asked Mr. Grant.
“Promise.”, Thevet smiled sadly.
She wrote another word on her computer,
“A Letter to the Writer.
I always think life works like a story.
It has a plot. A plot consists of background, rising action, climax, falling action, and a resolution.
This must be the climax.
Oh, my. Whoever You are.
You are SUCH a talented writer.
April, 29th 2012. 00:14 AM.”
Not even changing her clothes or removing her makeup, Thevet went straight to bed. “You, make sure you make a fantastic resolution for this.”, she mumbled just before she lost herself in her sleep.
* * *
She saved Sunday for sleeping. Breakfast in bed, books, and no shower. Just her and her bed. Until it was Monday and she realised that she needed to make money. She made a call to one of her closest friends in Paris, she asked if there were a job available there as a teacher or anything related to art. Her friend, Paul, said that there was a job available at Lambert Yvon. Paul also offered her a place to stay since he had two beds at his apartment. She told Paul that she would think about it.
She took a deep breath and stood silently by the window, looking at the streets. People were passing by in their suit, ready to work. “Maybe I should call Aunt May.”, she thought. Aunt May lived across the globe, in Thailand, precisely in Pattaya. She got married to a guy she met there. Aunt May was a doctor, her husband was an economic consultant. Aunt May once told her that she could call her anytime for anything. She thought maybe this was it.
An empty canvas was taken from below her bed, she put it on an easel, and rolled out her acrylics on a table next to it. As Bob Dylan reached the chorus of Mr. Tambourine Man on back sound, she stroked from the top to the middle, cobalt blue with a touch of white to paint a sky. She took another brush and kept on tapping from the bottom to start painting a bush, deep moss green, it got lighter and lighter as it reached the middle.
Gently, carefully, she stroked bright yellow on few spots to make a shape of Thevetia flowers. She giggled when she stared at her painting, she knew that Thevetia flowers didn’t grow on bushes, but it was her painting, she could paint anything she wanted. She added another petal of Thevetia. She used burgundy, violet, and orange. The painting was done in three hours, she wrote a lyric from It’s Alright, Ma (I’m Only Bleeding) by Bob Dylan on the back on the canvas,
“You lose yourself, you reappear
You suddenly find you got nothing to fear
Alone you stand, with nobody near
When a trembling distant voice, unclear
Startles your sleeping ears to hear
That somebody thinks
They really found you.
Whoever You are, you really got me.”
She took her phone and shocked when she read the name that appeared in the incoming call.
“Honey, where are you?”
“Oh! I’m in my apartment, Aunt May. Just finished a painting. What is it all of a sudden?”, she answered in surprise.
“No, my dear. It’s just, um… What do you think about moving here?”, Aunt May asked in doubt.
She was silent for a moment. She couldn’t believe what Aunt May just asked, the resolution shouldn’t come this easy and this quick.
“You are a terrible writer.”, she said to the ceilings.
“Honey? Are you there?”
“Oh, yes, sorry, Aunt May. Yeah, sure. Actually, I was planning on calling you, I would love to move there to Thailand, but why?” Thevet was unable to hide her relief and at the same time, her confusion.
“I don’t know, yesterday I and Uncle Peter talked about you when we were visiting one of the art galleries in town and we thought it will be a great idea if you move here, since you live alone there, and we don’t have a kid. There’s one room left.”. Aunt May and Uncle Peter didn’t have a kid. They lived happily with each other.
“I’ll think about it, Aunt May. Thank you, I appreciate it.”, Thevet answered after a moment of silence.
After they hang up, Thevet went back to her bed, she lay and stared at the ceilings. She loved Amsterdam, she couldn’t leave it just like that. She loved the scenery when she strolled around the street where you saw a river and a canoe in one block and when you got to another block you found another river and another canoe. Not to mention the bricks you stepped on wherever you went, or the buildings that looked alike. The first time she moved here, she couldn’t even believe that this place was real. It was just like a fairytale, with a lot of weed.
She got up from her bed, changed her clothes and put her hat on. Just when she opened the door to enjoy Amsterdam at 4 PM, her neighbour, opened his door too. They looked at each other and there was a moment of awkward silence. They knew each other. Thevet made a friendly greeting the first time she moved here, Aris was an architect and live by himself. They smiled at each other and they went separate ways.
Thevet stopped to buy some waffles, with whipped cream as high as Everest Mountain, she brought it with her. She sat at one of the benches in Dam square. Recalling all the memories she had had here, tears fell from her eyes. She took her notebook from her bag and opened another blank page. On it she wrote,
“You can be with someone for three years and feel nothing,
and you can be with someone for three months, and feel everything.”
Yes, she referred Amsterdam as a person. Amsterdam was alive. She believed it. Even the wind or the bricks she stepped on or the bench she sat on. Here, she felt everything. It was as if she had found the answer of her emptiness. This was it. She turned another page and wrote.
“For the person that I thought arranged all of this.
I made up my mind. I will stay. Here. In Amsterdam.
I want to step on every brick, drink every hot chocolate, ride every canoes and tram, I want to breathe the air here, I want to talk to my neighbour and confront him for being too rowdy. I want to paint about all the beautiful people here and the tulips. I want to live now.
I want to visit every museums and art galleries and talk to strangers.
I never read a story where the main character finds their resolution just by sitting on a bench.
I never read a story where the main character falls in love with the writer either.
But now for sure, I am in love with you for turning me into a bittersweet person. I am in love with you kicking my ass from Parkinson. I am in love with you for showing me home.
April, 30th 2012.”
Just as she finished her note. Her phone rang. Unknown number.
“Evening, Ma’am. Is this Thevetia Lynn Roos?”, she wasn’t sure whose sound was this, it was a guy.
“Yes.”, she answered in the middle of her confusion.
“I’m Dean. the supervisor for Amsterdam Gallery. I heard from Mr. Grant that you have an interest in art. Do you mind if you show me some of your paintings? If it’s fit for our place, we can make an exhibition for i. We will pay you, of course. So, drop by my office tonight? I’ll text you the address.”
Not yet answering his question, Thevet looked up to the sky and mumbled,
“You son of a guy.”
word count: 2257
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