“Okay, what have you done with Kyle and Mia, and who are those strangers living in our house?”
Dad had come back home really tired from his business trip. He had appreciated the unexpected respite from the normal household chaos for a couple of days. Face it, Mia was a little drama queen and loved bossing her brother around. For his part, Kyle was forever complaining about her poking her nose in his stuff and, heaven forbid she should ever step a toe into his room. And that’s exactly where they were right now … in Kyle’s room, drawing and talking and – gasp! – getting along??!! And this had been going on for over a week!
Mom shrugged. “Beats me … they’ve been like this ever since you left a couple of weeks ago. Maybe they were abducted by aliens and those are their doubles upstairs.”
Dad looked thoughtful. “Well, if they bring the originals back – which is very likely – do we have to swap back? Maybe we should move so they can’t find us …”
“Just asking …”
Upstairs on the floor of Kyle's room, two heads were bent over a sketch book. Crayons and pencils, sticks of colored chalk and brushes, and a tray of watercolors lay scattered about them on the floor.
Kyle sat upright and sighed. "I'm never gonna' get it right. The shape is getting closer, but the color ... no matter what I try, it just looks off ... flat ..."
"Don't stop trying, Kyle. You get a little closer every time." She looked around at the art supplies scattered around them. "This stuff just isn't good enough. But where do you go to buy colors that you can hear?"
"Oh, Mia, I feel so relieved every time I hear you say that! That's why I wanted you to go ... I thought I was crazy! I needed to know someone else could hear it, too."
"Oh, I heard it alright ... it was coming from everywhere ... from every thing! So beautiful ..."
"From every blade of grass and every leaf. It was in the sunlight, in the ground, in the trees, in the air ... every color sounded different ... and you didn't just hear it ... you could feel it. Like it was inside of you."
Mia reached for a crayon and held it up. "And you think you're gonna' make THAT with THIS?!"
Kyle smiled weakly. "Well, what else can I use?"
"Kyle, we have to tell Mom and Dad."
"No, Mia! NO!! We can't tell anybody!"
"But, Kyle ..."
"Think about it ... what are we gonna' say? Mom, Dad, guess what? We met this neat old man in the woods who told us the most amazing story! And, oh, by the way, have you ever heard purple? Or smelled blue? If you heard pink and yellow singing, could you tell which was which? Have you ever heard the hymns the trees sing? Or seen clouds dance? Or heard water laughing? How do you think that's gonna' sound to them?"
"I'll tell you how it'll sound ... it'll sound crazy! They'll probably lock us up in a room somewhere and throw away the key!"
"But we have to tell somebody ..."
"NO! No, we don't!"
"But, Kyle ..."
"Look, Mia, this is our special secret. Just you and me. Nobody – and I mean NOBODY – ever needs to hear ANYTHING about this. NOT ONE WORD!!"
"Mia, promise me. Promise me you will never tell another living soul."
Mia knew she wasn't going to win this one. "Okay. I promise. I promise I will never tell another living soul. It will always be our secret."
"Good! Thank you! Now pass me that crayon ... I'm gonna' try this again ..."
* * *
Kyle tiptoed quietly down the stairs to the kitchen. The house was dark and silent. Peggy and the kids wouldn’t be up for another couple of hours.
This was his favorite time of the day and he had his routine down pat. It always began with preparations the night before so making his coffee only required a quick push of a button in the morning. Then some quiet moments on the back deck, journal in hand, gave him time to reflect and prepare for the day’s tasks.
He could feel his heart dancing with anticipation … he was going to begin working on a new painting today. It would be the final one … just one more painting and the series he had been working on for months would be complete.
He never knew which he enjoyed more … the process of actually doing the work, or the satisfying conclusion of work completed well. Over the next few days he was going to be enjoying both of those! Oh, how he loved his job!
A quick rinse of his empty coffee mug, out the back door, a short jaunt across the back yard to his garage studio, and in minutes he was sitting in front of his easel.
He picked up a brush and thrust it into a small mountain of cobalt blue pigment sitting atop the palette. A bold stroke zipped across the blank canvas.
With eyes closed, he paused … and listened … and, in perfect time with his storyteller’s heart, the color sang …