The Mural …. A Short Story by Kip Keefer

His eyes were still unopened as the first recognition of waking from a deep sleep occurred. In that instant however, he instinctively knew something wasn’t normal. He was immediately cognizant that he was not in his bed. The surface he was lying now was very soft and the feeling was a sensation of being immersed within it. There were no pillows or covers. His mind raced as to where could he be and how did he get there. Then the realization, surely this is a dream.

Sitting up, with no resistance, he slowly wedged open his eyes. He was immediately shocked to discover that his vision, which had severely been diminished for a number of years, was functioning perfectly. This had to be a dream. He was in a modest sized room with a brightness that was unlike any he had ever seen. It was accentuated by brilliant white surroundings. The walls on all sides, the soft carpet like surface of the floor and above, what appeared to be a ceiling awash in the basking glow of the room. It was strange however, that despite the brightness, there was no glare.

Any trepidation or anxiety from being in this mysterious room was negated by a feeling of tranquility prompted by the surroundings. Still assuming this situation was an elaborate dream, he tentatively started exploring the space. His first discovery, there were no doors or windows on any of the four walls. Despite the luminous environment, he could not see any source of that light. The temperature was comfortable, ideal actually, yet there were no vents and a flow of air could not be felt. He stood against a wall fior a time, baffled and expecting to awaken from this strange dream. After several minutes, he was still standing in the same spot. He clapped his hands, lightly thumped himself on his head and even bent down to touch his toes. He shrugged and decided that while inexplicable, for now, this was his reality.

The thought emanated suddenly from the depths of his mind. Is this transition, is it possible, had he died? A chill of fast moving fear and dread consumed him. Then instantly it disappeared. This room eliminated fear and despair. Besides, he was aware of his surroundings and still was exactly who he was. The fact that he had no recollection of the previous day or night and no urgency or awareness of being expected or needed anywhere else, there was no cause for unrest. At this moment in time, he was assured by some knowing internal sense, he was precisely where he was supposed to be.

Gazing around the room again, there was an item he had not noticed before. In fact, he would have sworn it was not there before. It was a small cabinet, white of course. It was in front of the forward wall. He strode over to investigate. There was a closed lid across the top of the night stand sized item. He lifted the lid and slowly eased it back. Looking down, he was surprised to see an array of brushes and an artist’s pallet. Below, there was one drawer. Opening it he discovered it was filled with neatly organized markers of every color and description.

None of this made any sense. He was a writer and verbal communicator. With no artistic ability whatsoever, the thought of painting or drawing was a laughable prospect. Not to mention the fact that there was no easel or canvas. And, there was no paint. He picked up the cloud shaped pallet and examined it. The smooth surface was pristine. He picked up a brush and mimicked the process of dabbing it against the pallet to pick up some paint. He turned to the adjacent wall and wistfully brushed the blank space with a quick stroke. To his astonishment a tiny streak of red, his favorite color, appeared. The pallet was still clean. He dabbed again and crossed the streak on the wall. It formed a perfect red cross like symbol. He grabbed a different brush and thought about blue. The stroke along the wall appeared in that color. Suddenly, it was clear. This room was his studio and despite it making no sense, he was placed there to paint. These brilliant, smooth white walls were actually, the giant canvas for creation of a mural, his own personal cyclorama of his life.

He started by accessing markers and writing. Names, places, events, memories and dreams. Something intuitive took over. The names and places varied in size and style depending on their significance, family and closest friends were not only listed by name but also accompanied by a drawing of each person. He laughed at himself as the absurdity of his lack of artistic talent was so readily displayed. Still, he was compelled to grab a brush and diligently add flesh tones, and gallantly attempted to fill in features for each person. He worked for hours, there was no fatigue, hunger or thirst. He worked so feverishly, he did not even notice that he had transitioned to another wall to continue.

More lists. More memories, more names and faces, all of the places he’d been. He found himself intensely concentrating on the source of his life’s greatest joy, his children. He chronicled and recreated every memory of their lives, from birth to present day young adulthood. First words, first steps, school, programs, sports, graduations, weddings. He amazed himself, every memory was clear and concise.

On yet another wall, he recreated the great loves of his life. Again he fervently labored on every word, each minute detail. The select group of the five women he had unabashedly and unconditionally loved came to life anew.

It may have been hours, it could even have been days. He stepped back and surveyed his work. He was absolutely astounded. His endless lists of names and places events and highlights, memories and heartbreaks, were featured in a magnificent diversity of font styles, colors and calligraphy, the crude drawings of people were exquisite portraits. It was as if they were present in the room. Standing in the middle of the room, he slowly rotated and drank in the words and images that surrounded him on all sides. The range of sentiments was overwhelming. He relished every moment, he relived every emotion, he reflected , laughed, sighed and cried, inundated with appreciation, comprehension and perspective. And then suddenly, exhaustion came upon him. He dropped to the floor and instantly fell into a blissful, contented sleep,

When he awoke, he was surprised that he was still in the room. The light had not altered, the images surrounding him were still present. But then it became apparent, something was different. On each wall, empty space had opened in a variety of shapes and sizes. The images he had created had reshaped slightly. It seemed that these gaps were next to important people indicating perhaps that key information or history, he had somehow not included. Clearly,my he’d pace indicated that there was more of the story to fill in.

On each of the four walls, the situation was the same. He wondered what he could have possibly forgotten. He turned toward the supply cabinet only to realize, it was no longer there. Where had it gone and why had it disappeared? Obviously, his task was completed after all. And then at
the instant if the conclusion of that thought, it all became perfectly clear.

He had completely displayed the story of his life, to date. The smaller spaces now empty on his mural represented stories with those people and places that were yet to come. The large spaces on the wall, many in the area of his children, made crystal clear sense. There was still so much more of their story to be authored along with his involvement in it. On the wall of his loves, a very large empty space, was present. The thought of any further romantic or matters of heart had long been abandoned. Could it be that there was more of a story ahead? The large empty void seemed to indicate the possibility that the unwritten chapters in that area, which had been a heartbreaking journey, perhaps held the promise of the greatest blessings being further ahead.

As he contemplated this revelation, he noticed a tiny detail in the low corner of the wall where he now stood. It was an image of a forked path. Just to the left was a large gate, to the right, a continuing pathway leading to an unknown horizon. Stepping back, he suddenly became aware that there were two doors present in the room, side by side, on the back wall. He turned to face them. The vision of the path formed in his head. To the left, the gate to the unknown. To the right, the path to the horizon. And then, the choice was simple. The spaces in his life mural were not complete. The powerful message that there was more to life to author resonated. His tale was not over as he had feared. There was so much of the adventure remaining. Glancing quickly back at his life on all sides and again noting the until led spaces, eliminated all doubt. Armed with this enlightening affirmation, with no hesitation, he opened and faithfully stepped in to the darkness through the door on the right.

Instantly, or so it seemed, he was sitting on the sofa in his apartment. The television was off, it was daylight. His first thought was his vision was again limited. He shrugged incredulously contemplating the incredible, detail laden dream he had just experienced. It all seemed so real. It was odd, that he could remember all of it so vividly.He thought about the power and mystery of the Subconscious. He vowed that he would heed its message.

His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door. He rose and unlatched the lock and was pleasantly surprised to see his youngest son standing there. The young man stepped in and said he had worried after a number of unanswered calls and texts. And then, examining his Dad he said, ” what have you been doing, you have paint all over you?”

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11 thoughts on “The Mural …. A Short Story by Kip Keefer”

  1. Oh do I love a good story!!!! Kip that story was wonderful!! I really enjoyed reading every word of it. What a Gift you have!
    Linda

  2. Now I know why reading puts me to sleep. No one has been able to keep my attention – like you! This is exciting! Please do not stop.

  3. Certainly so much more good to come in your life as your writing eludes to. So glad that you are looking forward all the while remembering the moments that have forged your destiny. Looking forward to your next installment.

  4. Truly inspirational. Vision isn’t only about what you can see with your eyes, but with your heart. Having he ability to communicate that vision is a gift. One you have in abundance.

  5. I just love this. At one point I wanted to read faster, out of anticipation: but, I continued slowly, so as not to miss a single word. I just love this.

    1. Sharon, I have so much respect for your sharp mind. Your comments and enthusiastic response is immensely meaningful. Thank you so much.

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