…He was in shock, Tiffany realized. She knew how he felt about sharing his painting with others. She knew how shy he was. She walked up next to him and took his hand.

     He turned to her. Her smile melted the ice that froze him in place, and he remembered why he was here. He remembered all of the hard work, the excitement that had been building, the eagerness he’d felt in wanting to share his painting, and that’s when he found his voice.

     “Thank you for coming everyone.” Those who were talking, quieted. “My name is Gerald Oliver Delaney. I go to the same school as you, but many of you don’t know me. We’re in many of the same classes, but most of you have probably never even noticed me. You don’t know of my loneliness. You don’t know of my isolation.” Gerald took a big breath before continuing.

     “You don’t know how much I hurt and feel and ache for a friend. Maybe that’s because many of you are in the same boat, feeling your own isolation and fear.

     “I realize that now.

     “I’m sure you’re wondering why you are here. Let me explain. A while back, in my lowest point, someone who actually cared about me did something for me. They gave me a present. It was a small gesture, but through their gift I learned something about myself. Something that I didn’t know existed.

     “My dad gave me a blank canvas – a really huge blank canvas. It needed something. It needed paint, of course, but it also needed passion. It needed someone to help it grow, to nurture it, to give it hope and encouragement.” Gerald looked out at the faces standing before him. He hoped they understood.

     “It needed layers of color, of depth. It needed a foundation on which the world could develop on it. A place where plants could grow. A place that could provide shelter for all of the animals. Where trees could spread their branches out and provide the security we all are striving for in life.

     “This canvas needed love, just like we all do. I gave it that through my paints.

     “When I first started, it felt as if it wasn’t right, that something was missing. Sometimes, the areas of its base were so dark, it felt as if the light couldn’t work on it – that the light paint would mix in with the dark and become muted, like it would also go dark.

     “The dark tried consume the canvas, to blot out all of the light forever… but the light succeeded.

     “The light gave the darkness depth, shadowing, definition…” Gerald noticed as Sam nodded her head with a smile, she understood so well. He continued.

     “The light gave it a foundation to grow on. It brought life and hope that seemed so far away, that left me in despair.”

     Gerald paused, the silence was deafening.

     “In the end, as it all came together; the passion for this project, the devotion I had in seeing it through – I triumphed over my worries. I accomplished something that no one could imagine possible, because no one had ever spent the time to even consider it was necessary.

     “What I’m about to share with you is very close to my heart. It is my masterpiece. I had once thought it was complete just the way it was. That I was finished with it, but I now realize it was missing something. You.”

     Gerald heard the crowd murmur as many discussed or agreed with his message.

     “No world could ever be complete without someone to share it with. A world that isolates you is a prison. I don’t want to be a prisoner any longer. I don’t want to be alone. I want to feel the love that I gave to this painting by witnessing the joy it brings to you.

     “So, without further ado,” Gerald opened the doors to the greenhouse, “please take a look at my painting and let me know what you think.”

     As the crowd of students began to walk in, Gerald remained outside. He had opened himself to a vulnerability that he had absolutely no way to escape from.

     Gerald didn’t know that his parents had heard his speech. That they stood hand in hand, at the back of the crowd, gushing with emotion and tears and pride for their son.

     All Gerald knew was that he was standing here, surrounded by people, and feeling the most alone and afraid as he had ever felt in his entire life.

“The Painting” A Novel by Kathleen J. Shields – Coming Soon

E-Book Available Now on Smashwords!