Painting by Number

Limited 3rd Person

“D-Dad?” Catori stuttered, almost dropping the dishes when she caught sight of her dapper father. His face looked irritated until he looked up at her, tucking away his phone with a beam in her direction.

“Happy birthday, sweetheart.” He murmured with a gravely voice, strained from lack of sleep most likely.

“Where did you come from?!” she cried, quickly setting down the dishes and burying her face in his slightly wrinkled jacket. The smell of mint and lavender filled her nose, a special blend Hania would make him to help with his nerves since he kicked his smoking habit long ago.

“Brandon picked me up from the airport. I’ve been traveling non-stop to get here from Bridgeport for your birthday. I wanted to be here before your party started but…” he gave a regretful shrug as he looked at Catori. “Cat you look like a spitting image of your mother. And me. Those eyebrows are all me.” he added with a grin. Hania strode into the living room and hugged them both from behind.

“Like your present, Catori?” she asked in her soft tenor. Her daughter nodded happily and nuzzled into the group hug. “Good, let me borrow your dad for about… a few minutes…” Jeremy gave Hania a knowing grin and patted Catori on the head.

“Give your sister a kiss for me, I’ll be done with your mom in a minute.” And with that they were gone in a flash. Catori couldn’t even be cranky about it, she just laughed and headed to the kitchen to finish the dishes now that the sink was available.

“We should have kids.” Brandon murmured, placing an elbow on the table as he glanced at Ana.

“No way!” Una said, interjecting , “You don’t even have table manners, get your elbows off the table Uncle Bran Muffin.”

“Bran–what…?!” Brandon said, clearly flustered. “Why do I have to be the muffin?” he asked. Una merely motioned to his hair and he rolled his eyes. “I’m just gonna shut up and eat my cake now.” he grumbled bringing Una and Ana into a fit of laughter.

Jeremy adjusted his jacket as he stepped through the doorway, “Cat. So, are you excited about the candidate competition?” he asked.

“Ah.. I think so… I think I want to do something with my hair, but I’m just not sure yet. I want to make you and mom proud, you know?”

“You’re the smartest idiot I know, right after your mom.” he mutters, “You’re always going to make us proud as long as you follow your dreams and do the best you can do.”

“I can’t believe you just said that… Mom is going to murder you…” Catori said.

“She already did.” Jeremy said with a chuckle as he rubbed his goatee with a small grin.

“I’m going to do what?” Hania asked, wandering into the kitchen with the last dishes and placing them in the sink for later washing.

“Ugh, Dad, that’s gross… I didn’t want to know that!” Catori exclaimed.

“You know… I think I hear Una calling me…” Hania murmured before quickly excusing herself. As she was heading out she suddenly heard Catori ask Jeremy a question.

“So, Dad, I don’t have to get married right?”

“Wh-what?! Of course you do!” he sputtered.

“I am not touching this one…” Hania said in a sing-song voice as she headed out to the safety of the outdoors.

“But you and mom didn’t get married.” Catori said bluntly.

“That and this is different.” Jeremy said stiffly.

“Why?”

“Because, I don’t want you to have all the stress and anxiety your mother and I had while you two were growing up.” Catori’s face faltered slightly, taken aback by Jeremy’s serious answer.

“I’m sorry… you have a point. But we’ll see. Okay? I have to find someone who’s good enough for the one and only Catori Whitefeather.” she flicked her hair over her shoulder with a small smile.

“That reminds me, I have some good news.” Jeremy said causing Catori’s eyebrow to raise. “My work is pretty much done and I will be taking you ladies to come see the finished product.

“You managed to pay off that much in such a short time?” she asked, looking impressed.

“Your mom helped a little, but yes. It’s amazing what a man can do when his family and freedom is on the line.” he smiled tiredly, his words perhaps too true to laugh about just yet, but in a few years maybe… things would be far enough away to look back on the past fondly.
Later that week

“Catori… did you finish your entry yet?” Hania asked from where she was single-mindedly gardening.

“No… not yet…” Catori said, looking guiltily at her mother.

“I suggest taking a nice jog under the sun, perhaps that will give you some inspiration.” Hania said wisely. Catori nodded and got changed.

The sun beat down on Catori’s skin bringing a smile to her face. The smell of freshly watered plants, the tinge of sand, and the smell of sweat made her feel so alive… so exhilarated. With a smile she broke into a run for another lap.

“Come on Catori, focus. You can do this. It’s simple. Mom’s painting for me is right above my bed to cheer me on. I can’t let them down, this is a huge event for everyone… I have to win.” With a look of determination Catori worked long into the night working on her entry for the Candidate competition.

Draft after draft after draft.

Catori’s PoV

My hands shook as I cracked a few eggs; I was starving, shaking, nervous, and exhausted. The night hadn’t been kind to me and I didn’t get any sleep so I continued to paint. So many canvases littered my room, though I’m sure I’ll be able to pawn off the failures  at cost. However, the result was something I’m proud of.

Something I can call art. Hopefully the judges think so too.

I set the dishes on the table just as I heard mom heading in from the garden.  I gave her a nervous smile and she rubbed my back in a reassuring manner.

“Looks like you had a long night.” She said with a knowing grin. I couldn’t help but break into a full smile. She knew this feeling well.

“Yeah, nothing really satisfied me. Everything felt so fake… Manufactured. You know?” I looked at her in hopes of consolation and her eyebrows raised.

“I see. Are you happy with the piece you settled on?” She asked. Her tan face turned to examine her easel that I had used without her permission.

“I think so…” I whispered and avoided making eye contact.

“Catori.” She said sharply and I flinched.

“I feel like it is the closest I can currently get to expressing who I  and what I see. Though  am not satisfied with my skill…” I corrected, trailing off only when her expression relaxed once more.

“A true artist will never be satisfied.” Was her response and she pressed her lips together and examined my piece further.

“Well, what do you think?” I asked tentatively.

“As an artist?” She asked. She paused only momentarily before giving her thoughts. “Your technique is amateur…” I bit my bottom lip and tried to not tear up. “Your eye for color is good and your awareness of self is unique. Your artistic vision, however, is a gift.” Her mouth curled into a faint smile and she squeezed my hand. “As your mother I’m extremely proud of how much you’ve grown artistically. Hold your chin high no matter what.”

I beamed at her and hugged her tightly as the rest of the family arrived for breakfast.

The following build is called ‘Museum of Fine Arts’ by the lovely builder, dracifer!

The school was beautiful, marble flooring, high ceilings… it was easy to see how the facility also doubled as a museum. It was a big weekend for the school and its potential students so parking took awhile. Seeing how nervous some of the other applicants looked helped me keep my breakfast down. Just barely. Una was having a blast, as usual, she loved exploring new locations, I merely followed my mother’s footsteps and tried to look as disinterested as possible.

I could scarcely believe today was happening.

“It’s very nice to meet you both.” The Headmistress said, the registration and setting up my painting had taken about an hour.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you as well, I’ve been hearing a lot about your establishment in the art circles these past few years.” Hania said, her expression was open and friendly. I inclined my head politely at the Headmistress a bit too nervous to speak without my voice cracking. Luckily she didn’t ask me anything.

“Thank you! It’s always nice to get praise from local artists. I hope you’ll be willing to stop by and hold a lecture at some point.” the Headmistress said, mother nodded and the woman smiled enthusiastically. “Fantastic, well, let me take you both on a tour then.”

As amazing as the artwork was I was getting really antsy to see the pieces I was competing against. So I decided to speak up, “Umm. could we go to the exhibition room? I haven’t been able to see the other pieces yet…”

“Ah, of course. It’s right this way.” The exhibition room was huge, and smelled like money, what sort of donations did this place get, sheesh. Everything was so different, I was used to painting with my shoes off and enjoying the air and wind. It was a bit stifling, would I really be able to learn here? Mother gently bumped me with her hip as she passed me to walk further into the room.

“Hmm, what do you see, Catori?” she asked though not waiting for an answer. Her words jolted me out of my worrisome thoughts and I focused once more on the art.

There were some really good pieces and some not as good pieces. I don’t even know what styles some of these were in, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself by asking. To me art had always been art… but there were so many categories, styles, and themes. I was really getting to see that I had a lot to learn.

“You’re Catori, right?” A husky voice asked, I found myself looking at a slightly older female. She was beautiful in a natural way with shorn hair and casual clothing. It was certainly her confidence to just go with it that made her look attractive.

“I am?” My voiced raised at the end making my statement a question, I felt very intimidated by her for some reason. She laughed lightly at my awkward response.

“I saw your piece, it’s nice, very light but with a heavy tone.”

“Ah, thank you… I think. Where is your piece?” I asked, not sure if she was messing with me or not. She pointed over her shoulder at a cast iron sculpture.

“That one is mine.” she stated. My mouth dropped a little, it was impressive. She clearly had her technique down pact even if I had no idea who the old dude was. She chuckled at my reaction and started to say something when they announced the results were in!

“First place goes to Thomas Moore! For his spectacular painting, displaying both technique and subject!” the Headmistress’ voice echoed in the room and the crowd applauded. “Second, goes to Lea’an Nasmoore for a splendid sculpture made from recycled metals. An amazing use of materials and technique!” Again the crowd applauded, I smiled at Lea’an.

“Great job!” I whispered to her and she smiled widely at me and whispered a quick thanks as the headmistress continued.

“And third place goes to Catori Whitefeather for a heartfelt alternative water-colour painting, displaying a rarely seen eye in one so young. Thank you to everyone who participated this year!” my family exploded into cheers and I was drown in hugs.

“Congratulations Cat! You did it, I knew you would!” Una squealed and hugged me as tight as she could. If her little arms weren’t holding me I think I would have fainted right then and there.

And just like that, I had officially stepped into the world of artistes just like mom and dad.

Speaking of dad…

“So, I decided that since today is your big day, I’m going to show you my surprise.” Dad said in his normal tenor. He had driven us up to a modern style building called Desert Bloom Records. “You girls and your mother inspired me so here it is, my own Business.”

I squealed in excitement and congratulated him. “So, no more business trips for months at a time?” I asked.

“Nope… I have associates who are younger and more flighty to handle that. Want to take a look around?” he asked. I quickly nodded and he unlocked the door to let us in. As he took me on a small tour, I realized that this was going to be a brand new stage in not only his life, but all of our lives.

I straightened the picture of us onto his office wall before giving him a big hug. “Hey dad…?” I whispered, “Does this mean you and mom are going to get married now?”

He gave me a large squeeze and merely winked before heading out the door, “Let’s head home, kiddo.”

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3 thoughts on “Painting by Number

  1. Pingback: Weekly Stories List - Week of 7/6/2015 - The Sims Legacy Challenge

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