The girl who painted sunsets hated night.
Or rather, she hated the man who brought nights.
He was cocky with his punctuality, arriving every day at the exact same time to wash her paintings in inky black. He had no regard for her art, no regard for the pink and golden hues she slaved over. She doubted he even had a soul to appreciate it.
One day, when he arrived exactly on time, she stood there waiting for him, arms crossed over her chest. “Why do you hate color?” she demanded of him.
The man of nights gave her a lazy grin. “Black has more mystery than your pretty colors ever will.”
He tugged one one of her locks of hair before spreading his arms wide and drowning her sunset in a mass of darkness.
He did not give her a moment to admire her work one more time before he washed it out. He did not even apologize.
The girl who painted sunsets and the man of nights went on this way for centuries. They did not age because they were the only ones who could paint the skies. It was lonely work, but they never put aside their differences to become friends. The girl who painted sunsets wanted nothing to do with the monster that ruined them. The man of nights thought his work was above the girl who painted sunsets, so he didn’t want anything to do with her either.
But as the centuries continued to pass and the two painters began to realize how mortal and lonely the world was, an unexpected thing began to happen.
The man of nights began to look forward to seeing the sunset every evening. The colors made him happy. The girl who painted them made him smile.
He still had to wash her colors away, but on some days, his heart would break when he saw the sadness in her eyes, and he would let her admire her creation for a few moments more.
Every night, after the man had washed the color from the sky, he would take care to arrange the stars in new patterns, hoping to catch the girl’s attention. The newspapers called the stars a ‘phenomenon’. The girl who painted sunsets didn’t notice.
More centuries passed with the man of nights continuing to soften his heart toward the girl and create glistening masterpieces for her.
More centuries passed where the girl who painted sunsets continued to harden her heart toward the man’s advances. She could never love the one who destroyed her work.
The man of nights began to get desperate. He could not live in a world of loneliness and heartache any longer.
At the end of a masterful sunset, he met the girl and fell to his knees before her. “What must I do to earn your affection?”
The girl who painted sunsets thought for a moment, and when she looked down at the man of nights, her eyes were devoid of warmth.
“Leave my sunsets alone. Give up your art. Only then will I love you.”
The man of nights was stunned to hear such a proposal, but nonetheless, he thought it over. Giving up his passion for inky blackness and intricate constellations would involve misery. But surely he could bear it if the girl loved him, if he didn’t have to feel lonely anymore.
He rose to his feet and kissed both of her cheeks. “Consider it done.” And he left, for he had no work to do, no passionate masterpiece to create. He took what he presumed was her affections with him.
At first, the girl who painted sunsets relished in his absence. She wouldn’t mind sending him her affections since he wasn’t spoiling her work any longer.
But the hours grew long. Where once the masterpiece of night would have been, she had to stay up and paint so the sky wouldn’t be devoid of color until the morning.
A weariness so deep and heavy, even for an immortal, settled in her bones.
She began to hate the man of nights for leaving her in this predicament. This had to be part of some deeper, more awful plan. If he had really loved her, really wanted her affections, he shouldn’t have put her in this situation.
The days wore on. The girl who painted sunsets got sloppy with her work. Her creativity ebbed away. People were getting sick of the constant sunsets, sick of her.
And one day, while the girl cried as she tried to draw enough strength to weave colors in the sky in a new way, she realized that her self-pity was foolishly misplaced.
The man of nights had not abandoned her to a horrible fate such as this. She had told him to go. And, because he loved her and so desired her love in return, he had given up his own masterpieces to do as she wished.
But the people didn’t want one kind of art. It wasn’t in human nature to appreciate Picasso and nobody else, to appreciate sculptures and not sketches. They wanted variety: darkness and stars, colors and light, dark mysteries and light fantasies. They wanted something more than what her own paintings could convey.
The girl who painted sunsets realized she missed the man’s art too.
She sat down her paintbrush, leaving her own art unfinished, dried her eyes, and then called out to the man of nights. She called three times before he appeared.
“Yes?” he mumbled, lowering his eyes.
“I was wrong,” the girl breathed. “I was selfish and foolish. The world needs both of our art. I need your art. I need its stars and its mystery. Paint for me, my love, and I hope to one day earn as much of your affection as you have mine.”
The man of nights drew her to him and kissed both her cheeks again with tears in his eyes. “My darling, I will paint the most magnificent sky the world has ever seen in your honor.”
The girl who painted sunsets was not sad to see her art washed away. Instead, she sat back and marveled as the man of nights went to work, designing the sky as only he could.
Decades after, the newspapers would still call that night sky the prettiest to ever grace the earth.
~Thoughts? Please feel free to comment below!~
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