The Laser Fiction - A Serenditous Remove









In Memory
Sean Pettibone



A Serendipitous Remove

Quietly building strength and intensity, the tantalizing and inherently mysterious objects brightened, intensifying rapidly as they swarmed across the night sky. Their glowing presence became increasingly resplendent even as they remained distant; the ebullient displays at their front and trailing paths impossibly far out of reach despite the bright glowing fissures that radiated in immense waves through the night's implacable void. Their incoherent structure, flickering light and wavering energy gave ample evidence as to their inherent composition. Despite what appeared to be an obvious conclusion, there were enough differences from expectations that produced significant doubts. Their sizes weren't uniform, appearing rougher than I was accustomed to, without the compact structure and small embers that seemed to be comported and dislocated by the forms. Their energy flickered on and off, far from the consistent glow I thought would accompany a standard phenomenon. Most significantly, their colors weren't what I though they'd be, with strangely bright streams of light trailing them.

These enormous figures presented diverging hues that threw my usually receptive eyes for an unexpected loop. Confused by their inconsistent appearance, I became reticent in making any overly confident suppositions. I carefully asked her thoughts, wondering quietly if my theory was close to correct. She advised me to look closely, and not immediately jump to conclusions, but trust my perceptions enough to come to an emergent conclusion about the uncontrollable, wildly-veering nocturnal iterations. I turned back and focused on the erratic objects flying across the skies, their strange colors illuminating in cycles, with the primary colors unchanging for the most part, while their arrangement and location seemed to be in a constant state of flux.

Their appearance shifted towards the east, almost imperceptibly at first but grew faster quickly. I knew to keep a close watch on them; it seemed inevitable that they'd inevitably slip from view. Watching them slide across the skies far above was mesmerizing, their strangely beautiful colors were ebullient, vibrant and otherworldly, making for an impressive display. I wondered what created those unexpected hues. They could have represented the culmination of a long process, inexplicably formed by unseen forces of unknown strength and origin. Perhaps, the result of an unusual interaction with the otherworldly atmosphere and its unknowable composition.

Another factor that could have affected our viewpoint was the change in perspective. A quick gaze upward into the atmosphere revealed that we'd arrived at a significant different position that gave us a vastly improved viewing angle. This allowed us greater peripheral vision, with a clearer perspective when we looked towards at the upper reaches above. At that point, they seemed to unfurl into space without end, allowing us to measure and catalog the many divergent objects more effectively. It had taken much energy, but the effort had proven worthwhile.

Our shared arrival signified a tangible reward revealed after completing the long hike over the stony, uneven surface. I wasn't completely sure on this point, but it seemed that we'd also ended up at a much higher altitude than the point we started from, which offered visible advantages, our view no longer blocked by the unfolding, sharp edges of nearby grounds. There was a significant transformation in the atmosphere as well, it felt thinner, its thick clouds dissipated, removing the pervasive haze that intruded on our position. With the long trail firmly behind us, we encountered unexpected depth.

This approach allowed distinct colors to emerge that probably altered the encircling appearance in unexpected ways. Despite my doubts, I was still fairly sure that we'd come across the distinctive form of a meteor shower. Despite occurring at a far remove, circling overhead brightly, with its trailing trails of light only visible briefly. It was a relatively safe conclusion, entailing much work to discover. It became increasingly evident when it appeared, but only showing up for brief interspersed seconds if you knew where to look and watched closely.

It maintained its brightness for an extended period, but I knew it wouldn't last forever. I'd have to keep focus on its appearance in order to internalize its structure design and appearance. I knew to look away occasionally in order to rejuvenate my perspective, allowing myself the sporadic interruption. It would be easy to lose track of time if I let myself get distracted within its tantalizing glow. I didn't want to let it predominate, getting in the way of our larger mission or allowing me to lose sight of her. Still, I remained intrigued by the distinctive form the meteor shower took, seeming to reside effortlessly as it flew across the skies, neither negatively contacting with or visibly affecting the nearby stars and objects.

I waited for its power to subside, but it reacted in the opposite direction. It was initially mystifying when it becoming brighter and more pronounced with each passage overhead. However, while the bursts increased in energy, I saw that the gaps between their illumination became longer. It seemed to be intensifying while moving in the opposite direction from our position. I wondered if we should walk closer in its direction and make a deeper observation. The sharp, uneven surfaces were poorly-lit beneath the night skies. They wouldn't be easy to navigate and the meteors moved far too quickly. It wouldn't be worth the effort. It would be better to observe them carefully, acknowledging their transient state instead of fighting it.

She didn't seem overly worried or distraught as the meteors raced away from us. After several minute, apparently concluding she'd seen enough, she took on another task. Turning nearly three-quarters away from the disruption, she resumed hiking into the unpredictable expanse. It wasn't immediately obvious what she was up to, but it appeared that she was looking for something specific. Her pace grew longer, less cautious and increasingly confident as she traversed the surface. She made quick progress and before I knew what she was doing.

I'd unexpectedly fallen behind the pace without realizing she'd restarted the expedition. I remained overly-attentive to the residual meteors, expending far too much energy on them, I had to rigorously force myself to shake their mesmerizing pull before resuming. Taking a final measure of the meteor shower's design and structure, I hastily memorized their parameters before pivoting back in her direction. She'd slowed down slightly but remained a substantial length ahead of me. I knew the rocky surface of the strange environment wouldn't be easy to navigate but I decided not to risk falling even further behind.

There wasn't time to walk carefully, I needed to think quickly and trust my instincts. Taking a brief pause, I jumped up before running over the ground. I'd become somewhat familiar with the surroundings and the obstacles they drew. At that point, I hoped that I'd effectively dodge any obstacles that might get in the way. Keeping my eyes open, I sprinted towards her. I moved quickly over the surface, but progress wasn't completely smooth. I nearly took a fall, almost tripping at several points but somehow managed to avoid spilling over into the uneven, occasionally spiky formations. I managed to make up ground in a hurry, nearly half the distance between our positions had closed.

At that point, I turned for a quick look back. Managing to locate the narrowed dark sector, it appeared substantially smaller. I waited for another burs of energy to occur, but was disappointed. After a minute, there was a faint glimmer that evaporated almost immediately. I knew that I'd already viewed the closest, brightest angle. There'd be nothing further to discover. Pivoting again, I was fortunate that the remaining distance was largely flat. I ran in a straight line, gliding over the surface until I'd nearly managed to reach her. I slowed down substantially and took my place, walking just behind her position as she scanned the surroundings thoroughly, endeavoring to locate an unseen objective.

Looking above, I noticed an unexpected phenomenon, the skies had grown lighter, the night inexorably giving way to a strange pre-dawn luminance. At first, the dark greys didn't appear substantial but they grew in strength, obscuring much of the atmosphere's dark forms. I took one final look toward the gap. Within minutes, it had completely overcome the meteor shower's residual luminance until it vanished from sight. Surveying the atmosphere, I was unable to locate an early sun but it radiated enough light to engage the ground. Unlike the energy force I was used to, it didn't seem to bring any heat alongside at that early time, adding light quickly.

We watched the emergent sunlight carefully, until she decided to use the brighter skies to her advantage. She walked with increased confidence and greater determination towards the north, then quickly shifting eastward. The creased surfaces remained harsh and unyielding, but the added light made it easier for her to move quickly over them. She managed to swing in quickly-shifting directions with ease, allowing her to make quick progress. It was difficult for me to keep up but she didn't slow down, firmly instructing me to avoid the larger obstructions while warning me to turn away from obstacles. The skies brightened and the contrast in the grounds became clearer. Maintaining their uneven consistency, their defenses seemed to break down under the intensifying light, giving their erratic breaks and interruptions fewer places to hide. This made it easier for us to traverse them, she seemed to have a better idea where she was headed.

This unspoken, yet plainly evident emergent realization on her part enhanced her resolve, reinforcing her increasingly confident stride and pace. This gave her a rare interim where she allowed a peculiar optimism to occur. Held in check by recent encounters, she had enough courage to forge ahead. It seemed that the brightening surroundings had given her a measure of encouragement. She utilized an unexpectedly resolute store of strength and confidence to her advantage. Despite getting drawn away from the correct path temporarily, it appeared she was still headed in the right direction.

Moving relentlessly over the surface, she finally allowed herself a break and slowed down until she found a relatively stable position to rest. This allowed me to catch my breath and survey the atmosphere. It had grown even brighter when I looked above, scanning the atmosphere, it seemed surprisingly docile. It didn't reveal a single cloud in the skies above us, there was nothing circling around. I looked on the flat surface, there weren't any trees, brushes, plants or flowers to be found.

Scanning the grounds, there was a distinct lack of liquid, there weren't any lakes, streams or rivers visible. It seemed obvious that we'd ended up in some kind of desert. An imposing silence and accompanying empty vastness reinforced the isolating endeavor. This could have been discouraging. but the resolute peacefulness we encountered was inherently calming, allowing us an intrinsic buffer separating us from needless distractions and accumulated anxieties. She wasn't immersed excessively on the immediate areas, not getting involved in the emptiness for long. It came as a relief to her to gain a respite, but this didn't prevent her from maintaining an unrelenting focus. Nothing was allowed to disrupt her from reaching the imperative goal.

After pausing for a brief period of contemplation, she came to an unmistakable conclusion. She began walking again towards the east. I noticed that beginnings of a shadow begin to form behind her, which made keeping pace slightly easier. She was moving noticeably slower than she'd previously ventured. I could tell by the deliberate pace that while we hadn't arrived at the objective. we were getting closer to finally uncovering the objective. Unlike previous encounters, the uneven, empty desert locale kept excessive speculation to a minimum, but some anticipation on my part was inevitable. She kept to her predetermined path for the most part, occasionally adjusting direction for several minutes. Keeping simultaneous watch on the rapidly brightening skies while scanning the grounds for inordinate objects wasn't simple, but she managed effectively without detriment.

Undeterred by the exertion caused by traversing another significant length, her pace slowed until she arrived at what appeared to be a jumbled, haphazardly strewn out mess on the ground. At first, it appeared to be nothing more than a bunch of half-open or broken boxes, their contents thrown around in all directions. Taking a few steps closer, I managed to see many numerous flat objects protruding from and sunken into the stony, surfaces nearby. I looked beneath the boxes and saw what appeared to be numerous small pots and containers. They were strewn un different directions and angles, in various states of repair. It seemed that they'd been unused for an extended period, perhaps many years. Looking closely, they were worn and somewhat tattered. There was long-dried residue and dusty remnants of chalky substances covering most of the fragile objects. Further beneath the assorted objects, there appeared to be countless unkempt rolls of fraying fabric covering many additional unknown objects. It was all spread out in the open, clearly visible underneath the direct sunlight above.

Outwardly, it appeared to be a random array of disconnected junk piled together. Taking a deeper, closer viewpoint, it became obvious that there was more to the scattered objects than its appearance suggested. I took in the pieces visually but she jumped right in and began sorting through them. She began to gather the pots and arranged them neatly in a straight line. She didn't bother with the other objects and instead took out the short, broken sticks. I noticed that some of them had what appeared to be short lengths of scrunched-up wire, but walking closer it became apparent that these were actually brushes dangling. After I figured that out, the remaining pieces fell into place quickly. She placed each brush carefully into individual bowls then began the task of unraveling the long sheets. At first, there didn't seem to be anything beneath them, but going over them using a quick length of her hands, she uncovered several rectangular measures of canvas. These were surprisingly sturdy and seemed largely untouched at first glance.
When I took a closer view, I encountered a somewhat disappointing sight. It appeared that some of them had warped slightly and become noticeably discolored from extended periods exposed to the unrelenting sun. She continued unraveling them methodically. While most of them were intact, they all seemed to suffer from significant flaws upon closer inspection. This was disappointing to some extent, but balanced by the mere fact of their existence in such a forlorn location. It wasn't clear how they'd arrived there, and I couldn't figure out whether they'd gotten there through accidental coincidence or whether they'd been placed deliberately. Their mysterious origins weren't as important as their function. She saw that I was getting a little lost in contemplation, but dwelled on the wrong aspects of our discovery.

She reminded me to not dwell on their shortcomings. She resolutely began placing numerous flawed canvases side-by-side on the ground. None of them appeared excessively worn-down or broken when seen together, and in fact they appeared surprisingly durable, despite their rough edges. Looking at them closely, she resolutely announced that she'd work with them despite their imperfections. Her confidence went a long way in diminishing my reluctance and disappointment. She examined the somewhat large assortment closely until she found one that seemed adequate. It was slightly warped to a noticeable degree and discolored, but its defects weren't as pronounced as the others.

Lifting it from the crowd before steadfastly holding in her hand, she carried it away from the main assemblage and set it to the right of the pile. She returned to the accumulation and looked for something else. This took several minutes but she couldn't seem to find what she sought. I wondered what else might be missing but couldn't quite figure exactly what it might be. She didn't say a word, but subsequently revealed the absent piece when walked back to the canvas and attempted to stand it upwards in place, but lacking a stand for support, it quickly collapsed when she tried placing it vertically.

Standing above it, she was unable to find a way to keep it upright at first. I came and stood alongside her. There was nothing to attach it to, which presented a problem she couldn't quite untangle. I waited for her to arrive at a conclusion but she instead walked back to the pile and resumed searching for a supportive hutch or balance to use. While she looked around the rugged, irregular formations, I took a slightly different route. I noticed small metal tubes laying around randomly spread across the ground. I picked one up and looked it over cautiously. Feeling its static surface, it appeared to have solidified, with a hard edge that didn't give way when I squeezed it. Holding it closely, I managed to find a miniature opening on one end that was sealed shut. Covered by residual layers of partially melted paint, the tube felt surprisingly full, but I needed an effective method to open its blocked extremity.

There was a lack of tools nearby and the metallic encasement wouldn't give way, despite numerous attempts. It wouldn't budge and open no matter how hard I pressed down on the surface. I decided to surrender to the inflexible casing and picked up a different one from the ground. This one seemed to be more promising since it was crinkled and crooked, appearing somewhat bent with a substantial amount having been used. I turned the tube away from me toward the opposing end facing downward so its innards wouldn't spray all over and squeezed it strongly. I was surprised that it gave off a somewhat loud bang but disappointed when all that came out of it was a small stream of brownish dusty particles that quickly dissipated.
It looked like the paints had dried-out long before I ever touched them. I was disappointed, but there was enough remaining material active that I decided quickly to try another tube. Looking over the scattered tubes required me to look closely and make determinations as to which would be most likely to prove useful. I finally decided to take an average looking from that was still partially full. When I held it in my hands, it felt half-full but softer than the previous ones. I took another chance a held it firmly over the ground, and was happily surprised with the results. Instead of a gasp of dust or a whisper of empty air, the tube gave way, setting forth a narrow flow of damp, rough yellow paint. Its texture was muddy and discolored in spots but the paint was still useable.

I sorted through the various tubes and placed them in different piles relatively quickly. I toiled at a consistent yet speedy pace. Many of them weren't functional, with many dried-out, depleted or otherwise destroyed. However, enough of them retained enough color and strength that I was able to assemble a rough palette of colors, which filled up the majority of the bowls. I decided not to attempt draining everything, leaving a few empty for overage and other misuses that might occur. This didn't take me nearly as long as I expected, but by the time I'd finished, the morning sun had become intense, shining brightly. She was momentarily distracted by searching for any type of stand to position the canvas and seemed somewhat surprised by the efficiency and accuracy of my efforts. She walked over towards the assembled paints, surveying each fragile container carefully.

It was an unlikely combination of colors, and it wasn't immediately clear what they could be used for. After several minutes, she registered her approval by placing the imperfect, yet somehow ideal canvas alongside them, creating a strangely assembled, imprecisely grouped objects. It felt somehow unified forming a temporary outdoor studio where she'd be able to create her compositions without hindrances. I watched her move inward until she stood partially surrounded by the hastily-created tools. I gazed upon her warily, hoping I'd managed to build something that at least partially met her expectations. I watched her looking over the hastily constructed arrangement and was relieved when she nodded her head in my direction, affirming my efforts with unspoken appreciation and gratitude. She looked back towards the assemblage, and made a few minor adjustments. Switching the painting until it was higher up towards the line of paints, and placing the empty bowls farther apart. Despite the pronounced imperfections, I was relieved that the results surpassed her modest expectations.

The pressure on my shoulders lifted when she stood in place and took a deep breath, took one of the brushes and began moving it above the canvas in the air, before beginning the early stages of sketching out her design. There wasn't much detail to her lines, I couldn't decipher her lines with clarity or deduce the purpose. Looking closer, I noticed a significant divergence immediately. Her hands seemed freer, more fluid than they'd previously shown. She wasn't hemmed in and worked in larger, broader strokes. They appeared far less deliberate and it seemed that she wasn't pressured by someone watching her. She was free to construct and experiment while creating exactly what she wanted to.

She wasn't technically constrained, allowing the odd combination of unrefined tools to flourish unencumbered. It was a further relief when she began overlooking their defects instead happily improvising to uncover their buoyant potential. She continued working uninterrupted for awhile, she made steady progress. The circle washed over her, creating oddly contradictory expectations - limited by rudimentary mechanical implementation but unfettered from arbitrary requirements about what she was supposed to create.

It appeared that she was making steady progress implementing her vision, but when I walked closer, a fraying edge began to emerge. Her lines had steadily grown shorter and more tentative. She seemed to be expending much effort, but the main-thrust of her design seemed to elude her. Despite the long-journey and extensive preparation, it seemed that she'd encountered an invisible wall that she didn't anticipate. She moved back and looked over the collection of objects. It was impressive but she remained stymied when time arrived to discover her overarching purpose. Despite the humble origins of its components and pieces, they gave no tangible clue as to precisely where to begin or more precisely, what path to follow after assuming control. She reluctantly put down her brush, and stood quietly over the scowled lines covering the disfigured canvas. She waited for something to occur that might lead her onward, but the silence she encountered seemed to defeat her momentum unexpectedly.

Standing alongside the accumulation, I remained proud that I'd been able to assist with building the conflagration for her. I wasn't concerned by her lack of progress and was sure she'd think of something. Meantime, I took satisfaction in the configuration I devised. It looked good, and was functional, the most impressive aspect from my limited viewpoint. I watched her attention pivot towards the canvas on the ground before going back to the paints and brushes, then returned several times. She was seemingly unable to decide how to proceed. After turning the canvas around several more times, she eventually came to what appeared to be a promising angle. I watched her start to compose new lines and circles and she seemed to be making some headway. Until she stopped suddenly, unable to continue for some inexplicable reason. Nothing seemed to inspire or encourage her, despite many frustrating attempts. I wondered how to counter this sudden lack of motivation but had no idea how I could assist her.

Her mute observation became increasingly worrisome the longer it lasted. Attempting to get out of her way, I walked away from the arranged objects, hoping that by clearing a path, I'd no longer be interfering. I got away quickly before she noticed what was happening, but still remained safely within view. I turned my head eastward and stared into the endless flat surface, attempting to distract myself while she hopefully resumed building her composition. When I turned around and looked in her direction, I couldn't anticipate what happened.

Without warning, she took my exit the wrong way. While I was distracted she quickly walked outside the immediate circumference and then beyond its borders until she was standing alongside me. She left behind the bowls, brushes and the scratched-up canvas, abandoning them in place without maneuvering them further. I wasn't exactly sure what she had in mind, but noticed that she was holding one of the shorter brushes at her side. Motioning for me to walk closer, she extended the narrow accouterment outward.

It wasn't immediately clear, until she thrust it outward in my direction, nearly shoving the brush into my hand. I wasn't expecting her to concede leadership, she was far more skilled, talented and experienced than I could muster. It seemed strange for her to give up the most obvious path at such a critical point in our mission. However, I noticed a pall of discouragement seemed to have overcome her, she was in need of a break and had decided that it was time to give me a chance. Perhaps, I'd have better luck.

Her motivation was correct but I was reluctant to go along with the sudden change in course, fearing that I wasn't prepared. Conversely, I'd put a lot of work into arranging the various pieces, and didn't want to let my efforts go to waste. She noticed my nervousness and reassured me that It was worth taking a chance. It wouldn't be held against me if things didn't work out. I decided to take a risk and walked over towards the circular arrangement, somewhat unprepared. Noticing the impetuously marked canvas still laying on the ground, I picked it up and placed it away from the paints. I walked over towards the others and quickly decided to use one that had a similar texture. It was discolored and warped, but it was smaller in size, which made it less intimidating for a novice such as myself.

I took it in a firm grasp, and turned it over to check for hidden flaws. Finding none. I was satisfied and placed it alongside the paints on the ground. It seemed smaller than I thought, but its empty space seemed to grow the longer I contemplated filling it. She stood back quietly in place and I knew she wouldn't interfere, unless I needed help. It was her turn to observe from a distinct remove. Walking I made additional preliminary adjustments to the surroundings. I placed the painting closer towards the circumference carefully to avoid knocking over the fragile bowls. I found myself unsure what to do when my brush reached the central area. I looked back in her direction for guidance, but she offered only a polite nod of her head. I pondered what to do next and my mind was, like hers, at a loss as to how to proceed.

Closing my eyes briefly helped clear the accumulated pressure away. Focusing on the task ahead, my mind worked quickly. After discarding many inadequate approaches, I pre-determined the right paths after several attempts. There were many options but I narrowed them down systematically. This seemed to take forever, I was eager to get started but didn't want to make mistakes that would waste precious time and expend effort. Without warning, but at just the right time, there was a wave of inspiration when I knew precisely how to proceed.

Inspired by the startling revelation, I sprung into action almost immediately. My first task was setting up a useful space. It didn't require anything elaborate, yet remained functional. Without anything to hold it up, I improvised and placed the long canvas carefully across from my position on the ground. I maneuvered my body until I was kneeling at a precise angle where I wasn't blocking its position. It took a minute to find the right spot, but the canvas was brightly illuminated beneath the bright sunlight in a hurry. I turned it around so its exposed surface was close and facing towards me, allowing for unfettered access.

This aspect was especially important because I needed to build the background quickly. I looked over the mass of paint and none of the colors were a precise fit. I decided to mix two of the brown liquids with a dirty gray. I had to be careful not to use too much. I couldn't go back if the paints didn't combine as I hoped. I was nervous but knew I was contaminating them for a good cause. Somehow, my theory worked after careful mixing. This combination created a darker, consistent hue that approximated the night sky I'd encountered earlier.

It wasn't a perfect match, not entirely smooth in appearance and design but it was close enough. Since the combined paints were abundant, I had no trouble covering the entire surface. Working quickly with one of the larger brushes, my fingers worked feverishly to slap together and forge the primary backdrop. The streaks of paint didn't have the anticipated smoothness but their rough, patchy surface appeared somewhat dense, just strong enough. Stepping back a couple steps, I was concerned by an external problem. The paint appeared excessively liquid, it was far too wet. It ran over itself at the slightest touch. It would run, waver and smudge if I wasn't careful.

The instability worried me, until my eyes looked above. My gaze was immediately drawn upward and I looked towards the invigorated atmosphere. There was a breezy gust of hot mid-day sun pounding directly on its surface with unrelenting bright heat. I quickly realized that it wouldn't take long for the liquid paints to converge and solidify. I only had to take a few short minutes until the backdrop dried completely. After a short wait, I'd be able to safely add layers to the base without ruining it by running the colors, letting them mix into the backdrop. I needed several minutes to map out the remaining sections. Breaking my concentration for a minute, I decided to look back over in her direction. She stood silently, watching over me silently without a word. I waited for to say something, but she remained quiet, staying out of the way. I wandered away from the painting for a moment and looked over the varied bowls of paint.

The limited palette might have constrained her abilities, but it had the opposite effect on me. I wasn't accustomed to using all those different options. I was further confused by their limited range. None of them appeared to match the colors I'd memorized beforehand, implementing any sort of recreation would fall short, no matter which mixes I attempted. Puzzled by these inadequate, somewhat limited choices, there was a strangely unsettling realization that I'd have to accept partial defeat before I began. Looking for advice reluctantly, I nervously asked for her to walk closer so I wouldn't have to yell. She took a moment to decide whether or not I needed help. She thought about it for awhile and eventually decided to assist me. It would give her something to do while she waited for her inspiration to return ; a little nudge wouldn't hurt. Arriving at my side, she listened as I explained my troubles. She thought about the narrow range of colors and told me that I good strategy might be to approximate the relative luminance and intensity of the meteor shower, not aiming for a perfect render, but something that could convey its magnificent display in an illustrated fashion. I asked her how I'd be able to work with so many different colors at the same time and still keep their many separate, splitting and converging paths straight.

Realizing that I was embarking on the wrong path, she advised me to avoid trying do everything at once. It would be better, she maintained, if I focused on a single color at a time, and then move on to others only after that portion was complete. Finally, she told me to stop looking at the canvas as a vast empty space to fill, but instead look at it like a window, where I could see beauty and color alongside detail. I needed to find a good balance between those competing elements. She explained that was a tricky balancing act I'd have to discover for myself, she couldn't help me there. The rest was entirely up to me. She stepped back and waved, wished me good luck a returned to her perch. Internalizing her advice seemed like a good idea, it would save effort, and I could work much faster. I no longer felt pressure to create a flawless, strictly representative and photographic picture from scratch. This freed me to experiment creatively and make adjustments to fit inside what now appeared to be a shrinking window. It came as a relief that achieving perfection was no longer the objective; effective representation was a more attainable goal.

Determined to stand on my own, I motioned a relieved gratitude and set forth on the true beginnings of my portrait. Knowing the colors wouldn't combine to form perfect colors allowed me to experiment, and I did so along the edges. I began with what seemed like a watery yellow and splashed a miniature portion onto the canvas and waited for it to dry. I wasn't expecting the resulting flourish. It took on an altered appearance that seemed brighter, almost glowing in a neon pastel finish. This was surprising and gave the splotch of paint an immediate contrast with the surrounding area. It stood out immediately. I took a second swing of the brush that was longer and reinforced the first swipe. It extended further than the first, still brilliant and somehow became brighter as well. However, I noticed that as the paint began to run out, frayed edges began to appear at its ends, scattering the paint diffusing its light with significant transformation creating an immediately visible divergence.

This wasn't my plan, and the results didn't quite match. It departed from the smoother grade I visualized in my memories, where the trail faded gradually and smoothly. Fortunately, the rougher appearance created a movement and implied a sense of motion that appeared to fit the purpose, regardless of accuracy. Examining the first swath of color, I was impressed by the serendipitous reaction, which didn't produce the intended effect, but marked a distinctively affecting approach. Upon closer inspection, I felt its uneven lines sparked another unexpected alignment that reflected the sharp edges of the surface below, with their uneven appearance. Allowing it to dry and set fully reinforced the results of my initial experiment, my test strokes succeeded in bringing resplendent energy to the composition. The lines formed paths then attached to the canvas fully. I watched as the lines expanded until they seemed to rise. Contrasting with the darkened surroundings, the pastel streaks percolated beneath the boiling sunlight until it appeared like they were jumping off the canvas.

I found myself growing increasingly inspired by the fixture's early progress, and began to feel a bit impatient. This increased my motivation and I spread the paint over the surface quickly. It took no time to cover the majority of the canvas, but I remembered her advice and held back the pace a little. I needed to slow down and think ahead, and not step on my own progress. I was tempted to go all out in a hurry, but I tempered my excitement and kept a steadier pace. This approach took me a little while longer, but it seemed to work better since I wasn't making major mistakes that I'd have to go back and correct. While I was excited, I followed her advice and stuck to the same color throughout my initial render. Even though I was tempted to go all-out and rush ahead, I allowed it to settle before moving forward. I waited for the yellow paint to dry. It looked better than anticipated, extending and building on the early promise it showed. Instead of rushing ahead, I took a moment and decide which color I'd use next.
I looked over the remaining paints and decided to focus on the blue paint. It didn't seem as strong as the yellow and there wasn't as much in the container, so I'd have to use it sparingly, careful to space the lines somewhat evenly and at a longer space, in order to mark the space with enough spark to elicit the color while not overwhelming any particular section with too much of the same hue. I had to think and make the balance carefully, which meant I couldn't paint recklessly but it proved to be the correct approach that successfully filled in the paining. At this point, I paused and took a step back. The painting was filling in at a good clip and offered parallel sets of intriguing lines that complimented and contrasted one another effectively. The brushes were a little rough, but they maintained enough consistency and fidelity to form the outlines of an effective illustration. My early progress made for a promising start, especially at such an early point in the process. I looked in her direction, but she remained noncommittal, her neutral expression neither positive or excessively critical. She let me forge my own path, and while it could have been daunting to move ahead without rules, it was perfect for my situation, allowing me to experiment without fear. I was grateful to her for taking this hands-off approach. I was happy she trusted me enough by that point. My biggest worry wasn't disappointing her technically but revealing a lack of imagination.

Continuing to outline forms with the drawing, I decided that it needed additional variance, and took it on myself to work in a thinner bands using a smaller brush. At first, these smaller approached didn't seem to enhance the painting, but they worked in culmination to create a more robust environment. I moved on and looked over additional brushes and colors before layering on several additional colors. I was surprised that they seemed to interact strongly with the base paint, illuminating in brighter pastels. I wasn't sure what exactly caused this reaction but I found the effect to be striking. Taking the time to consistently draw the numerous lines grew a little tiresome after awhile, but I wasn't going to let minor cramps in my fingers and hands stop me. Resolving that I wasn't going to be satisfied with an incomplete picture,

I divided the canvas. Drawing on smaller sections was far less intimidating, and it seemed to make the somewhat tedious task go faster. I paused when each section was completed, making sure things were evenly spaced and proportioned, so it wasn't too crowded or sparse. It didn't take much effort, but my approach appeared to work in unexpected ways. The shorter portions dried faster, allowing me to move ahead with shorter pauses. Additionally, I was able to make corrections and add needed streaks where necessary without having to lose much time. As the canvas began to fill in, I saw what was becoming a surprisingly energetic field come into view. I hadn't done so purposely but when I squinted and looked at it from certain tilted angles, it seemed that the streaking lines were flowing, almost moving across the canvas. I wasn't sure why this occurred, but wasn't going to argue with the happy accident.

Containing numerous objects, the canvas began to seem a tad crowded. The numerous intersecting meteors started overlapping until they crashed into one another. I decided that I'd nearly reached enough elements, and didn't want to overdo things. It was difficult to know when to stop, but I was tempted to add more subjects to my illustration. Looking over, I was surprised to see that I'd only used a small portion of the different paints, and it seemed to be a shame to leave them there to dry out in the sunlight again. After giving it some thought, a useful approach I decided on was to go back and cover the ones I wasn't using so they wouldn't turn into hard sludge in the heat, and then have to melt again. Returning focus on the otherworldly painting, I watched it harden and the firmer look seemed to give its numerous streaks and paths more definition.

Looking closely, following the various paths and trace their lines outward to their trailing paths without getting confused or hitting dead-ends. This was the result of taking a measured approach, which gave the meteor a surprisingly realistic appearance that I hadn't anticipated. When nearly finished, I decided to sit down and examine it from a closer angle. It looked a bit rougher than anticipated, with broken-up sections of paint, some stray lines and errors that I found distracting and annoying. Tracing the lines closely, I noticed that they didn't unfold at the same angle while their spacing was a little erratic. Beyond this, I wondered how it would look when it was completely dark. I wondered if the bright pastel lines were really the result of a reaction, or if their appearance was due to the bright sun beating on them causing a brighter reflection to occur. I couldn't be entirely sure thanks to the mysterious surroundings. I found it difficult to reconcile these factors. To get a better angle, I leaned forward and kneeled over them, hoping to find answers with a closer examination.

I found myself becoming visually disoriented when looking into the meteors, they seemed to become stronger and seemed to change colors when examining them closely. The painted meteors seemed to maintain an inexplicably strong pull, eventually drawing me into their field to a degree I hadn't anticipated. I felt myself growing somewhat stranded within their limited parameters, and lost track of time momentarily. I felt myself fall into a partial hypnosis that lasted for a time. This lasted for awhile but its spell was broken when I felt something on my back. I turned around and immediately knew that she'd watched me succumb to its gaze. She'd apparently rushed over, knocking over a couple of bowls in the process but pulled me out just in time. I was grateful that she'd interrupted the respite, when i looked up, I noticed the afternoon had grown a little late, and the lengthening shadows at my sides only reinforced this. Quickly, I stood up and thanked her quickly. I knew there was little time to waste. She'd begun to lose patience and asked me if I was done yet. After observing closely. It was the right time to withdraw my last brush. Returning to its matching bowl finalized the composition. I knew the painting didn't need further adjustment.

Waiting her verdict caused anxiety but I knew she trusted me, so I wasn't excessively worried. I just wanted confirmation that I hadn't let her down. She examined the canvas without saying a word a gave little indication as to how she felt about my rough approach. I'd spent a lot of time on it, and I felt the sun diminishing, falling into early dusk. She circled towards the other side of the circumference silently and didn't give me any idea where she stood in relation to my painting. I wasn't clear on what she thought, and I began to worry that she didn't approve. Standing across from her, I waited for any kind of response, but she didn't offer one. I waited for what seemed like an eternity. Without saying another word, she did something I didn't expect. She turned away from my painting and walked to the other side of the circular piles. She paused for a moment, before crouching towards the ground. I wondered what she was doing, until she began rifling through the nearby canvases looking for a mostly blank one she could use.

I thought she'd try to re-use her earlier sheet, but recalled its scratched-up, cluttered surface. It was too late. There wasn't enough time for her to attempt saving the discarded canvas. She instead located and picked up another canvas. She examined it quickly, found only cosmetic flaws but minor visible damage. I was surprised that placed it beside my painting. I wondered what she was planning, perhaps she was going to show me the correct method of painting, but I was wrong. Instead, she took hold of a brush and began painting the canvas. It seemed my efforts inspired her and she began anew. It wasn't immediately clear what it could have been, but I quickly realized she was starting a completely different picture than the one I'd just completed. Immediately, I noticed that she'd found unexpected inspiration. There appeared to be a renewed energy and purpose in her that had released somehow. She began to mark the surface with unhesitatingly bold brush-strokes that appeared significantly stronger than her tentative initial renditions earlier that day.

Without undue hesitation, she began filling her blank canvas quickly with a greater speed and increased assurance than I'd observed earlier that day. It seemed that she had broken the barrier, locating a replenished reserve of inspiration unexpectedly. This might have occurred when she watched me go through my inarticulate process and finish the design effortlessly. Watching closely, I found her reasoning and structure unbreachable. Attempting to decipher what she planned proved nearly impossible. She seemed to have purposely covered it with obscure, strange characters I couldn't read or understand. She was moving too fast, her hands swirled around the canvas at an unstoppable pace. It was strange watching her intently focus on the task at hand, forsaking her surroundings and the immediate area.

Drawn inexorably into an elaborate interference dispersal, I found myself ensnared by the numerous carefully-positioned switches, levers and coils located on the circumference. These carefully-set pieces defeated my defensive efforts. Walking almost involuntarily and breaching her invisible fortress, I ventured ever-closer despite my best efforts not to interfere. I was immediately surprised by her recalcitrant, demonstrably inscrutable approach. It appeared that she'd completely forgotten about the meteor, but what had replaced her attention wasn't immediately clear. I wanted to move a few steps closer, but stopped short of the point where the content of her sketch would become visible. I knew, even at that early stage that it was far more elaborate.

Realizing what was happening, my decision was reiterated: I resolved not stand in her way. Holding the temptation intrusiveness at bay while watching quietly gave her ample space to work on her elaborate task. Excessive pressure would only lead to diminished results. She continued to elaborate, yet succinctly implement, another intricate, deliberate and unmistakable design silently. I watched her hands move tirelessly, without pausing for a break for a quarter-hour, without slowing down or hesitating in the slightest. It was obvious that she wasn't going to lose her momentum again. Systemically, she forged through tirelessly. Building its base, constructing an elaborate formation before implementing subsequent completion. She worked quickly at a steady pace.

After enduring an unflinching quarter-hour, she resolutely finished what appeared to be the last portion and finally allowed herself to rest. Shaking residual wariness from her hands, before resting them at her side, she began contemplating her intricate design. Looking over it carefully, with attentive silence, she seemed relieved the piece had resolved to her standards. She returned to the composition, making minor adjustments. Studiously excavating several final stray pieces from it before pronouncing it nearly finalized. Maintaining a respectful remove apart, my focus narrowed while awaited resolution indicated a silent signal. It wasn't difficult to sustain my patience since I knew she'd finally reached a demonstrable point. Assuming that I wouldn't need to wait much longer, my endurance was rewarded when I saw her hands move over to reinforce her unstructured, deliberate illustration, non-verbally signaling a firm resplendence permeating its totality.

Her attention quickly pivoted, returning focus in my direction. She waved at me, inviting me to join her. She appeared unusually confident, taking a welcome measure of release from the arduous process leading to its completion. Appearing pleased with the elaborate construction, it appeared finished after unwavering effort. Requiring no additional calibration, she confidently allowed me an opportunity to look over the finished piece without trepidation or inhibition. It wasn't immediately apparent what its permutations indicated but they appeared to grow more significant as my position drew closer. Taking several uneasy steps toward the canvas, allowed for extensive insight into the composition. The resulting denouement occurred within a fractional period. It thoroughly engaged my imagination, simultaneously creating. then transcending narrow expectations.

- Michael Palisano