by Carl Scharwath

Photo by Carl Scharwath


Art should have been her savior, but in the end her delicate life was consumed by creativity. When Aria’s father died her world began to emerge into a new realm. She had felt this new presentment: all one had to do is witness the transformation of her home. Once clean and ordered, Aria began to hoard. Unopened mail, catalogs, empty boxes, clothes and a compulsive shoppers treasures soon littered the floor and furniture. The vista began to close in like storm clouds filling in the blue of a morning sky. Then the storms and lightening came, a constant pain in her feet that was only relieved with pain killers. This was not a gentle medicine, but a prescribed poison that filled her with toxins and turned her blood into pharmaceutical rivers.

Aria’s only sin was her innocence and her past life was filled with hope and challenges. She had a boyfriend of 13 years who she adored and loved. His support was one of trust and loyalty. Many times he challenged her to break from the shell of shyness and insecurities to share her passions with others. Unfortunately there was always an excuse of either not being quite ready or her need to create more art and needing the time to sort through each piece. Her lover, a dedicated runner even took the time to teach Aria his passion. They started slow together, just like their tender relationship until 1 year later Aria proudly completed her first half-marathon. He knew about the pain pills and wanted her to be free from this devil in a plastic bottle and thought exercise was the real prescription.

The trusted boyfriend knew the skeleton in his lovers closet, every single bone an intricate part of her psyche held in a non-judgmental silence. Aria reminded me of that time in life when you patiently waited for other people to tell you whether or not you were OK, and trusted them, as if there could be no other way to find out. The boyfriend unfortunately had his own skeleton in the closet, he was married. Their relationship weathered this awkward situation with simply perfected love between two souls searching for an answer together.

All seemed to have changed suddenly and without warning.The only empty space in her home was the bed. The sheets seemed to encase and protect her until noon, however each new day only welcomed Aria to prolonged boredom and hopelessness. With so much free time, the former artist discovered a long-lost passion. Art was her obsession and the art that answered her passion was collage art. Countless magazines and catalogs supplied the images while her fingers painstakingly applied them to a one inch square canvas. Over time at least seventy images filled tiny easels and were spread throughout the rooms. Hundred of eyes stared at her, perfected models seemed to mock and surrealistic backgrounds would not welcome her into this tiny world that she created.

Suddenly and slowly a new change happened like the start of a snow fall, with flakes dancing schizophrenically seeking an empty spot on the ground to cover. Night terrors and sleepwalking, a side effect from the medicine would hamper her only chance for peace. This adverse and unintended consequence interrupted her delta sleep with confusion and arousal. Aria heard voices from the other rooms, the eyes of the collages followed her knowingly, the mouths moved slightly as she navigated each step timidly. Upon awakening some of the collages appeared to change places throughout the rooms. Her memory of sleep walking was clouded, the flashbacks and voices could have only been a dream? The movement of the art a physiological trick of the mind? Tired and distressed her only focus was to create more collages.

The apartment was now totally closing in on Aria. The floors were completely covered with unopened mail and slick, slippery, glossy magazines. She could no longer venture out unless it was to fill a prescription that invoked a fictitious euphoria and an invisible crutch to save her from anxiety.

Most nights her sleep-walking and frequent bathroom trips were blessed by some invisible hand or memory motor skills. She navigated the littered landscape and delicately avoided brushing against any collages that seemed perched like tiny, lonely headstones awaiting a visit. The visit would come again after a heavy dose of pharmaceuticals and a toxic mix of depression and fear. The dream turned realistic and her dark eyes kept staring as she explored the darkness. She felt her soul tearing away from each bone of her skeleton as if giving up on a blemished life. Her pupils had grown bigger and bigger until they transformed into huge black lakes of fear. Each step felt different this time, each step methodical in a growing feeling of vertigo. Her balance like the exit from a carnival ride caused a fall against the art table. Aria barely awake felt sleep and blood rushing from her head. The blood flowed over an unfinished collage mixing pigment with humanity and the final creation.



Carl Scharwath has appeared globally with 100+ journals selecting his poetry, short stories, essays or art photography. Two poetry books ‘Journey To Become Forgotten’ (Kind of a Hurricane Press) and ‘Abandoned’ (ScarsTv) have been published. Carl is the art editor for Minute Magazine, a dedicated runner and 2nd degree black-belt in Taekwondo.


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