Captured in Color
by Rebecca Lang
They'd shut out every photograph, every video, every image of her face. But they couldn't shut out his dreams. Her beauty clawed at his chest, like a living thing trying to get out. So Frank took to the streets with tubes of paint and a can of brushes.
Tonight he painted her face on a wall of crumbling concrete bricks.
Blue. That was the color of his work. Deep indigo, mixed with violet, as rich as her eyes. Long strokes with a thick brush formed the frame of her face. Delicate swipes created wispy strands of hair. The pent-up pressure of his chest eased, and Frank's heart became as still as a mountain lake.
Once more, he saw her.
Once more, the memories rushed through him.
Back then he was just a poor kid with dirty hands. He didn't belong in her house. But the window was open, the gauzy apricot curtains fluttering in the breeze. So Frank climbed in.
He'd broken into mansions before, pilfered jewelry and crystal paperweights and silver cigarette trays. Never sold them. He collected them. Pretty little baubles for his dumpster apartment. Some nights, when the shouting got too loud, he'd turn them over and over in his hands, staring at their shiny exteriors, as though they could somehow gloss the darkness of his soul.
In the house with the apricot curtains, a porcelain vase sat on a table. Frank wrapped his hands around it.
Light flooded the room.
There she stood. Golden curls trembling against peach skin. A little red mouth, lipstick just starting to chap off. Clear blue eyes, wide with shock. She froze, and their eyes locked together. Electricity sizzled under Frank's skin.
She was the perfect summer day.
Sirens sounded, blue flashing lights. Jane, his parole officer, pulled up to the curb.
"Oh, honey, not again."
Jane was a tall, stately woman with hard angles to her face. She had short brown hair and long fingers. While Frank cleaned his brushes, Jane snapped a photo on her tablet for evidence and called in the vandalism charge. Out of respect to the victim, she took a can of black spray paint and blotted out his portrait.
"That'll be another six months added to your chip," she said. "You're only hurting yourself."
No one really understood why he kept coming back. Why night after night, he broke into her house, stood over her bed, gazed at her sleeping face, and left pink and yellow portraits dripping on her walls.
Stalking, they called it and put a chip in his arm. The chip blocked her picture from any electronic device he used and websites bearing her name. He couldn't come within five hundred yards of her or an alarm would sound on her phone and he'd get a meeting with Jane.
They shut out her face.
But not his feelings.