“Shut up,” Ben told a voice inside him. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
The inner voice, not sounding like Ben’s deep bass but rather a high baritone, responded, “You have to create Ben, it’s your calling. It doesn’t make sense for you to avoid it anymore.”
Ben clenched his jaw. He hit the power button on his stereo, turned the volume up as loud as it would go, and then he returned to bed. He counted splotches on the drywall and tried to make shapes with them as one would with clouds. A bear. Lots of clouds. Africa. An easel. Finally he couldn’t hear the voice anymore. He sung along with the music in his head.
Something was creeping into Ben, though. The obscure something caused him to turn the volume down, despite not wanting to do so. The voice began again, “You are an artist Ben. Your past has nothing to do with your art. How do you think Van Gogh became so great?”
“Van Gogh was crazy and cut off his own ear.”
“Crazy? Do you know why he cut off his own ear? He wanted to share me with someone he loved. He cut his own ear off hoping that the woman he loved could hear the voice that inspired him to paint.”
“Whatever. Look, I’m not going to draw anymore. It hurts me. It reminds me of Dad.” He moved to the desk anyway. The desk had accumulated a layer of dust. Just beyond the walls of the room an owl hooted, but otherwise the outside world was still. Ben shuffled around his desk looking for pens and paper, and all the rattling filled the music-less air. It all reminded him of when he used to draw.
“I can make you do it Ben. I’d rather you do it for yourself, but I can make you.” Ben’s hand moved meditatively across the blank page. He fought back tears, wishing it would stop. He was thinking of his father, a painter who wasted his life painting with no recognition. Ben’s dad died from an aggressive cancer.
Ben heard the pencil etch into the paper, a light scraping sound that, with enough of them, would form something miraculous. With each succeeding scratch Ben’s thoughts drew away from his dad, the tears retreated into their ducts, and the art began to absorb. He was drawing of his own accord.
“I’m sorry I doubted you,” Ben said to the inner voice.