With his alchemic skills, he had managed to recreate every store and every house in the small town by mid-afternoon the next day–all but one.
He stopped on the sidewalk in front of where his house used to be. There are no bone fragments in the rubble, no white dust coating the burnt wood. His family must have been away from home when they were murdered.
He kneels in front of the pile, resting his weak, blackened hands on his thighs. The tears from the night before returned full force. They stream down his face in jagged lines, cutting through the thin layer of dirt that coats his cheeks.
The wind disturbs the small fragments of charred wood. A few of them blow off the property, rolling down the cracked road to his left.
Loud sobs escape from his chapped lips as convulsive shivers run down his spine. His throat and chest tighten, obstructing the pathway of the few breaths he manages to take.
His sister’s face appeared in his mind, bright and unharmed. She was smiling, like she usually was. She was happy.
She was innocent.
She’d had nothing to do with this war. She was the sweetest person one could ever hope to me, and now she was gone; just like that. She disappeared before he could even say goodbye.
“I’m sorry.” he whispered to the burnt wood and the charred scraps of fabric. “I should have been there; I should have been with you.”
As he stared at the black mess before him, he wished he were a part of it.
The tears slowed then stopped, leaving their imprint on his face. His nose was stuffed to the brim yet dripping at the same time. Saliva felt thick in his mouth. His eyes burned with a fire that could not be extinguished.
He stood on sore, burning legs, wiping his face on his sleeve. He caught a glimpse of his hand. The entire thing had turned black. The obsidian tendrils climbed up his arm, disappearing into the crook of his elbow. The skin on the other side of his wrist was darkening.
He was in the final stage. He didn’t have much longer now.
Letting his hand drop to his side, he turned his back on the house. He knew he had to rebuild it, but he couldn’t bear to now. He would leave it for last.
“Four days.” Eoin whispered before walking away.
He walked in silence until he reached the park, stopping where he had left the large black suitcase. He knelt down and undid the two clasps, lifting the heavy top section to reveal a spacious inside.
Stuffed wall to wall were large paint tubes of every color imaginable. He had bought them immediately after his appointment at the hospital, buying every tube he could find in all six art stores. He had promised Elyza a rainbow and it would be the best rainbow she had ever seen. She deserved at least that.
Now they sat untouched within the confines of a plastic case with a metal zipper. The three paintbrushes he had purchased sat on top of the tubes, wedges in the ridges.
He picked up the largest paintbrush and held it between his shaking fingers. The brush was nearly two inches wide with thick bristles.
Next he pulled out each of the paint tubes, lining them up on the sidewalk by color. They made up the rainbow, starting with various shades of red and ending with seven different shades of violet. He stared at them for a long moment, twirling the wooden brush between his fingers. It slipped, hitting the ground with a hollow thud. He stared at that with blank, emotionless eyes too, for a moment.
He squatted down in front of the lineup, reaching for the brush with his left hand while picking a color with his right. “Bright crimson” the tube read. It was a little lighter than the color of blood, yet darker than his hair.
He cast an enchantment on the paint tool before squeezing a bit of the paint onto the tip of the brush. The color instantly spread all the way to the heel of the bristles, turning it bright red. He closed the tube and set it down.
Time to get to work.
With long, quick strides, he walked to the largest structure in the park. The entire thing had been left white, a blank canvas.
Holding his brush in his right hand, he let it hover a centimeter above the largest slide. he began making shapes with the brush, first a circle, then a square, and finally a triangle. At the end of the triangle, he touched the toe of the bristles to the white slide.
The color changed instantaneously, covering the entire slide, up until where the plastic met metal, in a vibrant crimson.
He repeated this process for most of the structure, creating the shapes as a silent form of a spell and painting whole sections a single color. He kept most of the colors the same as they had been before the bombs were dropped, with the exception of the roof.
He climbed up with a pocket full of paint tubes. His blackened legs could barely grip the wide pillar. He held his brush in his mouth, biting down hard on the tough wood.
He reached the top in a few long, agonizing seconds, and created small footholds with a muffled spell and a quick tap of his foot against the pillar. He then made a short platform, where he relaxed as he sat down.
Tentatively releasing his grip on the pillar, he brought his right hand to his mouth and took the brush. A dull ache throbbed through his teeth, but he ignored it.
Holding the brush in his right hand, he used the thumb and index finger of his left to flick it. The color instantly vanished, leaving the brush looking like new–with the exception of bite marks in the handle.
He reached into the wide pocket of his jacket and pulled out the violet tube and, unscrewing the cap with his mouth, squeezed out a miniscule droplet that colored all the bristles. He screwed the tube shut before placing in back into the pocket of his green military-style jacket.
The roof stood at eye level, ending about two feet above his head. With jittery hands, he placed the brush on the edge and cast the very first stroke. Despite his unstable fingers, the stroke remained straight and even, taking up the first six inches of the three and a half foot roof. It ran from one corner to the other. The deep violet paint glimmered in the hot sun.
The color above the violet was a beautiful indigo, followed by blue, green, yellow, orange, and finally red at the very peak. He duplicated this for all four sides of the pyramidal roof with a few whispered words.
He then dismissed the platform and the footholds and slowly let himself slide down the pillar until his feet touched the soft, sandy ground below. A few steps back allowed him to see the entire structure and all its splendid colors. They shone in the golden sunlight.
He imagined Elyza’s face lighting up at the rainbow roof and turned away, banishing the vision from his mind. It was too painful to think of her being happy when he knew she never would be again.
He turned away from the park, stepping over the small concrete ledge and back to the suitcase, which still sat open.
He gazed down into it, taking in all the colors Elyza would have loved. He could almost imagine her kneeling in front of the suitcase, her jaw hanging slack as she rifled through the countless tubes, exclaiming “Wow Eoin!” every time she saw a unique shade of green or blue.
Tears hit the dusty concrete next to the steel zipper. The warm drops escaped his tired eyes like a waterfall, crashing on the sharp rocks below.
He glanced at his black arms and legs, then up at the setting sun. He felt a little calmer knowing he didn’t have much longer. He would join her soon. “Only three days now.” he whispered, more to himself than to her. “Only three more days.”
He lay on the ground beside the suitcase, resting his head on his outstretched arm, and fell asleep.