A Novel by Mira Steffan
Her tan from the vacation and the feeling of relaxation had quickly faded. When Charlotte looked in retrospect at the last six weeks, she realized that on four weekends they had spent time as a threesome, namely at the movies, shopping and eating ice cream, at the history museum, at a large aquarium, and going for a walk. On the other two weekends, Justus had worked, and Charlotte had gone with Emma to visit her father. Justus and Charlotte made an effort to do a lot together. Even though it was a constant juggling act that often stressed Charlotte out. But for their relationship, their soul life and their little family, it was just right. Charlotte felt happy all around with Justus and Emma. Her daily mirror therapy certainly played a part in this. It gave her a good feeling and security every day anew. Her work, however, still aroused ambivalent feelings in her. It was fulfilling to be challenged again. But she did not like the anti-family and anti-women work climate. And painting and the pursuit of art had fallen by the wayside. This was her heart’s desire. She looked into her garden. The leaves were beginning to change color, the harbingers of autumn. Not long now and the winter semester would begin. She shook her head. How had she come up with this? The student days were a lifetime ago. But all at once she realized what her subconscious was trying to tell her. Not only was the university semester starting again, but adult education classes were beginning. Determined, she booted up her computer and clicked on the new program. There were plenty of painting and drawing courses. Without further ado, she signed up for a course that took place eight times in a row, always on Saturdays. But then she paused, startled. Was this the right decision for her family? But when she talked to Justus about it later, he talked her into taking the class.
“Eight Saturdays without you, we’ll be fine. If Karl has time, maybe Emma and I can do something with him.”
“You really don’t mind?”
“No, try it. I think it’s important for you. And I promised to support you.”
“You’re such a sweetheart,” Charlotte hugged Justus so fiercely that they went down together.
They wrestled with each other, and Justus tickled her. As he did so, he rolled on top of Charlotte laughing, looked deep into her eyes, and began to kiss her passionately. The world around them became indistinct and then disappeared altogether.
She just couldn’t get the line right. Charlotte threw the pen to the side in frustration. It would never work that way. Straight lines just weren’t her thing.
“Practice makes perfection. I know that’s a platitude. But I’m afraid I can’t think of a better pep talk, because it’s the truth,” the drawing teacher said with a smile when he saw Charlotte’s frustrated expression, “The best thing to do now for practice is to make 40 straight lines exclusively. And do that every day,” adding explanatorily, “round lines are easier because those are natural movements.”
Charlotte pulled herself together and followed the request. After a brief pause, they continued with the hatching.
Conscientiously, Charlotte followed her drawing teacher’s advice. Whether at conferences, at her desk in the office, or at home – Charlotte practiced and practiced drawing straight lines and tried her hand at simple motifs. But she was not satisfied. Her cups or apples didn’t look like the originals. Somehow crooked and always a bit crooked. Her teacher thought she was expecting too much for a start. Sure, most of the students didn’t draw any better, except for one. Julia, 17, a high school student with big, soulful eyes and short blond hair that she always wore artfully tousled. Effortlessly, her pen slid across the paper. She set it down and the object seemed to literally flow from her hand. Her drawings looked like black and white photographs. Charlotte was amazed at her talent.
“Do you know what you want to do after school yet?”, Charlotte asked her as they sat next to each other one Saturday, tracing a fork that was in front of them. Or rather, Charlotte tried, while Julia created a perfect likeness.
“I would like to study fine arts in Berlin and then work as an artist,” Julia said seriously.
Charlotte nodded admiringly, “You definitely have talent. I’m very impressed with your skills.”
“Thank you,” Julia said, blushing with delight. As she continued to draw the background stroke by stroke, she talked on, “I love to paint. I always have. It’s my passion and calling. I want to live and work as an artist later. But before that, I want to learn the craft and the rules. And use the results to fill out my application portfolio.”
Charlotte became thoughtful. In art class at school, she had always enjoyed experimenting with colors and being creative. However, she had to admit to herself that she had never been as passionate about it as Julia. Would she have studied business administration otherwise? Why hadn’t she applied to an art school? Would her parents have forbidden it? Probably not, if she had really wanted to. Nevertheless, the fine arts had always fascinated her, as far back as she could remember. Sighing, she reached for her pencil.