Life’s Little Triumphs—Relm Arrowny
a mini-series by Dot
Relm put her brush down and sighed. After finishing the painting Owser had commissioned as promised, she had yet to produce another work that she was satisfied with. Not only did her pictures seem lifeless, Relm also often found herself staring at a blank canvas, unable to find her inspiration to paint.
Before, painting was like breathing. When she wasn’t sitting before a canvas, she would go outside with her sketchbook and fill it with drawings of whatever caught her eye. Pretty soon, everyone in Thamasa knew of the precocious little art genius. Some even said that her paintings of animals looked so dynamic that they could jump right off the canvas.
But now, no matter how hard Relm tried, she just didn’t feel like drawing anymore. And the more she tried to draw, the worse she felt—and then the worse she felt, the less inclined she felt to draw. At times, she became irritable and angry, her internal turmoil causing her to lash out at the unfortunate victims who happened to cross her way. Other times, she fell into a deep depression, shutting herself into her room and refusing to let anyone in.
“Relm, please,” Strago begged from outside of the door.
Relm gripped her tube of paint so hard it almost burst open. “Go away.”
Today had been one of those days. Compounding her sour mood was the little sleep she had the night before and the even less food she ate. Not an appropriate way to spend her twelfth birthday, but Relm didn’t care. The entire world could have ceased to exist and that would have been just fine with her.
“Melinda made you chocolate cake,” Strago cooed.
Relm’s determination wavered. Chocolate was always her weakness, but it seemed to entice her even more so than before, and days when she felt so down she needed it more than ever.
“It’s still warm,” Strago continued, his voice rising and falling like a baited hook. “And it smells so tasty. It would be such a terrible waste of—”
Her hunger overtaking her stubbornness, Relm burst out of the room, almost knocking Strago down, and half flew, half fell the long flight of stairs.
“That sure worked well,” Strago observed, picking himself off the ground and heading after his granddaughter.
– Relm –
Her stomach filled and in a somewhat better mood, Relm decided to take a walk, hoping that she could find something that would bring back her desire to paint. Pulling on a jacket, she made for the hills, sketchbook in hand. Relm walked until Thamasa was well behind her, settling on a hill that gave her a good view of the ocean. Flipping open her sketchbook, Relm began to doodle, not really drawing anything in particular, but rather letting her mind drift. She soon sketched out a small, solitary figure in the distance, back turned as if walking away, his dark clothes fluttering in the wind, a large black dog at his heels.
Shadow, the mysterious man who disappeared when they were escaping from Kefka’s tower. Strago, ever the cynic, had warned Relm not to hold any kind of hope. But Relm knew somehow that Shadow and Interceptor were alive somewhere, and clung to the dream that some day she’d see both of them again.
In another corner of the same page, Relm found herself drawing Shadow’s face, the mask covering his features falling away, to reveal—what? No one had ever gotten a glimpse of the man beneath the cold, detached assassin who seemed to only care for money. But if that were true, then why had Shadow saved her life when she was trapped in that burning building?
Her pencil was almost moving on its own by now, as if guided by some invisible hand.
Intense, dark eyes that shined with hidden warmth, a head of sandy hair, a 5-o’clock shadow that prickled when he rubbed his chin across hers—
Trembling, Relm forced herself to stop and put the picture down, because the tears that were threatening to escape her eyes would spot the paper.
“Daddy,” she whispered, tracing her hand across the picture. All of her other memories were vague impressions, but she made sure that she would always remember what he looked like. When she had met Shadow for the first time and saw those lifeless orbs peer out from beneath that hood, it had struck a deep sense of familiarity within her that she didn’t dare think about. But time and time again she caught herself wondering if it could be possible, even if the chances were so tiny that it wouldn’t be worth mentioning.
The clouds parted, letting in the lukewarm rays of the sun. Mr. Helios did not yet seem aware that it was already supposed to be Spring, and was still shining in a rather unenthusiastic manner. Being outside in this sort of weather left one feeling a bit cheated and wanting to demand a full refund. Relm, more cold than anything else, drew her cape over her shoulders and stared out into the breaking waves to try to collect herself.
– Relm –
The sun was slipping into the sea when Relm decided to go back home. Low clouds obscured the otherwise magnificent view, making Thamasa’s artificial lights stand out all the more in the darkness.
It’s all so beautiful, Relm thought, pausing to take in the view. Moving by well-practiced instinct, Relm pulled out her sketchbook, flipped to a new page and penciled in a quick sketch. The unfortunate writing utensil was worn down to the nib, but it still could not reflect what Relm saw. Maybe as a watercolor—
Seized by a sudden burst of energy, Relm tucked her pencil behind her ear and broke into a run, the view of Thamasa planted in her mind.
– Relm –
Relm stepped back from the canvas, exhausted but satisfied. While the technical points of the painting were a bit weak due to her lack of practice, the whole effect of the picture had managed to capture that moment.
And yet painting seemed to be incomplete. Stepping back, Relm took another look at it and realized that the lower right hand corner needed something to balance the composition. But what could she add?
A solitary figure clad all in black clothes, a large dog following close behind, the two walking towards the dim light in the horizon—
Swishing her brush in the cloudy water, Relm picked the appropriate colors and began to add the details.
Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
In a moment of art imitating life (or maybe the other way around), this was inspired by my own struggles with writer’s block.