42 Maple Contemporary Art Center invited area schools to participate in the unique writing challenge offered with Craig Pursley’s body of work, “Pieces of Dreams”, featured art for the month of January 2015.
Lori Innes, English teacher from Profile School accepted the challenge, and brought her AP Languange and Composition class to the gallery to study Craig’s art, choose a painting, and write a story or poem in 500 words or less. Also in attendance, was Littleton Courier editor Darrin Wipperman. The exercise was featured in a local newspaper. Please check out our Press page to read more about the experience.
Below is one of the many stories generated by Profile high school students as a result of this experience.
A Field of Cellos
It wasn’t so much a dream as an escape from reality. And so, there he stood, alone, with a cake, in a field of cellos.
Had he made it back from the war, he would’ve resumed his studies at the music conservatory. Bad things happen at war; scarring, life changing events that one can’t – indeed one mustn’t – forget. He had lost his friends, his leaders, his role models, and at the end of it all, he lost his mind.
“Shell shock” they called it. He couldn’t make out if it meant the soldiers shocked from the explosion of shells, whether the soldiers were shocked from their return to society, or a combination of them all. His return to society had been particularly ungraceful.
For a while he functioned as one would expect – much as a cog in a machine. Yet, as a cog made of rotten steel, he began to show signs of wear. First, he couldn’t sleep. Then he couldn’t eat, and then he couldn’t speak. They thought it was a phase, nothing more than a flu. But he knew it was because of the war, and the terrible, terrible things that happened.
And so, they sat him in a corner. Isolated, alone, he wouldn’t communicate – they wouldn’t understand. Over time, he made progress on his own condition. He even came to terms with the loss of so much. But he never found his mind.
In the midst of reconciliation, he came to confront the purpose of the war. Through it all, he could only figure the true heroes to be those who never laid foot on the foreign soil. That is they – who refused to kill – were the ones who truly won the battle.
His efforts had not been futile, indeed, the heroes had given him all the honor of the war. But there was no glory in his work, there was nothing in what he did. It was them – the heroes – that did the real work. It was them who fought with a purpose, not as the soldiers, who fought only to kill.
It was his birthday. The day was still lonely and silent. His family sat mutedly around a table, with a grand cake in front of him. Together they ate without words, they had lost hope of hearing his voice long ago. He was, however, in the least mute of worlds. He was there, in the field of cellos, as he now called it. There he could be cope with his emotion. There he could learn to live again.
And so, albeit in his imagination, he stepped out of the chair that trapped him for so long. It was time to live again, even if only in a delusion.