A Short Story – “Start of Something New”
We hope you enjoy this short story. Inspired and written by Macy Brown. Macy is a student at the University of Georgia and was one of our 2018 John Feight Hospital Art Interns.
“You may never regain full ability in your hands . . .”
Words that Sarah never thought she would hear. She was 16 years old and a promising young artist, who dreamed of going off to a prestigious art school after she graduated from high school. All of those dreams changed after she got into a severe car accident. Her mom worked hard and long hours to buy her that car for her sixteenth birthday, but that didn’t stop the drunk driver from hitting her while she was on her way home from an art exhibit at the Community Center. She had won a contest and they wanted to showcase some of her work. She chose her most prized possession: a painting of her dream-horse Butterscotch. A beautiful yellowish-brown fur coat that would be repulsing to others, but underneath a beautiful, long, black mane, Butterscotch was quite the sight.
Her doctor’s words made Sarah feel empty and broken. All those dreams of going off to school, studying the greatest artists, and learning all the techniques to improve were gone. Everything that she was working towards felt worthless now that she may never get to experience everything that she wanted. “But there are plenty of programs that we can try to help you regain full functionality of your fingers” he said. “There are many support groups for people that are going through this same situation,” was the reply when my mom asked about the possibility of depression. Programs. Support groups. A 16 year old shouldn’t have to know what this feels like, especially when they have their whole lives ahead of them.
Sarah asked if she could get out of bed and take a walk through the hospital to clear her head. Even though she may never paint again, at least she had the ability to stand up and use her two legs, right? Although her mother insisted on accompanying her, she asked to be alone just to try to wrap her head around what her next steps would be moving forward from the accident. She had two years left of high school. She was supposed to be visiting Columbia University next spring – her dream school. Only an hour from home, close to her mom, and she would be studying her passion. What now?
Sarah rounded the corner of the hallway and ran into two twin girls hanging a mural that consisted of six paintings – a beautiful portrait of fawns. She stopped and studied the painting. It was something that she had never quite seen before, and somehow it made her feel a little hopeful about her situation. One of the girls turned around to Sarah and smiled, “Do you like it?” she asked. Sarah loved it so much that tears came to her eyes as she thought that maybe she would never be able to paint something like this or anything at all. The other girl noticed Sarah’s tears and her cast-covered arms and immediately said, “Hey don’t cry! These paintings are supposed to bring joy, not sadness! Come on, come with us!”
Sarah followed them into a room filled with patients, paint, brushes, and blank canvases. Everyone from all over the hospital, no matter the condition of their health, filled the room with smiles and laughter. Sarah stopped and asked, “What is this?” One of the girls looked at her and said, “A place full of possibilities. No matter what life has thrown at you, this is the place where you come and forget about your situation and choose to ‘love through a paintbrush!’ I’m Ashley and this is my sister Ally. Our grandfather started this organization called the Foundation for Hospital Art. The goal is to bring happiness into a place that is filled with such sadness. Come on, come paint with us!”
Ashley led Sarah over to a table with two other young girls. One had a broken leg and the other was a cancer patient. “I don’t think I can paint though,” Sarah said and slowly held up her arms. “Painting is my favorite thing in the whole world, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to paint again.”
“Nonsense!” Ashley replied, “this is where anything is possible. YOU just have to believe that.” She helped Sarah pick out some paint and opened the bottles and brushes for her. She found some tape and helped maneuver the brush into Sarah’s hand and taped it to the cast, so she wouldn’t drop it easily. Before Sarah knew it, she was painting a bird. A beautiful blue and green bird.
“That is beautiful!” Sarah turned around and there was Ally. “This is our dad, Steven. He helped organize this event.”
Sarah smiled and said “Thank you, sir. My name is Sarah and I was recently in a car accident and was told that I may never paint again. It is my dream to become a famous artist one day and this makes me feel like maybe that dream won’t be taken away from me.”
Steven smiled, “This is why we do this, girls,” talking to his daughters, “because someone somewhere needs the encouragement to never give up on something they truly want to do.” He looked at Sarah, “do you mind if we paint with you?”
Sarah smiled, “I would love that!”
Little did Sarah know that this would be the start of a new journey. A journey filled with overcoming struggles, new friendships with Ashley and Ally, and a renewing of a passion she thought she would lose for good.