Happiness Hangover

It was an expected average Thursday of refining another memorial portrait. Either the family lost their photos in a natural disaster, or would like a colored version of the monochrome portrait. I've been painting realistic replicas for 48 years now -- and I'd say that no person would be able tell the difference between my painting and a color film. They call me the Undead da Vinci, and to be honest, I think it's a fitting description of my caliber as well as my job scope.

Well, that early morning after my cup of coffee, I brought up my task list. Next to tackle was Astera Colette. No photo, just the body in a casket. An young florist in east Belgium, no known family. I studied her facial features. Easy enough -- beautiful, smooth skin, symmetrical. I performed the usual - sketching the outlines, painting the undertones before layering on highlights and the defined membrane of the skin. It took me the average 5 hours, and by now the sun was at its high. Time for my late lunch. I stretched and headed over to the kitchen upstairs to prepare a chicken avocado sandwich and leftover tomato soup.

It's usually advised to leave a piece of work for a day to come back with fresh eyes. Well, I strolled back to the workshop downstairs and looked over at the casket. The sunlight reflected oddly against Astera's skin. I couldn't ascertain if they were colors, reflections, or fumes. Her lips seemingly formed a peaceful and joyful smile. I was drawn into feelings, scents, and memories that were definitely not my own. I shook my head and blinked hard to clear my vision. Looking around the room, the colors greyed in front of my eyes. The painting looked antiquated- old, colors worn, luminescence sucked dry and lifeless.

The portrait looked abysmal! I'm certain the paints and my skills were just as good as any other day. I went back to Astera, and was hit with a shock as if someone applied a defibrillator. Life and love came from within, and tears automatically formed in my eyes.

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