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Thoughts On The Dawn After A Starry Night
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Thoughts On The Dawn After A Starry Night
A bad breakup, two days with no sleep and a 4 hour cram session for an art history exam went into this one.
[563 words]
Jeremy Lee Henderson
Jeremy Lee Henderson is over a quarter of a century old. He was born in South Korea, but speaks no Korean except for a handful of obscene phrases and the first verse of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
[April 2003]
[email protected]
Insomnia (Short Stories) Where do writers get their ideas? Sometimes it's best you don't ask... [597 words] [Horror]
The Day The Rain Stopped (Short Stories) A story about death and friendship. [802 words] [Drama]
Thoughts On The Dawn After A Starry Night
Jeremy Lee Henderson

    The clock in the room across the hall ticks just a little faster than my heartbeat. Every few seconds they catch up to each other, and for a few moments it seems as if they move as one, until gradually the sounds split apart, my heart falls behind, and they race in opposite directions, struggling to find each other again. From where I sit I can see out the window. Through heavy mist the early morning sunlight tinges the sky red and gold, like Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” shifted to the other end of the spectrum.

Vincent Van Gogh, tortured genius who, in a fit of mania, severed his ear and sent it to the woman he loved. A great story, except that like all truly great stories, it is a myth. The macabre romance of Van Gogh’s severed ear, gift-wrapped and sent in a gesture of pure, manic love to a woman he wanted more than anything else in the world, never happened. Vincent cut his ear when he slipped during a drunken brawl.

But the myth is so much better than the reality: Van Gogh in his shabby little studio, mad with grief, torn by the pain of unrequited love; the knife, lusterless gray metal, but sharp, very sharp, clutched in his trembling hand. He sits on the floor, amid a clutter of paints, torn canvases, shattered wine bottles. And perhaps, through the window in front of him, the light of dawn paints the sky in shades of fire and blood.

Imagine the woman, upon receiving the package, the thoughts that must have gone through her head when the messenger told her it was from Vincent. Does she sigh in exasperation, or laugh at the silly, desperate man who keeps sending her gifts? Or does she merely stare in silence, dreading this gift, without knowing why.

Does she fling the gift away in horror when she sees it, or faint, or sob hysterically? Perhaps she does none of these, merely becomes very quiet, very still. Something wells up inside of her. Is it fear? Pity? Maybe she feels all of these things, screaming through her in the moments after she opens the box, like a tempest of light in a starry night.

But love? Perhaps, for a moment, something…a tiny twinge, in that brief, endless second, when she sees deep into Vincent Van Gogh’s soul, sees him stripped of everything but the burning genius that drove him, and the madness that coiled around his heart like a skeletal hand.

Maybe for one moment she loved this sad artist, who simply painted what his fevered mind saw when he looked out at the night sky, and left us with an image so painfully beautiful that we stand stunned, unable to compose a single thought, afloat, for a few seconds, in the sea of fear and confusion in which he spent every moment of his life.

I would like to think that for a split second, as she stared down at his flesh and blood, she loved Vincent Van Gogh. But I know she didn’t, because it never happened.

Outside my window the morning sky is pale cloudless blue, nothing at all like the maelstrom of light and color Vincent saw when he painted his masterpiece.

I close my eyes, and try to listen to my own heartbeat, but I can’t hear it. The sounds of the day drown it out.



""Thoughts On The Dawn After A Starry Night" invokes the torrent of the masterpiece, adding a self-portrait to the colours therein. The opening and closing lines perfectly mirror the tortured struggle of the artist within the story and the spirit. Life doesn't stop for a broken heart." -- Loren Di Iorio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
"Beautiful & a very true analysis. Well done 'Jerry Lee Lewis'!" -- Harry, Northampton, United Kingdom.
"Outstanding piece of work!!!" -- Monte, USA.
"What begins as a heart-felt exploration of late night brooding turnings into an analysis of an artist's fabled art of love. It's interesting, and the idea is sound. I would like to see more detail, though. If it's to be a philosophical discussion about the nature of love, it should drop the intro. and have some kind of thesis. If it's to be fiction, it should tell how the box looked that the girl received, or what was the texture of the ear. Did she hold it up to the light? Could she see the shadow of her fingertips through it? That sort of thing. You have hit on some excellent scenes here, excellent ideas, with a little bit more imagination will really explode into something great. Good luck." -- Scott W. Hazzard, PB, NY.
"A competent, although not perfect, exploration of emotional details from a few levels of conditional reality away." -- tGaPDS.
"Wow! I liked this very much. Jeremy you are terrific. Thanks for sharing your talent." -- Miss Jackie, Milwaukee, Wi, USA.
"Another excellent piece ... Please give us more !!!" -- Judith Goff, USA.


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© 2001 Jeremy Lee Henderson
June 2001

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