As she stepped out of the painting on the wall and spoke to him, George wondered vaguely how much he had to drink as he stumbled back. Was this the muse that so many artists spoke of? Either way, George felt her hand on his cheek like a comforting touch that was familiar but… not. He unconsciously leaned into it and closed his eyes. Though he couldn’t see it, he felt her smile. It was warm and loving and… George wondered about his great-grandfather. Had he been privy to such affection?
“It is good to see you, Georges,” she whispered, putting a funny French spin on his name. He didn’t mind because her smile was audible in her words. George closed his eyes tighter and brought a hand up to keep hers where it was. “Not that I ever forgot you. You gave me so much.”
George opened his eyes, visibly confused. Though he didn’t know this woman - his great-grandmother - he felt that perhaps he had in a past life. But he couldn’t know what he had possibly given her, even in a past life.
“What did I give you?” He breathed. George turned his gaze to the ground. His hands fell to the ground and they were his but simultaneously not his.
“You taught me about concentration,” she said with a soft laugh. It was fond and she brought his gaze back to hers by tipping his chin up with her fingers. “At first, I thought that meant… Just being still, but I was to understand it meant much more. You meant to tell me to be where I was, not someplace in the past or future. I worried too much about tomorrow.”
George followed the silent instruction obediently. Every touch of this woman, this vision and muse, was tender and deliberate. She dropped her hand and kneeled in front of him, watching him with a kind and loving curiosity.
“What about you? Are you working on something new?” She prompted. George shook his head, breaking his silent stupor.
“No,” he choked out. George hung his head in shame. “I’m not working on anything new.”
“That is not like you, Georges,” she said. Her brow furrowed in a way that reminded him of his grandmother Marie. But there was that funny French spin on his name again. This woman, French in origin but an immigrant to America, never truly lost her French way of speaking. Or did she see someone else in George? His great-grandfather, perhaps? He opened his mouth to say something but…
“I have nothing to say,” he offered lamely. She shook her head and smiled.
“You have many things,” pointed out the vision. She was right, as all-knowing muses often were. George often did have many things to say but now he could not think of a single thing.
George’s mouth moved of its own accord. He knew this woman. Her name was… Dot. Knew her intimately, despite the fact that George himself had never known a woman intimately in his life.
“Nothing that’s not been said.” Dot smile sadly, like she knew this wasn’t her Georges. But she still pressed on.
“Said by you, though, Georges.” That French way of saying his name was becoming more and more familiar to his ears. He frantically buried his fingers in his hair.
“I don’t know where to go.” This was true, not just for George, but for Georges as well. George moved his hand up to Dot, who took it and gave it a tight squeeze. A ghostly echo of George’s arm followed and he realized that Dot wasn’t seeing just him, but his great-grandfather that she had loved so dearly.
“And nor did I,” she said with a sad smile. That sad smile that Georges had never really seen but was surprisingly familiar to George.
George pushed himself onto his knees, holding Dot’s face. He became passionate but doubtful of himself. Dot’s face said that she had seen this before and her smile said that she knew how to handle it.
“I want to make things that count… Things that will be new,” he said desperately. Dot gently removed herself from his hands and George fell slightly as he chased the contact.
“I did what I had to do,” she said. It wasn’t defensive. Simply matter of fact. Georges knew exactly what she was talking about. She moved on, moved to America with Louis. But how did that help George? What was he to do?
“Move on,” she encouraged gently as if she had read his thoughts. “Stop worrying about where you’re going and move on.” She moved closer. “If you can know where you’re going, you’ve gone. Just keep moving on.”
Dot held out her hand for him to take. George took her hand readily. Georges may have been a ghostly echo, but he was the reason that their hands fit together perfectly.
“I chose and my world was shaken. So what?” There was something about her, something that George wished he could find in his life. Something that Georges could see and wanted to try and capture on paper. Something so careless and effortless. Beautiful. She continued. “The choice may have been a mistake, but the choosing was not. You have to move on.”
Dot had been facing away from George, all dressed up in her outfit from the painting. They were walking around the museum slowly. But as she spoke, she whipped around with surprising agility for someone who had a bustle and a corset on. George couldn’t help but startle slightly.
“Look at what you want. Not at where you are, not at what you’ll be,” she said firmly, holding onto his hands so tightly that he almost missed her next words. “Look at all the things you did for me. You opened up my eyes, taught me how to see, notice every tree...”
George blinked slowly. Dot pointed outside, where the streetlights outside shone on the trees. Where dew rested on the leaves and caught the starlight and created a billion tiny little galaxies in those dewdrops.
“Notice every tree,” he repeated softly. Amazement took hold of him and he slowly let Dot’s hand drop from his. Georges let go slower, reluctant to let his love leave him so quickly. He went to the window and stared outside. The world suddenly looked so different. Magical. Colorful.
“Understand the light,” Dot whispered, appearing by his side. George didn’t even startle. She took his hand again and leaned against his side. “Concentrate on now.”
“Understand the light,” he said, seeing streetlight and starlight for what felt like the first time in his life. His excitement grew like a child seeing a rainbow for the first time and George had a ray of inspiration shine on him. “I want… I want to move on, to understand the light. I want to know how to get through to something new… something of my own.”
Desperate for answers that were just out of reach, he turned to Dot again. She smiled and shook her head. George knew what that meant, instinctively. Georges always made things needlessly complicated.
“Move on,” she said simply. Her hand came to rest on George’s cheek again and he leaned into it again. “Stop worrying if your vision is new. Others will make that decision, as they usually do. You keep moving on.”
She gently guided his face so he was looking outside. The world still held that magic that she had introduced to him. The moon looked so different and held so many colors. The darkness wasn’t just one color; it was so many different shades of blue and black and green. The grass was even different shades. The trees, too, held different shapes and colors. George turned his gaze back to her and Georges saw her flower and how it complimented her smile.
“Look at all the things you gave to me, so let me give you something in return,” she said quietly. Dot could feel the heat in Georges’ gaze and ran her thumb over his cheek. “I would be so pleased…”
There was the color of her hair, the way it seemed to glow in the dim light. How George could see things now, thanks to this muse that he didn’t even know. But Georges knew her. The way she glowed in the dim light. Move on. Those words echoed deep in his soul. George felt a hole fill and Georges raised his hand to take Dot’s.
The two of them stood close together, wrapped in their own world.
“We’ve always belonged together,” Dot whispered. Georges smiled and they turned back to George, who watched his great-grandparents with awe. Dot stepped forward and pressed a kiss to her great-grandson’s forehead.
“Just keep moving on,” she murmured, resting her forehead against his. “Anything you do, let it come from you, then it will be new.”
She and Georges walked back towards the painting: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte . They stepped up into the frame, ready to melt back into the painting and their lives on canvas.
George stepped forward with a hand outstretched, wanting to say something. Anything. Dot hesitated, seeing her lover in her descendant and wanting to say just one more thing. Georges silently encouraged her. She lifted her skirt and stepped down the invisible stairs.
“Give us more to see.” Dot pressed one last kiss to her grandson’s forehead before following her lover back to the canvas and melting back into nothing but tiny dots.
George stared at the painting, seeing the little slice of that world in a new light. He was seeing his entire world in a new light. He had to create something.