Shinonome Ena is a lonely artist. She sits on her tall wood stool, hunched forward like a tortoise. She faces a blank canvas that reached from the grainy wooden flooring to the white plaster ceiling. Ena tilted her head up to find the room blanketed in a silent black mist that wrapped around her form. There was only a single lightbulb illuminating the room, the one that hung right above the canvas. The light shone almost directly downward like a spotlight, lighting up the canvas but nothing else.
Ena frowned and grumbled, letting out an irritated sigh of defeat. In times like this, she wished that she had someone to turn to for advice, someone to lean on when the going gets tough. She turned to the one thing she was truly familiar with—art. Or at least, she hoped she was familiar with. “Might as well paint it all away, I suppose.”
In one hand Ena held her storied paintbrush, the victim of much abuse whenever Ena released her pent-up anger by hurling it across the room. On the other hand was her palette, dotted with countless coarse remnants of paints. Ena loved to joke to herself that if she stared into her palette long enough the colours would merge to form a spiral of colour, quite fitting given her current predicament.
But this childlike muse was interrupted when Ena gazed at her blank canvas again. Blank. She had all the tools of creation in hand and an empty world ready to be filled with life, yet her mind was blank. She clenched the brush, ready to throw it again. It was always like this, Ena had the path laid out in front of her but she never took the first step.
Perhaps because nobody ever gave her work a notice, perhaps it was because she had nobody to come up and hug her and whisper into her ear that everything was going to be ok. Either way, realisation served no help. Ena needed that special something, someone to give her comfort.
And that was when it hit her. Someone. It didn’t have to be a real person, right? Imaginary friends were a thing after all, and Ena had plenty.
The tiny but talented K was a girl with inhumanly long light grey hair that extended to the floor. She was a talented musician, yet praised Ena’s art. She was grateful for Ena’s existence in an almost self-aware way that Ena created her out of sheer desperation.
There was Yuki, an expressionless girl with purple hair and a chest that Ena wished she had. Ena used to despise her existence, wondering why she even created her in the first place. Eventually, she grew to accept Yuki through patience and tolerance, even appreciating her blunt but honest opinions whenever she decides in to whisper into Ena’s ear.
Finally, there was Amia. A pinkette that Ena couldn’t even begin to describe. Amia felt the most important to Ena, they were there whenever she needed a person to scream and rant and cry on about her miserable life. They would always sit next to Ena while she was painting, sometimes teasing her on certain things (much to Ena’s annoyance) yet their tone never felt derogatory. Other times, they’d speak passionately about how they loved Ena’s art. But the aspect of Amia that Ena loved the most was how they were always there, watching over her like a guardian angel.
Amia might not be with me now but… They can be.
Vigour now ran through Ena’s blood along with the sweet taste of determination on her lips. A small smirk was formed on her face, her eyebrows slanting downward as the inspiration finally hit her. “I got it now, I got it now!!!”
Ena let out a victorious cry, finally overcoming her creative dry spell. She grabbed her pencil from a small table next to the canvas, spinning it before raising it to the paper in front of her. Locking her forearm in place, Ena felt the jubilant anticipation fill her soul. “I can do this.”
The paintbrush flowed across the canvas like a calm river current. Whenever it ran out of paint, Ena would gently lift the brush and tap her palette for new paint, before returning to the paper. All her actions were done with surgical precision, each line from her pencil and stroke from her brush painstakingly yet passionately bringing Amia to reality.
Before she knew it, Ena lifted her paintbrush for the very last time, now feasting upon her eyes her creation. She stood up, moving her stool backwards so she had ample space to admire the beauty she had just created.
Ena’s eyes were drawn to the centrepiece first, the object of love that she sought for so long. Amia was dressed in a light beige floral dress with pure white flowers sprouting from the sleeves with a mossy green gradient rising from the hem. The dress had a part of its top cut off, allowing Amia’s shoulders to be visible. Their face was staring directly back at Ena, their expression covered by a bouquet of light grey, purple, and pink flowers while their eyes were unreadable. Amia held the bouquet with both hands in a sincere manner, their fingers intertwined as if they were slightly nervous. Finally, the cloudy green and brown background was subtle enough to make Amia stick out, courtesy of those expensive watercolours Ena bought.
“Haah… haah… You’re finally complete, Amia.” An exhausted Ena spoke as if Amia would answer back, though she expected no response. Instead, she took it all in. She admired her masterpiece, her fantasy turned into reality. For once in her life Ena felt accomplished, she felt like her life amounted to something. Perhaps she isn’t alone. After all, Amia’s here, right? Right?
Ena’s optimism quickly devolved into longing, and her short burst of happiness now decayed into depression. At the end of the day, Amia’s just a figment of her imagination. Just like Yuki and K. All of them, don’t exist and will never exist. Ena’s face morphed from elation to heartbreak. She made a mournful pace towards the Amia in the canvas, placing her left palm on their painted chest.
“I wish you were real.”
She went closer to them till their foreheads met, feeling the coarse surface of the paper. Ena held herself there for god knows how long, the sorrow she felt being the most real thing. It was raw, unending sorrow.
Ena faked a smile, moving further inwards and planting a small kiss on Amia’s forehead. She wished, oh how she wished she could kiss a real Amia. But that wish was just that. A fickle, unrealistic wish.
The next day, Ena woke up with her eyes nearly bloodshot, her mouth dry and thick dark bags under her eyes. She struggled to recall the events of last night, seeming as if it were all one odd dream. As Ena sipped cheap bitter coffee out of a hand-me-down mug, she offhandedly thought of her art room.
“Well… Since I can’t recall anything, might as well check it out.” With her voice still hoarse and her eyes still groggy, the half-awake Ena slowly made her way to her art room.
She pushed down on the doorknob and made her way in, an incessant creaking noise emitting from the hinges of the old door. Ena’s art room was much more visible while bathed in the morning sun. Its walls were decorated with art pieces she made over the past few years, likely enough to stock a small art gallery. But Ena would never let them go, no way in hell. After all, which art gallery would accept her shoddy work?
As her eyes scanned the room, Ena’s gaze caught the stool that she sat on. Next to that was the canvas she painted last night. Approaching the canvas, there were a few details Ena immediately took notice of. The first was the background colours, now dried up and saturated just a little bit. The next was a weird large patch of white in the middle of the painting, one huge chunk of it left blank. It was in the shape of a human.
Ena pondered whatever could this mean. Did she perhaps leave this section for tomorrow? No, it was cut out way too precisely. Then what was it? She thought back to what she was painting.
And then it hit her.
Amia was missing.
Ena couldn’t form any words. She first assumed that it was impossible. How can an art piece run away? Unfathomable, a product of childish imagination. Disbelief set in, as Ena frantically searched around her art room. Maybe this was just a sketch or doodle or prototype? Impossible, all impossible. She couldn’t find it, she couldn’t find them. Ena could not find Amia.
Disbelief was followed by panic, Ena began to hyperventilate as her hands shook and legs trembled. Her heartbeat felt wrong, offbeat, hollow. She felt her throat choke up, drier than hoarser than before.
Amia. Amia. Amia!
Ena wanted to scream out in pure anguish. Was the universe so cruel that it would take away what scraps of joy she had left? Why her, why Shinonome Ena of all people.
She opened her mouth, but instead of a wailing cry, all that Ena let out was an airy groan of acceptance. Ena is a lonely artist, who even the universe hates and chooses to torture. There was no such thing as happiness for her, and she knew that now.
Slowly, Ena leaned on the wall of her art room, sinking to the floor with an empty expression. She tucked her legs in so that she could rest her head on her knees. Balling up, Ena made a sarcastic, spiteful laugh. Truly, her wishes were just that, wishes.
Ena heard a voice.
A voice calling out.
A voice calling out her name.
The voice had a sweet, tender, and patient tone. It rode the winds like a feather into Ena’s ears, so sweet like honey. Not only that but it was a warm voice, just hearing a single word made Ena feel like she was being enveloped in a comforting cuddle. Even without looking, Ena could tell this voice came from a sincere person. She tilted her buried head upwards, her eyes trailing until she saw something she’d never thought she would in her lifetime.
Amia was there, right in front of Ena. They were leaning forward, their face bearing a reassuring smile. In their hands were a bouquet, light grey, purple, and pink, just like how Ena imagined. Amia’s appearance was picture-perfect to the Amia in the canvas.
Ena had no words, but her eyes told the entire story. They were shimmering with life, shaking in amazement. Her gaze was fixated on Amia and Amia only, right now Ena’s world was just them. She reached out with her right hand, placing her palm on top of Amia’s hands on the bouquet’s stalk.