copyright by Becky Bristow Voyles 2008
There I was in my Art 303 class, totally absorbed in my current acrylic painting of birds and a raven, when unexpectedly the lights went out. It was pitch black darkness so thick I couldn't see a thing in front of me. I did not dare reach out to see if I could see my hand for fear of knocking over my still wet creation on my easel and ruining it. I kept my paintbrush to my side like a weapon. Death by paintbrush? Just as suddenly as the lights went off, there was a bright white flash of light that nearly blinded me. I put my free left hand up to cover my eyes until they could re-adjust to the brightness.
Once I could open my eyes, I realized I was no longer in my art class, but I was standing on an unknown cobbledstoned street. I am looking upward at a very ancient cathedral type of church. Somehow I know the name of this place. It is the Sistine Chapel, but how did I get here? The robed people that are passing by me are staring at me like I have grown an extra body part. I glance down at myself. I am still wearing the same clothing I put on this morning. I have on my favorite worn out jeans with a purple patch above the knee and a rip below it with a white t-shirt splattered with different colored paints, but mostly a dark crimson which must look like blood to these starers. So I am a messy artist. The paint is literally in my blood as well as on me.
I felt a strong compulsion to enter this religious building I'd always wanted to visit. My friend Darryl and I were just e-mailing each other about our "Bucket Lists". This one was on my list. As I entered, I was in total awe with my mouth hanging open, but no words coming out of it which was a first for me. I was surprised I was not drooling. I look into a huge open room, up on the scaffolding, I see a major artistic miracle... Leonardo Da Vinci is on the left side of the room painting, Michelangelo is in the middle and Picasso is on the right. Michelangelo is drawing and outline while Picasso is working on an abstract. They are laughing and telling jokes. Michelangelo is trying to figure out one of Da Vinci's codes as Leonardo almost falls off the scaffolding with hearty laughter. I smile and shake my head. I turn out of habit to ask my best friend Penny,"Are you believing this?" That is what I always said to her when we did something that felt like a dream. But she is not there. I must have hit my head and I am dreaming, I think to myself. My movement must have caught their attention because they stop, look at me, smile in fond recognition and greet me at all at once.
"Bella! At last you have finally arrived. We have been waiting forever for you. We were beginning to think you would never get here." Leoonardo says in his native language of Italian yet I can understand every word. Now I do not speak Italian. Well, except for pasta, spaghetti, lasagne, etc.
"Who me?" I squeak like a church mouse. I look behind me to see if they are talking to someone else standing there, but there is no one inside the Chapel, but the three of them and myself.
Michelangelo carefully climbs down from the scaffolding to greet me warmly as if he has known me forever. He hugs me tightly. How could he know me? Yet I feel as if I know him and not just because of his masterpieces. I just got hugged by Leonardo Da Vinci!
"We have your robes waiting for you... You remember where to change in the vestibule?" Leonardo asks me.
A normal person would be asking, "Robes? What robes?" Instead I automatically shook my head up and down that I do know. On a side table, I see a pink piece of cloth. The texture feels familiar to my touch, as if I had held it, felt it, and worn it before. As if I am in a trance, I pick it up and carry it down the long hallway to another room that is equally familiar to me. Once inside this smaller room, I close the door. I am quite comfortable disrobing and wrapping the material around me as if I have done it for centuries. It falls into place naturally. I know how to wrap it around myself so nothing is exposed. Once robed, I am walking barefoot and calmly as if this was an every day experience. The floor is cool beneath my feet, but it is uneven. Just as I walk back into the huge room where the three masters are waiting, I trip, fall, and hit my head.
I heard them chorus, "Not again!"
When I finally came back to consciousness, I am back in my art class. All my fellow students including my professor are standing over me. "Are you okay?" My professor asks with concern in his voice.
"Where are they?" I ask.
"Who are they?" My professor asks me with brows drawn together in deep concern. It reminded me of the look the robed people on the street gave me earlier.
"Michelangelo, Leonardo and Picasso, of course." I say as if he should know what I meant. The look in everyone's eyes makes me regret saying those words.
"Well, I guess I am not in Kansas anymore." They all laugh with relief because they know if I can crack a joke, I must be okay. They help me up to stand and we all went back to our canvases. Only my painting was not of the birds and the raven I began earlier. It was a single mauve colored cloth exactly like the robe I'd just donned mere moments ago. At the bottom were three sets of initials and none of them were mine!