Below are a collection of Cecilie’s short stories & essays. Some essays have a direct relation with paired artwork.

Take A Walk With Me

I

      I’ve always felt a deep connection to nature, which seems to continually be my focus when I take walks. With every plant that captures my attention I find myself reminiscing on a memory. Flowers, plants, and trees constantly do that to me. They remind me of past experiences that I linger over, churning back and forth until the next plant has stolen the memory and replaces it with a new one.

      I run my right hand along the tops of bushes and across the surfaces of leaves that are friendly intruders on my path, a habit I’ve maintained since a small child. I long to know how every leaf feels and to enjoy the silky texture of each flower petal I see. I only touch the leaves though, never the flower petals. For I remember my mom explaining to me that touching the petals bruises the flower, so I refrain from the temptation. I always feel a little weepy when I’m reminded of my mother from a flower. I’m not sure why. I think it’s because I know someday the flower will be gone and so will she. 

     Unfortunately there are not as many clouds left in the sky as there were early this morning. I miss those fleeting gloomy grey puffs that somehow make me feel safe and secure, unlike the harsh sunlight that beats down. Luckily there is a soft breeze flowing through the tree leaves above me that similarly sound like the rain stick that I received on my sixth birthday. I dreamt about that rain stick for months and I still love turning it over listening to the artificial sound of rain.

     Passing a Magnolia tree I recall the one that was in my childhood best friend Taylors front yard that we used to climb everyday after school. We made decorations for the tree out of pink and red construction paper with words written on top in glue and covered in glitter. We carved hearts across the branches not knowing we were hurting our beloved friend. I cried the day her mother Julie cut our tree down, claiming the roots were destroying pipes beneath their house. I didn’t buy it though. Julie never did like me, but who could blame her after I ate cheese crackers over her new freshly installed hardwood floors, proceeding to get loads of crumbs in the deep cracks that lay between each floorboard. We had a little funeral for our tree placing handwritten notes with white and yellow flowers on the stump. Julie is gone now, just like our Magnolia tree. I never did go to Julie’s funeral, which I still feel mildly bad about.  

     The orange flowers move easily and effortlessly from the wind. The same orange flowers that grew outside the elderly ladies house that was directly behind mine when I was nine. Our backyards were separated by a brown wooden fence that I used to hop over to sneak into her backyard, where I would try and coax out the kittens that had been born under her house. Her backyard was filled with treasure that I desperately needed to find. She had an old broke down golf cart that was painted white with powder blue trim and was rusting terribly. In vain I consistently tried to get the cart started without her hearing me. I even broke into her dusty dark garden shed searching the keys that hung on little metal hooks against the tattered wood for one that might get the cart to turn on. One day I lifted myself up over the fence and I saw her whole backyard had been cleared out. I never knew what happened to that little old lady or her cats. 

     Dozens of tulip trees line the street. Some of the leaves have already fallen and have turned brown. I crunch one under my foot. I used to rake up these same leaves in my backyard and me and my dog snickers would jump in the piles. I think there’s a photo of us lying in the leaves buried in a closet somewhere. I miss snickers. 

     I find myself frequently looking through the lens of memory. Where the twinge of nostalgia pricks my heart, reminding me of the past and even that present moment will soon be placed in the past.

 

Little Deaths

II

 

“The future does not exist and neither does the past. All that exist is the present. 

I asked myself if this was true

The hypnotists silky words slipped through my body, filling my toes with golden cream. Slowly, filling my legs up, the words overflowing to my torso, seeping into my lungs, filling them with the sloshy liquid. It began rising higher to my neck, just before the cream was dispersed through the channels of my brain, coating everything with a warm gold. 

 

My index finger and thumb pressed together just the way she instructed me. 

 

If the past didn’t exist… then why was I  able to spend so much time stomping around there? Lifting up tiny pieces of memory here and there to look under and over. I move through the gushy memories that cover me from top to bottom. If the past didn’t exist, why was I still able to  feel the orange marigolds I dried that summer when I was eight, and still see how they disintegrated in my finger tips. The brownish orange petal flakes stuck to the inside my sweaty tan hands, as the remaining curled petals fluttered down to the cement. The memory of the dried flowers toppled over in my mind, whooshing from right to left left to right. Soaking through the lining and into the cracks of the gooey parts of my brain. I turn over each fragment, examining all the the tiny bits. Remembering. 

 

Remembering how dim garage was even though the sun was blazing through the sky that day, burning the tops of trees.

 

Im sitting on the hypnotists baby blue velvet couch with my eyes closed, but I am staring at the left over paint stains on the cement garage floor where my marigold petals have fallen. 

 

I knew she was right though. Of course she was right. The past didn’t exist. My summer moment with my marigolds in the garage was dead. 

 

In remembrance of my marigolds the entire background of my canvas is a retina burning orange. For them I move a thin layer of orange liquid up six feet, across seven and everywhere in between. For the crunchy faded petals, for the dried out waify seeds, for the petrified stems, I mix gobs of warm cadmium yellow with alizarin crimson. 

 

I wonder if the hypnotist can see the marigold shadows hang over me.

 

Phantom flowers are my favorite flowers. 

 

I’ve seen this pine tree before. Before I started drawing its skin on top of the orange paint, before I crouched down on my knees and took a photo of it by the lake. Why did I choose this tree to clone in charcoal? I really wasn’t sure. Now I was racing through my mind looking to find the trees inception. 

 

I’m in a pool of blue water floating on my back. The green pine needles juxtaposed the light sky are all I can see through the laps of water that move over my face. I can hear through the water the muffled sounds of the hose water running down the plastic water slide into the pool. I can smell the rubbery smell of the floaties on my arms.  I’m only a little nervous that I don’t know how to swim because someone’s hands are under my back propping me up, guiding me through the water. The tops of the pine trees are spinning slowly as I move across the surface of my grandpas pool. 

 

I knew the tree couldn’t hide from me. I dip my brush into a dark lavender grey puddle and slowly turn the black charcoal bark into a drippy transparent tree. Me and my grandpa’s pine trees really miss each other. 

 

Little deaths are happening all the time. Little deaths of moments. Little deaths of flowers and of jelly waters and pine needles. 

 

A little girl with dark brown curly hair looked down at the woman in the bottom left corner of my painting and asked me why the woman was dead.  I peered at the painted woman on the canvas, inspecting her body, trying to make eye contact with her, wondering when she had died. It must have happened overnight, after I had painted the grass and pink flowers around her. She must have slipped away after I switched the light in my studio and shut the door. I had a suspicion this would happen, I had questioned if the water around her would rise too high when I wasn’t looking. 

 

“Pay attention to your breathing.” The hypnotist said

 

I was, wasn’t I? I couldn’t be sure. I breathed in deep, inspecting the bottom middle of the painting, moving my eyes over to the next figure. Even though the woman’s eyes were closed, I was certain she was alive …the flowers around her seemed to be at least. Both her and her dress floated on top of the water intermingling with the Burgundy roses and long stems of grass.

 

The dead blue bird lay at her feet, smothered in waxy pink kisses. He was happy though, I could tell. I mean who wouldn’t be with that many kisses. 

 

The lavender girl at the top knew. 

 

She filled her lungs with the scent of the angel eye roses and let the fragrance linger in her lungs. She knew she would be just like them soon. Even the present moment seemed like the past to her, drifting away at such a rapid pace.  They were turning to dust just below her, turning back into the earth helping the flowers grow. She looked over the lake and into the pines, breathing in deeply, just as the hypnotist words guided her to do.  

 

I felt the water receding. 

 

“Slowly come back into the room…” the delicate velvety voice said. 

 

The grass and flowers began to sink back into the floorboards, disappearing. 

 

“Now when you are ready, open your eyes.”    

Vapor

III

It would be odd for her to go a day without thinking about how life is a vapor. Everyday she thinks about when her last breath would be, for wasn’t it just around the corner? Even if she had fifty more years to walk this earth, in retrospect that was no time at all. Wasn’t she just fourteen having her first kiss by that mossy creek she could never remember the name of. The thirteen years it had been since then dissolved quickly by.  

She thought about the summer she watched the film Vertigo, running the scenes through her mind. She remembered when the icy blonde said she was thinking “Of all the people who’ve been born and have died while the trees went on living” as she stood in the forest. For some reason this scene always replayed in her mind. 

    She wasn’t afraid of death, this wasn’t to say she was looking forward to dying, she just found the concept of endings fascinating. She was intrigued with the impermanent nature of life and how every moment that passed, would soon be a new memory.  Her acute awareness of fleeting moments was something she had little control over. 

She recalls the time  when she was five, holding her father’s hand walking through a brightly lit amusement park at night. Tears started to well up inside her seconds before they were running down her cheeks. She wiped them away rapidly with her free hand not wanting anyone to see the emotion. A mixture of tears and pink candy residue now covered her left hand and part of her face. She didn’t know what the feeling was called that was making her teary. All she knew was this special moment with her dad was only for a moment and soon it would be gone and that made her terribly sad. 

Somehow, even when she was five she could sense her temporal existence. She quickly realized that beautiful moments would flash before her continuously and then they would be over, they were almost lost if it wasn’t for the faint memory of them. 

The happiest moments made her feel the most melancholy because she knew they were just like a vapor, only to be experienced for a moment and then gone forever. 

 

A Love Letter

IV

Dear Neo, 

    I’ve always felt heartsick about what happened to your parents… what could have been, what should have been. You might even say that’s why I first became interested in you. I guess it struck a chord in me because my work is about how life is but a vapor, here for a moment and gone the next. All of the memories we create, desperately clinging too before we and they, turn to dust.  We really don’t know what tomorrow brings. God’s plan is puzzling at times. But one thing is certain, we will return to the dust underneath the flowers sooner than we expect. I apologize for getting so personal with you so very fast, but its love letter protocol. 

     Please don’t judge the morbid stuff Rauchy, it really can’t be helped on my end. Also, tell your wife Rosa she can relax, I am merely in love with your glowing turquoise blues and mustard yellow pigments that morph from plants, to buildings, to men with crab claw hands.  

    I’m happy you followed in your mother and fathers artistic footsteps, a bit like destiny.  Cliche for me to say, but truly unavoidable for you. What you have is a gift. Passed down from them. 

     You said painting comes to you as natural as breathing and I have to tell you that viewing your paintings, dissecting every moment, is a bit of the same for me. 

    Remember the turquoise blue gumby men with hot pink pom pom hands and feet that you painted. Just exactly what were those two men doing in their shiny seal like clothes? I stare at my very normal figures hands and wonder when they will begin to turn into another object as yours has.  

    I followed you down the mustard path. What can I say? The color called to me instantly when I saw it pushed behind your turquoise man holding a guitar. It was the very first painting I had ever seen by you. The glossy jacket sleeve on the man with the slicked back dark hair led me to paint my very own turquoise man holding a cigarette with his eyes shaded overlooking a subway station.  

    I remember seeing you in person for the first time…I mean seeing “Heillichtung” at the Broad. I drove there just to see you that day. Your complicated other worldly scape is something I strive for in my work as well. I have more questions about this painting than I do conclusions.. The cut off donkey head that lays to the side of the men tending to a figure on a table lead me to believe this about the aftermath of war. The strange alien like radio tower that peaks through the pine landscape takes me to apocalypse. From your interview comments and your dreamlike paintings I have the vague suspicion that you do not want these paintings to be completely figured out, and enjoy having your viewers with one foot in reality and one foot in a nightmarish hallucination.  

    I placed a pine tree in a bowl of cake mix with a little blonde girl stirring up the batter and thought of you. My figure isn’t nearly as flowy as yours is in “The Wait”, where the man floats up from the grass and turns into a grass ghost. I saw a few of your early drawings at The Broad as well and felt a parallel between your less rendered work and some of mine. It sparked a small bit of hope inside me that I would someday be able to paint flowy grass ghosts as well as you. 

    Your work will forever fascinate me, and I’ll have a forever crush on you. 

                                                                                              Love, Cecilie