He watched him as he stared into the canvas. The hand, numbed by absinthe, dipped the brush into those blotches of sharp yellow on the palette. He didn’t know what was going on in his mind, but he saw how much his brother suffered from his art. Theo believed in his brother’s vision, even if Vincent was perennially broke and always on edge. He kept going to the bank to fill his account. From that deposit, Vincent bought his alcohol (which gave him vision) and his painting materials (which gave him his living).
It wasn’t Vincent who drew the sunflowers or the starry, starry night. Rather, it was his hand and his eyes. No one would bother understanding Vincent except Theo. Some people saw Vincent as a visionary artist forsaken by his own creativity. Still others saw him as a nuisance to society who had one too many glasses of liquor, or took too long of a sniff of the paint and the varnish.
Vincent kept sketching. The charcoal drew deep marks into the canvas. The splotches and blotches turned to strokes, the strokes turning into the vase, the stems, the petals. Theo kept watching. Through the dead of night he watched his brother as he took those patient strokes to task. For weeks, Vincent kept drawing the sunflowers that he hoped would bring him fame, recognition, and the peers he wanted so badly to have.
Theo watched his brother’s form. The man before him suffered for his art, for those wretched sunflowers or the view he had from the bridge or from the fields. The man before the canvas was hunched over as he filled in the gaps between the outlines with bright colors that stood out from the bleakness of the man drawing them. Haggard, pained, tortured from whatever that ills him.
“Time to go to bed, Vincent,” Theo said.
Vincent dropped the palette and the brushes and dragged himself to the cot that, for all intents and purposes, was his bed. The tortured artist, for the moment, has left the shabby dwelling. It wasn’t the artist that Theo cared for the most. Not the art, not the drawings, not the fame that would never come to him, but his brother who lay there, who needed to be tucked in for the night.
Vincent’s brother left the apartment, the sunflowers shining brightly from a man swathed neatly in woolen blankets, asleep… at least for the night.