In a small town, not far away, lived a boy who could only paint. He could not chop wood, the ax was too heavy and it fell out of his hands. When he gardened, the plants always died. The cows ran from him and afterwards would only give spoiled milk. He could not weave or spin. The yarn would always tangle around his fingers.

So his family and the people of the town decided to leave him alone to do what he really liked to do.
The boy who could only paint loved to paint. He would often paint pictures of children playing and pictures of parents smiling while watching their children. He would paint with blues and greens, browns and pinks too. There would be kites in his paintings with blazing colors as they soared high in the bright blue sky. There were balloons and parades and fairs with dancing and fun everywhere.

In the middle of the town there was a wall that had a picture on it. A picture of destruction, war and gloom. A prophet had come through the town one day and predicted war, destruction and a sad end for the town and its people. The town’s people believed the prophet – he was a very wise man. They trusted this man who spoke great wonders and painted them on their wall. Believing the prophet’s tale, they busied themselves working hard to secure their town from unknown horrors. Walls were built, towers for storage and other strong fortresses for safety were made. The town stored food and clothing for such a dire day ahead. Not knowing when or how that sad day would come they worked harder so all their hard work wouldn’t be lost.

Now on a very normal day, as the people ran and busied themselves with their work, the young boy took his paint and brushes, looking for something to paint. His family had finally quit trying to make him useful, so he was alone. He walked into the town, looked around and spotted his next place to paint. First he took out blue, a nice soft blue. He covered that sad picture on the old wall. Green was next. His trees were green and they were strong. Brown was for the trunks and the roots that grew into the ground. He painted a sun and some birds and a boy with a wide smile.

One by one the town’s people stopped what they were doing. The man with a wagon load of corn, the lady with her milk cows, even the girl with a basket, full of eggs, stopped to see what the boy had done. As the crowd gathered around, they didn’t know what to think. Should they be angry with the boy who could only paint? He’d destroyed the prophet’s work. But no one could quite remember, what had been on the wall before. One gentleman thought it had been a building. A young girl remembered a crow. Out of all the people no one remembered the prophet’s message.

One lone man walked towards the boy, took the paintbrush from the boy’s hand and grabbed the small can of paint. With tears in his eyes, he walked towards the wall of doom and destruction, dipped the brush into the blue paint, then added his paint to the newly painted wall. One by one the people came forward and painted a spot onto the wall while the boy who could only paint now could only watch.

The universe is made up of stories, not atoms…Muriel Rukeyser. What is your story?

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