Ruta de navegación



Aplicaciones anidadas


Cold window painter

By Natalia Vallejo, 2nd Year Philosophy and Journalism

Cold window painter

Every time I see a fogged glass I become an artist. Not to brag, but I have incredible technique and precision, fingers taut but wrist fluid. Is it like using a paintbrush? More like holding a baton. I started my programs of study with geometric shapes; then, I wrote my name guided by calligraphy tutorials on the internet; finally, I became interested in humans and animals, even though their bodies were very complicated, making their faces came naturally to me. Then I discovered that smiley faces were my specialization program. Even today they still have big teeth, or stick out their language, but my favourites are the closed eyes (the face my family makes when they hug).  

Dad says that hugging with closed eyes means trust, that we don't need to see anything, and feeling safe is enough. Many times I don't know what he's talking about, what do you mean we don't need to see anything? And I won't listen to him, my reputation can't be tarnished, not today. Today every window in the house is a canvas. Square in the rooms, rectangular and long in the conference room, circular in the kitchen. But there is one window I have never painted. The one in the attic. It is perfect. Triangular, the framework peach-coloured, with glints of emerald light and most important: so foggy that I'd have to use two fingers to make the pattern break through the condensed water, my wrist will have to move like a ribbon in the air; and my fingers like drumsticks. My brother will help me with the ladder. The big face will be the centre of conversation at dinner. At the moment, it is "Big Brother". The guests will drink wine and talk about my art. The best decoration in the house, better than the lights, the reindeer, and the inflatables mum has put up. 

I put on black boots and woollen gloves. A red hat and a green coat (I know, but my mother insisted on the Christmas spirit this year). I open the door and the wind blows me back, pushes me away and the snow hits my nose. With one hand I hold my coat tightly, and with the other I cover my face. I close my eyes and walk. I walk down the porch, blindly, and once the snow eats my feet, I open them. Boris is outside, he's wearing a pair of shorts, and a leather jacket. He hastily plunges his lit cigarette into the snow. He's always trying to be one of those bad boys in the movies. 

- You look ridiculous, Bo," I say. He likes me to call him Bo. 

- You're ridiculous. A smiley face? Is that why we're doing all this?

- Yes, now put the ladder up, please.

With difficulty, he lifts the ladder. It's a yellow one that dad bought when he saw it in one of those commercials where they shout "Call me now!", and a very pretty lady climbs up and leave the ladder, while a fat man stumbles on a different ladder, uglier, less functional and much more expensive. 

- Just get on the ladder, I've got things to do," says Bo, breathing heavily. He stands in the middle and holds the ladder with his arms outstretched. Like the Vitruvian Man. 

- You know you should go to the gym instead of watching so many movies," I say and flash him a smile. 

I begin the ascent. Fifth step. My legs tremble and at the same time the legs of the ladder tremble. If I take off my gloves they would be full of sweat. I feel drumbeats in my throat. It's the heart. Seventh step. I'm halfway up and I stop. I close my eyes and breathe. How is it possible that I, Otto, the greatest artist of cold windows, can't climb a ladder? I continue. 

I meeting with the window face to face. I can't see the other side. The mist is part of the glass, it looks like it's been there forever. 

- Bo, hang in there.

I raise my right hand, I see the glove. I know what I have to do. I bite it just above the big toe, pull, then the ring finger, pull. It shoots out. I put the index and middle finger together, hide the ring and little finger, and tie them with the big one. I start drawing. Dad peeks out to watch. As I do, I think that I want the face to trust me, that I will paint it every year, and that every year it will be better. Like when I bite into the biscuits my brother bakes, like when my sister gets her hair done by my mother and my father gets his hair done by my sister, like when I look at the calendar and know that what's written on it will happen. Like when I swallow a medicine and close my eyes. Like when I make a wish and close my eyes. Like the trust of closed eyes. 

The staircase trembles.

- Bo, hang in there.

I finish and barely take a small step backwards. I've forgotten that I'm six metres above the ground. My heel can't find support and the rest of the sole tries to cling to the ladder. A single movement can define everything, I move my arms in the illusion of finding a grip, but little by little I meeting face the sky. Before I can contemplate the result in the window, I'm already falling. I'm flying. In the air, with my arm outstretched and my elbow locked, my hand moves delicately, it has a life of its own. It forms the circle, the eyes, the mouth, and the nose (just as a dot, there wasn't much time). It is a perfect work. Everything is black and, within seconds, I feel two more arms stretched out behind me (I remember feeling them many times before, when I broke my leg and was learning to walk again). They have broken my fall, I think. I hear mum's screams from conference room. I hear Dad's voice beside me. Almost inside me. 

- Otto, hang in there.

I climb lazily. I pull and the folding ladder comes out aggressively. Actually, I'm tense, I've been avoiding them ever since that accident and now I have to climb one. The attic smells like grandpa's house, I step inside and the dust moves like snow, but in slow motion. The yellowish light coming through the window blurs the shadows. I look around me. Halloween decorations, my old crutches, a tent, books, boxes that say "photos", "videotapes", "karaoke equipment" and the ugly green coat my mother forced me to wear as a child. I walk over to the window and touch the scar on my cheekbone - all for a smiley face? I adjust my leather jacket. I reach for the box on the yellow ladder. Red wine-coloured photo albums are strewn on the floor. I flip through the pages with pictures of naked children in the bathtub, of the family at the beach, in the mountains, skiing, riding horses, of when we all had chicken pox, and of the big smiley face.   

My little face is the most important exhibit in this antique museum. I get so close that my smile, eyebrows and nose are aligned with the picture in the drawing. I think of Boris and my father's desperate attempts. Of my mother's screaming and running in heels. I think of a table and a coaster next to my bed. The table doesn't want to get damaged, but it knows it's protected by the little piece of wood, as always. And if a drop falls, the table won't blame him, because it knows he did his best. I think about how I learned the confidence of eyes closed to the blows, which now look like those of a few drops of water. I endured. I close my eyes and become one with the drawing. I am sure (and the calendar says so) that this will be a good winter.

Cold window painter



Do you have a text you are proud of?


Do you want to know more about our Degrees?