Finger Painting by Numbers

Hope House

Hope House is not a particularly impressive place. It's a two story, old-fashioned house, hemmed in uncomfortably by the surrounding businesses. It seems to have been saved from the brink of destruction when the surrounding neighborhood was leveled to put in office buildings. 'Saved' is a bit of a loose term. There is paint peeling, a slightly grown up lawn, and a general atmosphere of just slight neglect. The structure is sound, however, and the interior is much more well-maintained than the exterior. Clearly, someone is having to prioritize on a tight budget, and the facilities that the residents actually use are put at the top of the list.

todd_icon.jpg makea_icon.jpg

The space dedicated (for the afternoon, at least) to Makea's art class is also used for various other volunteer groups. It's not a large room, but it is clean and well-lit, with the ubiquitous, sturdy folding tables and chairs for the patients to sit. All things considered, the patients here are fairly high-functioning, though each has his own unique quirks. Each is expected to be mostly independent, and the only resident who requires routine supervision is one Todd Landers. While the other patients sit around the tables, happily painting away on their assignments, Todd hardly manages to get color on the page before he gets distracted. By the time the lesson time is half up, while Makea is distracted with other members of the group, Todd has wandered away from the tables and back to the window. Once there, he seems content to just sit and look out, watching the world go by.

Todd jerks a little as Makea touches his arm, and looks up with slightly wide eyes, as though surprised to see her standing there. There's nothing vacant about that gaze, but he does have a kind of eternally puzzled look, as though the whole world is one big puzzle to solve. "Hm? Interesting about what?" he asks. He glances behind her at the class gathered, and gives a vague, uncertain smile. "I'm sorry, am I in the way? I can go out…"

Makea gives a soft laugh and hugs Todd in against her for only a moment, "No no, not in the way at all." While she understands that the patients are fairly independent and capable, her speech does slow a bit. "You were starin', that's all. If you don't like to paint," she motions with a tilt of her head to the current project, "I could always hand over some charcoal, or even crayons if you'd like." That last part is a something of a joke, and her grin widens because of it.

Todd accepts the hug with the same kind of puzzled affability that he accepts pretty much everything. "Oh. Sorry. I'll try not to do that anymore," he offers, and automatically reaches for his pocket and the notebook there. "I don't mind painting," he replies, already flipping open the notebook to write in the bit about not staring. "But I don't really know how to paint. I don't know anything about charcoal, either. Don't they use that to make fire?" He hesitates a little, and frowns just slightly as he looks up at Makea. "I thought crayons were for children?" Given that genuine confusion, he'd probably go along with whatever answer she gave.

Her brows raise a bit in surprise as he apologizes, figuring that no matter how much reassurance she gives, he's still going to write it down. For some reason. That notebook is subtly glanced at, before Todd has to suffer through another little squeezehug. "Doesn't matter. To be honest, I'm not too handy with a paintbrush m'self. But it's still fun to try, right?" Releasing him without so much as a tug for compliance, Makea straightens up. "Charcoal, in stick form, can be drawn with. Kinda messy." Though that just makes it more enjoyable, really. "And crayons are for anyone who wants to use 'em. Sure, I mostly give 'em to bored lookin' kids… but I use 'em myself, from time to time." A playful wink is offered, hoping to shatter any age boundaries the man may have about art supplies.

The notebook is not terribly interesting. The page Todd writes on is mostly filled with random and disorganized notes to himself, occasionally with little confused follow-up notes in the margins. Satisfied with his note, he tucks it back into his pocket, and accepts the second hug. He glances to what everyone else is doing, and then says, "Maybe I'll just paint?" He stands away from the window, seeming ready to follow wherever she wants to lead. He already has a painting started, of course, but he seems pretty oblivious to that as he asks, "Where should I sit?"

If Makea is confused or surprised by his behavior, she manages to keep it internal. She remembers the brief introduction to what sort of patients the Hope House caters to, though Todd wasn't mentioned by name. "Sure." She takes a step back to let him stand, but doesn't stray too far. Not yet. She has to watch the little lamb find his way to a seat first. "Well, since you were sittin' right there…" The woman trails off, long nail pointed to his abandoned seat. The attempt at the beginnings of a picture is still waiting for him. "You even got a paintin' started, Sug." She reminds him, "Why not continue now that you're fresh from your little break?"

Todd blinks a little, but tries not to look too surprised. He gives a sly little glance to the side, then gives a smile and waves his hand. "Oh. Right. Yeah, of course. My painting! Can't forget that, right?" He hesitates, but luckily she pointed him in the right direction, and his is the only unoccupied seat with an unfinished painting. "Right. That's mine. I remember that." There's a very good chance he's fibbing on that count, but the result is the same as he wanders back to his seat, frowning slightly as he returns to the folding chair. Absently, he reaches into his pocket to pull out his notebook, and this time turns to the end where a number of sticky notes are tucked behind the cover. He scribbles on one, thoughtfully, and then sticks it onto the table, next to the painting. The sticky note says "Todd's painting", with an arrow toward the unfinished painting. He just looks at it for a few minutes with that puzzled expression, but in the end he just dips his finger into the red paint and goes to work, smearing red around on the canvas with a slight frown of concentration.

Makea only chuckles, and despite his not saying anything particularly amusing, she's laughing with him. Not at him. Once he's settled in, she walks by with a little pat to his shoulder as she goes around to check on others. So far, she hasn't had any others wandering away from their arts and crafts. Another pleasant surprise, some are actually quite good! Then again, they're using paintbrushes. As her orbit of positive reinforcement makes becomes complete, she'll peer over the curiously forgetful man's shoulder. "Todd, is it? What're you workin' on?" Another chuckle, "Y'can always shoo me away for bein' too nosy, don't be shy."

Todd doesn't look up from the painting this time. He's a little too focused, this time around. He must have been pretty determined not to lose track, because he's still painting away, his fingers covered in a different color of paint for each finger. The painting is nothing special. The background is a murky green, with fuzzy pink and red splotches here and there. The focus seems to be a splotchy peach-colored circle topped with a blurry brownish blob. Extending from the bottom of the peach circle is another oblong, reddish blob. He surveys the painting, and finally shakes his head. "I don't know, yet," he says, distantly, and absently reaches for a towel to wipe off his hands.

A soft hum of understanding leaves the instructor's throat, accepting his answer far too easily. Then again, there really are no rules to the creative process. On another note, who would apply them given the situation? While her dark eyes inspect the colors chosen, Makea stays silent so as not to interrupt his delicate train of thought. It's really more like a little handcar of thought with Todd, though. Moving to her large supply box, she pulls out a small box of tissues and offers it to him. "Didn't think to bring anythin' bigger." She doesn't mention that he's free to use a brush. It's his painting, after all.

Todd glances up as the tissues are offered, and gives a sweet little smile. "Oh, thank you," he replies, taking one of the tissues to start the cleaning process. Or at least get some of the worst off his hands. "Something's missing," he comments, as he looks back to the painting. "Something important is missing." He considers it while cleaning his hands, and eventually abandons the tissue in favor of cupping his chin. Of course, this results in some transfer of paint residue, but that's just to be expected, right? After some thought, he finally extracts the pencil from his shirt pocket, and goes to work drawing on the peach blob. Carefully, with careful attention to detail, he draws a pair of eyes. It takes him some time, as he focuses on the task at hand. Compared to the rest of the painting, the eyes are quite out of place, rendered in such detail, but as he sits up and takes in the effect, he seems satisfied. "There. That's better."

Makea returns that smile, though hers is much wider. "Anytime, Sug." Despite knowing his name due to the handy dandy stickynote, she clings to the petname until corrected. Rather than offer suggestions to what might be missing, the woman simply watches and waits. Plucking the dirtied tissue with her french tipped claws, she leaves him to remember in order to throw the soiled scrap away. Upon returning, she inhales in surprise, taking great care to exhale slowly. Todd then gets both shoulder's squeezed as she presses her cheek into his hair. Sneak attack! Though it's certainly not the first 'good job' hug she's given today. And it won't be the last. "Oh, that looks great! The eyes are really somethin'…" Despite having an idea of his condition, Makea just has to ask. "Who is it?"

Todd jerks a little as his shoulders are suddenly squeezed, but he submits to the hugs with slightly wide eyes. The question is answered rather automatically, "It's you." But then he glances up at Makea, then down to the painting, and frowns slightly. "No. No, it's not you. It's…" His brow furrows as he tries to come up with the answer. "Someone," he says, finally, looking a little disappointed that nothing more concrete came to mind. "Someone important." He reaches to trace a finger over the pink blobs in the background, and explains, "It's roses in the pine trees. That's home."

Makea is often met with surprise at her affectionate nature, but that certainly doesn't stop this woman. And Todd isn't reacting violently or avoiding her embraces, and so they'll continue until he does. Noticing how he struggles to answer her question, the instructor is suddenly filled with guilt. Crouching so that she's around eye level with him, Makea gives him the gentlest little nudge. "They've gotta be pretty important for you t' give 'em such pretty eyes." Taking note of the roses and other details as Todd points them out, she nods. "Sounds like a good name for your paintin', huh? 'Home'." She offers, eyes taking it all in as one would study a museum piece.

Todd looks back to Makea with a troubled smile. "Yes. They must be." He looks back to the painting, and blinks hard a couple of times. He seems to be getting a little misty-eyed. "Feels like home. I'll call it that," he agrees, quietly, without taking his eyes off the painting. Inevitably, of course, his attention wanders back to Makea, with a return of that puzzled smile. "I'm sorry, what were we talking about?"

Perhaps with a bit more tact than the average person, Makea doesn't just outright asks what's wrong with Todd. Unphased, she moves with a gentle grace, not wanting to upset the man. "We were just namin' your paintin', Sug." She offered, voice a soothingly sweet rumble. Tugging a thin marker from behind her ear, the woman leans over him and searches for a dry patch on the paper. Handwriting is quick but filled with rounded edges and plump curves, much like Makea herself. "Home." She reads the title, before offering him the marker, "Now sign your name wherever you want."

Todd glances to the painting, and there is a brief flash of surprise that he attempts to supress. "Oh! Right. Of course. /My/ painting." He watches as she writes the name on the painting, and he gives a slow, bashful grin. "That's a good name," he comments, accepting the pen and writing out "Todd Landers" in his own small, neat script. "That's me. Todd Landers." The smile grows as he looks at the painting, eventually leading to a little laugh. "Todd Landers in his home. I like that," he decides, approvingly.

Makea gives a nod of approval, "All yours, Sug." Like flicking on a switch, as Todd begins to jot down his name, so does her smile turn into a grin. "That's a great paintin', Mr. Todd Landers." She repeats, gently tugging her marker from his fingers. Her talons rake through his hair affectionately, certainly not tugging as she musses those dark locks up. "You enjoy that picture, Sug. It'll be a joy every time you see it." The woman knows there's a certain sad truth to that fact as she turns to help others scrawl titles and signatures. While she's intrigued by Todd, Makea knows better than to play favorites, and her time is quickly running out. She wants everyone present to have something from the day, something bright and colorful that they made themselves.

Todd considers the painting for some time, admiring it from various angles. At least, he does until he notices the paint smears on his hands. He looks them over with some bemusement, then drifts to his feet, wandering to find a sink to clean up. Interestingly enough, considering his condition, he doesn't have trouble finding the restroom and the sink, and after a few minutes he emerges, fresh and clean aside from a few smudges on his clothes. As he emerges, he brightens at the sight of all the painters. A new discovery every moment! Curious, he wonders along the tables, looking at the various creations. The other residents seem to be pretty tolerant, but it's hard to be annoyed at a privacy invasion by someone you know will forget it the next moment.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License