Gardner Edwards drove his sleek, shiny motorcar along the back roads of the Yorkshire countryside. As acres of neatly cut patchwork quilt land, spread out before his eyes, Gard debated on hopping out of the car, and grabbing his easel and paints from the back seats. He decided against it. One, he didn't feel any urge to paint, normally he would feel a throb, and a rising guilt if he didn't stop to paint, and two, he would be late for his weekly visits to his sick father in the mental institute, which really was the more polite version of an insane asylum. Actually, he never was really late since his father never noticed. He was too caught up in his own artwork.
Gard never saw what his father drew. The doctor always confiscated the pictures for studying before Gard could have a really good look. Thinking of his sick fathers art, made Gard think of his own. It was disturbing, Gard thought as he drove along, careful of the occasional rodent that would try to cross the road, that he had not felt any compelling urge recently to paint something. His patron was getting impatient, thinking he was slacking off. Gard thought of their most recent telephone call and hoped his patron had just been in a really bad mood.
Gard had been with his wife Alice in the kitchen doing the monthly bills, when the telephone had rung. Alice, his sweet, beautiful, caring wife had answered. He remembered seeing her tender face, harden. She had handed the earpiece to him, and sat back down to her sewing. She did not glance up, but her face had been controlling her anger. Gard had asked, "Yes?"
"Mr. Edwards? This is T.J. Farming." Gard had instantly tensed up. T.J. had a good taste in art, but a foul temper, and a certain inclination to the spirits of the bottle. Gardner was always wary of his patron, and was quick not to try to anger him. Alice, who was normally so sweet and gentle, always had a hard time with Farming.
"Mr. Edwards, I have just been doing my bills-,"
"Yes sir, I have as well. As a matter of fact, you caught me right in the middle of them," Gard retorted.
"I suppose your bills have not been as long as mine," Farming began.
"Sir," Gard interrupted, "If I am still doing mine, that should tell you something".
"As I was saying", Farming went on, as though there had been no interruptions, (you could learn to hate the man), "I have just received a bill concerning the new easel I sent you."
"I see sir."
"No, I don't suppose you do. That easel cost 400 lbs, man! What are you doing with it?"
"Sir, if you didn't want to give me the easel, you shouldn't have sent it."
"That's not it! Have you used it? I have not seen a painting since I sent the easel to you," the man was clearly angry.
"Sir, that was two weeks ago. If you expect me to produce a painting within two weeks-," T.J. interrupted Gard.
"Yes I do!" the man screamed.
"I was saying sir I need more time. If that does not suit your standards, go patronize some other worthy artist."
That stopped the bull. When his voice came on again, however, it was still less than satisfying. It was stone cold ice.
"One more week, Edwards." He hung up. Alice was staring at Gard, her hands poised in mid- air, a stitch she never even started.
Gard nodded and said, "One more week."
The bleached white Edwardian mansion that was the asylum appeared to quickly for Gard. He pulled up in front of the door and sat there for a minute, deep in thought. Then he got out and started up the asylum stairs leading to the bleached white door.
The interior was also bleached white. You'd think they'd learn something, Gard thought, the guy who designed this place had no artistic inclination whatsoever. The doctor appeared, and Gard stopped his critical examination.
"Hello Mr. Edwards. Your father is waiting for you." The first time Gard had come here and the doctor had said that, Gard thought he meant it. It was really just his routine.
Gard found his father propped up in bed, but his drawing tray was not in his lap.
"He has not been drawing lately," the doctor spoke from beside Gard in the doorway, quietly, as though reading his mind, "He's stopped."
"Hello Dad," Gard spoke.
Gard's father looked up from his lap, spotting his son in the doorframe.
"Ah, my son," he exclaimed. Gard remembered that what always befuddled the doctor, was his father's lack of dementia. He always seemed to remember things so well, well, except when it came to the fairies. Gard sighed, the fairies were the only things that made Harold Edwards insane.
Gard sighed again, the fairy delusions had started 2 years ago. Harold had started claiming to be seeing the fairies, in public. Everyone had him to be just old and mad, so Gard had been forced to put his father in the asylum. Gard had hated that. He remembered how Alice had come with his father in the transferral to make sure he was all right and comfy. Alice loved his father. She had hated to put him in the asylum, more than Gard even.
Now, Harold was gesturing for Gard. He walked to the bed, and sat on the edge. His father reached for a pile of papers next to him on his nightstand. The pages were a faded tan. He handed them to his son. "It's them," he whispered, passing the papers to Gard.
These were what his father had drawn. They were fairies. Beautiful, colourful pictures they were, of fairies. His father started to name all of them.
"This one's Maeve, she's the fairy queen at the moment. That's her with her court", he said pointing to the picture. "And over here", he pulled out another sketch, "This is her daughter. The Queen hasn't told me her name yet. She such a lovely, sweet creature, like your Alice, and just as beautiful," he murmured.
"See her wings here," his withered old finger pointed out her beautiful wings, "Like dusk and dawn together."
"Like dusk and dawn together", Gard murmured.
That night, as Gard lay awake in bed, Alice sleeping soundly beside him, he thought of his father's pictures. Suppose they're true, he kept thinking.
At about 2 in the morning, Gard couldn't stand it anymore. He threw off the covers and grabbed a heavy robe, and out on his boots. He was careful not to wake Alice as he travelled down the winding staircase. He grabbed his easel set, and canvas, and went out the front door. As though pulled by some strange urge, Gard followed a well-worn path down through the woods in back of the house. He came upon the stream, and set up his easel by a rock. He began to paint.
He didn't really know what it was he was painting, he just let the colours flow from the brush, and the soft, caressing strokes fall where they may. Around dawn, Gard stopped and studied his art. He recognized the scenery of the woods, but there was something, hovering in the center of the painting. Gard followed the lines of the paint with his eyes to the tips and back down again. The colours were many, all blended in. Like dusk and dawn.
Something caught Gard's eye. He looked up. There, hovering directly in the center of his line of vision was something more beautiful than any thing he had ever seen. That something had wings.
"Like dusk and dawn," he murmured, then glanced back at the painting. "Like dusk and dawn."