In the portrait he saw his world. His world was smiling at him, looking at him through their blue painted eyes. A tiny brushed arm was reaching for him. He reached out, imagining the hand giggling when he touched her fingers. The kindhearted beauty holding the small one was as amused as he that a single touch could cause such joyous laughter.

His world was looking at him through the canvas. He was looking back, wishing he could step inside and live out his existence with them. He could see his world, but wasn't allowed to live with his world. He wasn't allowed the peace and happiness his world would bring to him.

He picked the brush up from the chestnut colored paint. Gently sliding the broom down her face, he traced the hair he used to love so much. He had lost count of how many times he had caught himself stroking her soft hair. The little one had the same color and he found himself playing with her hair when he rocked her to sleep.

Brown changed to pink as his world was given a touch of brightness. A simple dress, made by her mother, was worn by the tiny girl. He wanted to smile at the mood of the painting. It was happy, peaceful. Everything he had lost.

He set the brush down. His eyes bore into the eyes of the women in the picture. He wanted one to move, to prove to him that he wasn't just wishing and that his world would give him a sign that he could converse with them. Neither of them moved.

Dropping to the floor, he ignored the pain on his bottom and stared up at the painting. They were above him, but still looked ahead of them. They hadn't even noticed he had left. The painter dropped his head with tears spilling from his brown eyes.

His world was nothing but a picture, never to move and never to feel. What he wanted was just image of his world. His world had been ripped from his arms by the harsh hands of God. He would never hear his daughter's laughter or feel is wife's smooth skin. Because they were gone. Taken from him without warning.

Painting was his purpose in life. He'd known since he was a young boy. His artwork had given him the money he needed to live. His purpose united with his world at one time. The energy he had for his purpose was disappearing so rapidly like his world had.

He was gone for only two days and a night. There was a woman on the other side of the town who wanted a painting of herself above the fireplace. He went left early morning and by mid-afternoon, he was beginning on the painting. Like always, he put all his energy in the painting. But he wasn't finished by nightfall and stayed the night. He finished late in the afternoon the next day.

When he had made it home, he was met with the authorities. The damn disease had taken his world from him. His house was burned and his child and wife buried. He wasn't able to see them as they were buried. The casket blocked his vision.

He had a new house but it wasn't filled with the same comfort he loved. There was no laughter, no crying, no calls. No one was talking to him, holding his hand, or kissing his bearded face. He didn't have a body to hold, hair to touch, or a face to give a blush to.

How many painting had he painted of the two? Ten? Twenty? He wasn't sure. Each painting of them was of what he saw of them. There were many of the young one sleeping, running around, or playing with his paint. Many more of his wife, hugging their daughter and singing to her and cleaning around the house.

His hands were stained with colors. Colors of days and nights, marked onto his skin. His hands ached, his eyes burned, his head spun. Did he have any more energy left in him? He hadn't slept or eaten in days or stopped his painting since he began. How long would it be until his hands fell off from two much use? Would he starve to death first or pass out before they vanished?

He looked back at the painting. That was the last memory of them. She was holding her to say goodbye up close. Her hand was out, wanting him to hold her. He simply touched her hand and left with a single goodbye. He was so sure he would see them in a few short days.

The two blue eyes he had once known were blank as they stared at the wall. With tears of his last memory of his world falling down his rugged face, he stood up off the cold floor and to his dull, passionless creation.

He stared at the painting, eye to eye with the two girls. Death stole them from him without a warning. Inside, he was filled with nothing but emptiness and despair while they continued to smile with their painted eyes. He touched the paint brush without turning away.

The brush didn't move from its spot by the green paint. His hand moved until he found a jar on the table. Bright yellow paint was being thrown on their faces and clothes. He dropped the jar, barely noticing it smash upon the floor, and picked up another one. Black paint spilled onto them.

He shouted with anger and threw the container onto the floor. The dark color left his shoes, floor, and pant legs in a befouled state. His fist went back and was thrashed into the painting of his world. The wet paint coated his first. The mess didn't bother him.

It only took him a moment to reach the rest of his paintings of his world in his small house. He picked one up, the one of his wife resting on the sofa, and smashed it against the wall. His daughter sleeping had paint thrown upon it. The two of them playing was split under his heavy feet.

Dozens of portraits he wasted hours a day to relive his world were destroyed by his desperate mind. His world didn't live in paintings. A smeared picture wasn't enough to bring back the joy he had before he lost them. Nothing would bring back the bliss he once lived in.

He didn't feel better or worse when he shattered his creations. He felt like he had since the day his world burned—Hollow. His sweat and tears mixed with the paint that splashed on his face. His clothing was ruined and his body was tired. Slowly, he sat on the floor and attempted to calm his breathing.

In front of him was a small painting he had kicked. His foot had hit it in the middle, pushing the papers back. He reached forwards, picking up the canvas and dragging it in his lap. He pulled the picture back to the front.

His daughter was smiling at him. A true smile. She sat in his wife's lap. She was looking down at their daughter, but the little girl was grinning at him. Her wide blue eyes shined with true happiness in his direction.

He had forgotten when it was painted. It must not have been long after they left for he was able to get their true happiness. Energy and passion were gleaming from their faces. The painting was as all the others should have been. It was beautiful. It showed his world, the world he used to live before they were gone.

And he had destroyed it. He ruined the last piece of his world. His eyes flooded with tears and groans of sorrow slipped from between his chapped lips. He laid his body on the floor, holding his ruined world in his arms as he cried until early morning sun.