ART STORY | Workshop Stories

On March Break, the Art Gallery of Mississauga and the Mississauga Library System hosted TELL ME A STORY: An Art-Inspired Creative Writing Workshop for Youth. Participants, aged 10 – 19, were asked to choose from a selection of works from the AGM’s Permanent Art Collection, or the AGM’s current exhibition, Lila Lewis Irving: Con Spirito | Retrospective. The AGM provided captions for some of the works, to inspire imaginative storytelling. Participants were given 30 minutes to come up with their stories.

The inspiration for the workshop came from Chris Van Allsburg’s Chronicles of Harris Burdick, which features short stories  inspired by Van Allsburg’s illustrations and created by writers such as Stephen King and Lois Lowry. Thanks to the support of Thomas Allen Ltd, ten of the participants were also given signed copies of Chronicles of Harris Burdick or the original Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

Tom Forrestall, Tide, Ebb and Waiting (ed. 45/150)
From the Art Gallery of Mississauga’s Permanent Art Collection

998469
Every day, at 3 pm, the car was there.

Every day, at 3 pm, the car was there
By Inderjit Deogun 

One year, three months, five days, seven hours and forty-five seconds. That’s how long it’s been since my wife died.

***

Nights are the worst. That’s when I miss her the most. Like the darkness, it creeps up on me and I lie awake paralyzed by it. But that’s not the only terror that night brings. At night is when my body aches; every fiber screams for her. After all this time, my body still remembers what it was like to breathe her in, to kiss her lips, to touch her skin, to feel her warmth. When the loneliness threatens to drive me mad, as it always does, I come here, to her library.

I like to believe it was the library of her dreams. On our tenth date, walking along the Toronto Harbourfront, she spotted a child reading and began to recount a scene from Beauty and the Beast. The way her eyes lit up at the memory left me mesmerized. I knew what I had to do. It took me almost a year to build, with months of planning and sifting through magazines, books and stores, all the while asking her inconspicuous questions. She never once suspected that one of her dreams was about to come true.

***

I met her thirteen years ago on this very dock. The day was Saturday, August 14, 1999. I laid eyes on her at precisely 3 p.m. Now I come here every day to relive that moment.

***

As soon as you walk in, there’s her desk, which faces the entrance. If you’re sitting at the desk, you lay eyes on an illustration of a tree that bears books rather than fruit. The image is a reimagining of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Beyond the desk is a bay window that looks out on the apple tree she planted when we first moved in. On either side of the room are wall-to-wall, built-in, mahogany bookshelves with glass doors. The walls are honeysuckle yellow. And in the middle of the room there’s a circular rug featuring a compass.

I surprised her with the library on our first wedding anniversary. In gold lettering I engraved in the door: “Some books should be tasted, some devoured, but only a few should be chewed and digested thoroughly.” I wondered if she thought I was nuts putting this quote on the door of what was supposed to be my game room. She entered the library without saying a word. Stopped on the rug and took in every detail circling around again and again. It was a clear day so both the library and my wife were bathed in brilliant sunlight. Her silence made me afraid. Had I done something wrong? I was just about to speak when she walked over, looked me straight in the eyes with tears running down her cheeks and said, “Thank you.” Two words, that’s all. It was enough for me.

When I enter it now, everything is as she left it: The Book Thief lies unfinished by the bay window. I can’t bring myself to move it because if I do I feel like I’m erasing her. She left her bookmark on page 416; the name of the chapter is “Punishment”, she’ll never know how that book ends.

***

If I stand exactly where she was standing on the docks, I swear I can feel the beating of her heart next to mine. For a whisper in time, she’s not a memory anymore. She’s with me again, my wife.

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