This small story presupposes that you are at least a little familiar with the world that Charlie and Kippy live in. If you're not, you may not get the magic.
Kippy Lawson sat in his boyfriend's bedroom and watched as Charlie Boone put the finishing touches on the painting. The small canvas was covered in swirls and patterns of many colors, but didn't seem to resemble any one thing that Kippy could put a name to. It had started out looking like a thunder cloud, dark and moody, until Charlie had added some brighter, more cheerful colors; and then it had looked kind of like a tornado that had attacked an unsuspecting paint store on some barren Kansas plain.
Kippy could almost see things that made sense - patterns that seemed to taunt his eyes and suggest this or that; but then Charlie would swipe the brush over them and blend them back into the general confusion. About the time that Charlie stepped back from the makeshift easel and smiled, Kippy had decided that painting pictures was one thing that his boyfriend was not ever going to be particularly good at. This assignment was going to be a bust, for sure.
"There," Charlie said, and glanced proudly over his shoulder at Kip. "What do you think?"
Kippy pushed himself off the edge of the bed and walked up to the painting, while Charlie watched him expectantly.
"You want my honest opinion?" Kippy asked.
Charlie sighed, and laid the brush he'd been using into the old shoebox he'd adapted into a makeshift palette. "If it's not too much trouble." But it was plain from Charlie's expression that he could already see that Kippy didn't like the painting.
Kippy smiled, and cupped his chin in a thumb and forefinger, and gazed at the painting again. "The assignment was to show what you feel inside you." Kippy looked pointedly at the painting. "What's in your heart, Ms. Ballenger said."
Charlie nodded. "This is what's in my heart, Kip."
Kippy's eyebrows went up. "Really?"
"Yes. You don't see anything there? Nothing at all?"
The emphasis his boyfriend had placed on the last question caused Kippy to blink, and to reexamine the painting once again. He let his eyes return to the maelstrom of colors, searching for something of meaning there. But no matter where he looked, all he could see was chaos.
His confusion must have showed. Charlie smiled at him then, and leaned over and gently kissed his cheek. "You're looking too hard, Kip. Relax."
Charlie put his arm around Kippy's shoulder's and gave him a fond squeeze, and they stood together and looked again.
Kippy took a breath and let it out, and leaned against Charlie, and commanded his eyes to stop looking for something, and just kind of take in everything. The painting blurred a little, and seemed almost to flow before his eyes. He blinked, and noted for the first time that there were little flashes of color here and there in the mix, almost like sparkles, that were kind of cheerful and comforting, almost like stars in the night sky. And...and the way that green spongy blob above the brown stroke looked like treetops near Myer's Hill, waving in the summer breeze...that was also interesting. And up to the right, there was a black blotch, totally black, except for a tiny brown crescent that seemed to hang unsupported in the middle of all that darkness. Kippy was immediately reminded of Engris, the artificial world that hung in the equal blackness of the Cooee, far off in space and no-time, visited twice now in their travels with Mike and Pacha'ka.
At the bottom of the painting were four upright brush strokes, forked at the bottom, that now resembled four people walking, and Kippy was immediately put in mind of himself, Charlie, Ricky Travers, and Adrian Whitaker - four friends, who had made it a habit of going places together. Doing things together. Being together.
Four friends, walking together across the bottom of the painting, while mysterious things happened above them.
And there, over on the other side...was that a figure in red...leading a horse? Nicholaas and Kirka? And that smaller figure beside the one in red...no, it was three smaller figures! Was that Max, and Frit and Pip, their elven friends? And those many dots of light, all different colors? They looked like the warm Christmas lights of Twombly!
Suddenly, things began to leap out at Kippy, from everywhere within the mass of colors. People they knew, places they had been, things that he and Charlie had wished together, and dreamed together, and done together. Moments in time, experiences shared. Memories created, and now fondly stored away. Everything that meant anything to both of them, and to the people they loved, everywhere in the universe, and beyond.
"Oh...Charlie," Kippy breathed, seeing it all now. "It's...it's beautiful." He turned into Charlie's arms, and they closed their eyes and held onto each other. The room was quiet save for Charlie's alarm clock ticking on his nightstand, and the lightest of February breezes, playing in the cold sunshine outside the bedroom window. Kippy could feel his own heart beating - and then the faint pulse of Charlie's, chest against chest, close and dear.
He pulled back, and smiled into Charlie's eyes. "I was going to say that I didn't see anything. That it didn't make sense to me. And then, it just did."
"I know." Charlie nodded. "I used some magic, Kip. One of the wishes that Kiley and Kiri gave to us." He turned and looked at the painting. "I painted that with magic, and only someone that shares that magic can see what is there."
Kippy nodded. "I didn't see anything at first. It just looked really confused to me."
"Uh huh. That's because you were only seeing it with your eyes." Charlie sighed. "You have to look at this painting with your heart to see what is really there."
Kippy shook his head. "You can't turn this in for your art project at school, Charlie." He looked again at the painting, and smiled. "It's too...too special for that."
Charlie leaned over and kissed Kippy again. "I didn't do this painting for school, Kip. I did it for you."
Kippy gasped, and turned back to gaze into his boyfriend's eyes. "For me?"
Charlie smiled at the expression on his boyfriend's face. "Yup. From my heart, to yours. Happy Valentine's Day, Kip."
Kippy squeezed his eyes closed a moment, and then laughed. "Oh, Charlie. You say the nicest things."
"I love you, Kip."
"Oh, Charlie, I love you, too."
They stood together and looked at the painting some more, remembering together, and smiling.
This is the shortest Charlie Boone tale I'll probably ever write.
But, sometimes, a few short words are all it takes.