Once upon a time, a very, very long time ago, there existed a young girl who loved to paint. She did so many things with only the tip of her fingers. She painted the sun orange, the oceans blue, and the grass green. One day, she noticed a paintbrush lying under the willow tree.
"What is this?" she asked, for she had only created with her fingers. "Where did it come from?" She received no reply.
She was a curious girl, and instinctively dipped the point into her maroon paint. Streaking the brush across her paper, she gasped.
"It works so much better than my hands!"
She swooped and swooped with the brush until the sun dipped, and smiled the whole time. It was growing dark, however, and the girl was tired. She collected her things, sealed off her paint, and slept beneath the arms of the willow tree.
The young girl grew accustomed to the paintbrush, and began to favor the instrument. She drew nature more vividly, and the grass was a brighter shade of green. The ocean and sky blended together in a cerulean hue. The girl smiled.
She dreamed last night of her mother and father, and with the memories fresh in her mind, she began to mimic the dream. She captured her mother's long golden hair, and her father's dimpled smile. Her mother's cinnamon eyes. Her father's thin-rimmed glasses. And around them, she drew a big, tall sun, and filled in the space with yellow. Satisfied with her result, she drew the portrait close to her and curled into a ball for a nap.
Her parents held each others' hands and watched, safeguarding the girl from any dangers the night could bring. Nothing touched her.
When the girl woke the next morning, her parents' smiling faces were the first things which greeted her. Startled, she sat up. Luckily, the girl realized who they were and hugged the painting to her bosom. It took a while for her to realize something was different. Their hands.
"I didn't draw them like that," she commented slowly. It made her happy though, imagining her parents dancing in the heavens above.
The girl stayed up long past her bedtime that night to see the wide, deep outer space. She found herself growing frightened, but she remembered her parents' welcoming eyes and rosy glow, and she felt safe.
"You'll protect me, right?" she murmured.
She had stayed up late for the stars.
This was her most difficult painting yet. The young girl figured out how to blend colors, and painted a sparkling twilight across her final sheet of paper. But sometimes the purple was too deep, and the blacks too dark. Seized in anger, she threw the paintbrush as hard as she could, managing to distance it from her by several yards. And she buried her head in her hands and cried. Her tears mixed with some of the watercolor and into a salty mess.
She didn't know how much time had passed, but when she looked up again, the paintbrush and a new stack of paper stood beside her. The white of the paper glowed in the night. She dared not move, and stared at the objects for hours. Her growing mind struggled to figure out how they'd gotten there.
But by then, dawn had pushed night aside. She would have to begin again tomorrow.
This time, the girl was determined to finish the painting. She found her most comfortable position in the roots of the willow, laid her tools on the plush grass, and focused on her goal. Swish, swish! Swoop! Dawn had broken through yet again, but she had finished. The drawing featured a shining collection of bright, white stars in the deep, dark sky. The edges of the paper bordered on violet. The dawn may have just risen in the girl's eyes.
Her eyes were, as a matter of fact, very blurry. She rubbed them furiously with her small fingers, and yawned loudly enough to reach the peak of the willow tree. Her final act that day would be to organize her art. She now had eleven: three of the grass, three of the ocean, two of the sky, one of her left hand, one of her parents, and one of the midnight stars. She placed them in a neat row.
"Did the stars just shine?" the girl was too tired to study her latest work. She was snoring within a few seconds. A few feet away, her father offered his wife a morning dance. She accepted. So he brought her into the painted stars and began to slowly swing with her.
When the girl would undoubtedly wake again, she would notice that one of her portraits was a bit too empty, and another a bit too full. The former would only hold a yellow sun and blank shadows. In the latter, the girl's parents would be dancing in her watercolor beauty of shimmering stars.