The painting in front of which the two children stood was awash in colors of black and rust, with splashes of red, and was a montage of well-drawn images. In the center stood a man, his foot on a copy of the Constitution of the United States of America. He was dressed in a shirt embroidered with many words, among them, “women’s rights”. He was smiling and waving to five happy men with turbans on their heads as they flew away to freedom. His back was to a woman being lashed one hundred times by a man resembling the ones flying to freedom. A noose hung slightly ahead of the woman. Her small child and newborn baby, held back by others, watched the scene. Over two hundred school girls sitting silently and guarded by soldiers with guns also watched.
In the upper left side was a scene of an embassy, lying in charred ruins. Four skeletons lay at its base. Slightly below that scene were guns, many guns with legs, running fast and furious toward a Mexican sombrero. One dead man in uniform lay between the guns and the sombrero.
Giant forms and tax records had been molded into iron gates to restrict some citizens from moving freely. A pregnant woman with hair the color of snow, each strand banded with jewelry that spelled ‘fear’ was giving birth to cameras and listening devices so numerous that they spilled out of the birthing room, down the hallway, and out the doors of the hospital where she lay. A picture of the hospital she had wanted to use instead hung from her limp hand. A giant eye in the corner of the frame seemed to follow onlookers, in this case, the two children, regardless of the angle from which they observed the painting.
A school building was marred by graffiti, with CC in bulging, garish letters. Tests were stacked neatly on each desk, while textbooks lay scattered on the school rooms’ floors. The school’s entryway held a picture of a gun with a line through it. Two dots on the top and a half-circle on the bottom made it into a happy face.
Reporters in a busy newsroom stood against a wall while a few important looking people looked through their phone records and emails, patiently crossing out whatever did not suit them.
Throughout the painting in small, nearly imperceptible drawings, was something else. Sprinkled all throughout the scenes was something like golden dust. Tiny images though they were, they drew the children’s eyes to them. A soldier stood stick straight, talking to the few who would listen. A woman bent down to help some fearful children and gave them sweet pieces of fruit with wrappers labeled ‘truth’. Some people were on their knees, their hands lifted in prayer. There were many, many images of many small, good things. It seemed, almost, that the painting pulsated with the golden dust; the tiny pictures growing more numerous and larger at times, then fading again to their infinitesimal size.
And the two children watched while the museum visitors around them toasted the great building’s success.