“[R]eal painters do not paint things as they are…They paint them as they themselves feel them to be.” – Vincent van Gogh, died at the age of 37 on the 29th of July 1890. Shot himself in the chest.
Theo thought about his brother’s last words.
“This sadness will last forever….”
Theo didn’t cry. Those tears had dried up a long time ago, long before his unfortunate brother decided to take his own life – the tears that used to stream down his face every time he read his brother’s letters. All those times when he wished he could have understood him rather than have pitied him.
600 letters. And Theo read every single one of them – except one.
One strange letter that he had refused to open. He received it a day after Vincent’s death.
The strange part was, that it was from Vincent.
Everyone knew that letters didn’t arrive immediately, but he was very sure that his brother had already lost the ability to write a few weeks before he committed suicide.
And yet,when he received this letter, his brother’s perfect handwriting showed clearly on the envelope.
To Theo, my brother.
Theo dropped the letter as if it was some sort of hoax. It was impossible! His brother was mad to the bone when he had visited him last. He didn’t want it. He didn’t want to open it. He loved Vincent too much and he couldn’t bear it. He was trying to forget. All those years of torment that his brother went through.. because he felt it too. That innocent young boy who just didn’t know what the future held for him.
And so, the letter was locked away and never to be seen.
37 years later, the letter remained. Intact and perfect albeit for a thin layer of dust that had settled quietly over time, locked away in a secret drawer in a distant room waiting for a key.
37 years later, a young man walks in with a strange key. He has bright orange hair and a ginger beard. In he walked, wearing a strange straw hat and a shabby pair of pants. His shoes were all dirty and his shirt was all in tatters.
His life was a mess or so he had thought. His brother was dead and his money all gone. He didn’t know what happened exactly, just the fact that he appeared in this house with this strange old key. But somehow, he knew what he had to find – a strange old letter from a friend of mine, he thought.
And as he searched for the drawer he was destined to unlock. A strange feeling came over him, was it fear? Was it shock? Because as he opened the letter with shaky hands, he realized something he knew he shouldn’t have.
‘ Dear Theo,
I am well. I am cured. I feel like a whole new man. I’m different and happy. I’m ready. I’m prepared for change. Like a caterpillar awaiting a metamorphosis.
Thank you, my brother, for you have done me well. A thousand thanks will never be enough for the great debt that I have now to owe you. You have told me once that you have many sources. All those doctors were of no use… Except for one.
The raggedy doctor saved me, Theo. He changed me. He and his beautiful companion, a young lady with bright orange hair, very similar to mine. They both came to me, like angels from heaven. They brought sight to my blinded eyes. I can see now. I can see through the madness that had taken over me for far too long.
I’m a wonderful person, Theo. I’m destined for greatness. The angels proved it to me. They took me in their flying box, they took me to the future. People love me, Theo. And for once, I love myself for it.
I’m different now, my brother. I shall keep painting. Art is my passion. It is my livelihood. I have no children. I don’t need any. I have my artwork.They bring me enough joy to last a lifetime. I’m so happy and content.
I painted sunflowers today. I hate sunflowers. I loathe them, but Amy said they were her favorite and so, I let them light up my life as it did for hers. Sunflowers for Amy. Bright and orange just like our hair. I love her, Theo and I hope to see her someday.
And now as I sit here in my lonely room, I can’t help but think of her. Every time the vast blanket of midnight stretches across the sky and the bright beautiful stars come to life, I think of her. The brilliant blue reminds me of the mysterious flying craft they travelled in. They are strange folks but they are still friends. My only friends besides you, brother.
And honestly, I tell you with all my heart, that for once in this horrible, tormented life of mine, I don’t feel so alone in this world, brother.
This is the best day of my life.
25th April 1890
The letter slipped from the man’s hands and fell unceremoniously onto the floor. A scene not so unfamiliar if one went back 37 years ago.
I’m dead, he thought. I’m supposed to be dead.
It didn’t need to be mentioned in the letter. It just came to him like a calling. One somehow always knew how one was going to die. Vincent was a person who had always considered it. There was no point anyway. He was broke. He had no friends. People threw stones at him. He hadn’t eaten since a few weeks ago. He had no life to live.
There was a moment of confusion.
Then, the door creaked open and in walked a strange man. He had the most unusual attire. A strapping coat and a bow tie. A fashion he would only know of in another 20 years from now.
And yet, he seemed to know this man from a somewhat half remembered dream.
“I’m the Doctor. You may have heard of me.” the man said lightly as he stretched his hand forward.
Vincent chose to ignore it. He decided that this was the infamous Doctor that was mentioned countless of times in the so called letter that was written by his own hand.
There was an awkward silence.
“I don’t understand,”Vincent finally blurted, in a rather hopeless tone. He rubbed his temples with his fingertips, massaging away the pain that was suddenly invading his mind.
“Don’t worry. You will, eventually,” the doctor replied rather coolly, much to Vincent’s frustration.
The doctor seemed to notice this and decided to proceed.
“You see, that letter was written by yourself four months before you recklessly decided to take your own life. I’m trying to save you. Again. The first time was Amy’s idea. We took you to the future. We showed you how much people actually appreciated your work. How much people want you. That explains the letter. You were happy.”
“Why am I here?” Vincent asked quietly trying to hide the tears in his voice. He knew this wasn’t the real reason. There was something else. There was ALWAYS something else.
The doctor turned and looked him in the eye. A soft reassuring look. Everything is going to be alright. You’re a good man. A talented man. You’re worth so much more.
“I took you here. I took you here to read that letter that was meant for your brother. He didn’t read it, mind you. I knew you had the key to that drawer. It was yours. I want that drawer to be open when people come and try to find it in the next hundred years. I want that letter to be destroyed before anyone finds it.I want that drawer to be empty.”
“But why? It’s the only thing that reminds me of the happiness I had once experienced a long time ago.”
“I’m sorry, Vincent. It has to go. No one must know of the doctor. It will change the course of the never ending space time continuum!” the doctor said finally throwing his hands in the air.
The artist gave him an odd look.
The doctor sighed.
“Let’s just say the consequences will be really bad. Trust me, Vincent. It’s for your own good.”
” My own good? I will DIE.”
“ That was inevitable.”
Vincent stopped and looked at the man standing in front of him. He looked no older than he was – this strange man from strange worlds.
But somehow, he knew he was right. The eventualities were inevitable.
“Then let me keep it. I will burn it myself. Just let me savor it for one moment. Then you can take me back. Please.”
The doctor looked at Vincent apologetically but gave in slowly. After all, it was his fault it was all messed up in the first place. Well, throw in Amy and you get a REALLY big mess.
“Oh, alright but make it quick. We have less than 10 minutes,” said the Doctor, already making his way into the TARDIS.
“Wait!” Vincent shouted.
Doctor gave a quick glance behind his shoulder.
“I would like to go somewhere first. If you don’t mind.”
The doctor gave a quick nod and before Vincent knew it, he was standing next to a very familiar cypress tree. Cypress trees, he remembered them in a lot of his paintings.
“How did you know?” he asked softly.
The doctor merely smiled and stood next to the distraught artist – putting a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
” The doctor always knows.” he said with a twinkle in his eyes and with that, he left Vincent to ponder in his own thoughts.
“10 minutes!” the doctor reminded before stepping into the teleporting telephone box.
Vincent just nodded slowly and looked at the object at his feet.
VINCENT VAN GOGH (1853-1890)
THEODORE VAN GOGH (1857-1891)
Both buried side by side.
A wave of relief washed over him. He was glad to know he was spending the rest of eternity next to his brother. His only confidant. His only friend. His only family.
He slowly took the letter and put it next to is brothers tomb stone.
Let it be lost with the wind. It will be found if it is meant to be found, he thought.
Night time was reaching its peak and the cool gentle breeze caressed his cheeks. The cypress trees danced lazily in the moonlight.
And for a the shortest amount of time, Vincent smiled. A real smile. Happiness.
He looked at the stars and suddenly, he didn’t feel so alone.
Because he knew, there smiled his brother, Amy and himself. Looking down upon him.
The painter turned to find the doctor smiling gently at him.” Time to go.”
Vincent nodded and took a deep breath before making his way into the time traveling machine.
He was very aware that when he awakens the next day, he would have no recollection whatsoever as to what had happened. He would be the same old mad , mad Vincent Van Gogh….but, it didn’t matter. He knew he was greater than that. Greater than death. Greater then anything. He could see things no one else could see. He saw life as a tapestry of moving colours and death was only a break, not a dead end.
“Look above you! ” Vincent exclaimed as a wide toothy grin spread upon his lips. “It truly is a starry,starry night.”
The doctor, however, wasn’t looking at the stars, but at the young painter that stood next to him. A peculiar expression formed on his face – somewhere between amusement and sadness.
“You have no idea, my friend. No idea.”
200 years later ….
Royal Academy of London.
There lay a letter. A strange letter.
Exhibit: The last letter of Vincent Van Gogh.
It was received by Theo Van Gogh from his brother,Vincent, after Vincent’s funeral. The late Vincent Van Gogh’s letter is still preserved until today since it was found buried next to a row of cypress trees just behind the siblings’ tombs. The original sender of this letter remains unconfirmed but a rumour has it, that close friends of Theodore have mentioned him to be a rageddy looking man who calls himself the doctor.
(inspired by an episode from Doctor Who)
“Look at the sky. It’s not dark and black and without character. The black is, in fact deep blue. And over there: lighter blue and blowing through the blues and blackness the winds swirling through the air and then shining, burning, bursting through: the stars!And you see how they roar their light. Everywhere we look, the complex magic of nature blazes before our eyes.
It seems to me there’s so much more to the world then the average eye is allowed to see. I believe, if you look hard, there are more wonders in this universe then you could ever have dreamt of. “