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The letter was clutched in strong fingers which, had they belonged to a lesser man, might have been trembling.

Application successful.

It wasn't happiness or elation that he felt. There was a vindication that scratched on the edges of his thoughts, but the only thing really resonating in his mind was, 'what now?' It was the first time in a long while since he had heard anything beside the scornful echoes of his father's words.

It was a dream.

Almost a decade had passed since they'd been said. He'd shyly expressed his fondness for art as a schoolboy, and his father had promptly crushed his meek hopes with an iron tongue. "Fool," he had said. "Dreamer, head in the clouds." He'd laughed then, coarse and cruel. "You'd never make it." And the next semester his star-gazer of a son had been enrolled into technical school.

It started with death.

Standing cold and numb as his father was buried, it was his mother that convinced him to apply that first time with her soft words of encouragement and warm embraces to heal a broken will. So he'd sent in to the art school of his young aspirations, and he'd received his reply.

"Unfit for painting," they said. "Not artist material."


It was when he stood once again with the mourning bells in his ears that those words came back. Mama's eulogy was read, his life faded away, and he was left just another penniless orphan in the world. Alone, nobody, just a stupid little kid.


He managed as well as he could, smearing canvases with whatever he scrapped together and flogging them for as much people would cough up. He couldn't hate the crippling rent notices when they were posted, such harmless scraps of paper with the landlord's latest ultimatum. But he could hate himself.

Head in the clouds.

The words clawed through his brain, tearing at his every thought. The second application was shoved in a mailbox like a live grenade; he'd show himself, he'd show them how wrong they were.

You'd never make it.

The assessment period crawled past, day after day, and he sat and thought. He thought about the look on papa's face, the look on everyone's face. But even as waited for his answer he was already thinking of greater things. He would do more than they ever imagined, he would change the world.

Application successful.

"Passion," they said this time. "Spirit, soul. You have it."

He'd won, and all he felt was numb.

Application successful.

He thought again, then, about the father who didn't see him for who he was, about proving to everyone what he could be. He could achieve the dreams of the whole planet, he could slaughter his way to the top and wield power like a brush dipped in kerosene. But there were other thoughts too—memories, of his mother telling him to follow his heart, of his own imaginings of himself. Not a leader, not a fighter, just a creator. An artist.

There were two roads before him, and it was almost audible in the silent apartment as one crumbled to dust.

It was a dream.

He put the letter down with a smile, and turned to his canvas.

31 Years Later—September 1, 1939

Thick oak doors banged open as the President of Germany stepped through into his newly-built office. The opening of the new parliamentary building was a symbol of change and achievement for the government, which had been struggling its slow way upward since coming into power after the Great War. Wandering eyes drifted over the light cream walls, taking in the spacious room before falling onto the painting that hung over the mahogany desk. He stopped dead in his tracks with a jolt.

It is said that sometimes one single thing, one tiny single unimportant thing...

The image was abstract, distorted, a winged creature in flight with a daintiness in its features yet a darkness that lingered beneath. There was something in those bold brush strokes, something intangible and not quite there, accompanied by the icy shiver of barely-lost potential. But as soon as the feeling came it was gone, leaving only the rich-coloured room and the echoes of the hopes and promises that built it.

...could kill thousands with a disaster on the other side of the world...

"That painting there," he asked his aide, "who is the artist?"

"Oh, a graduate of the  Academy of Fine Arts Vienna," the aide replied. "I believe his name is Adolf Hitler."

...or not.

"He's good with a brush," the president said simply, striding to his seat, ready to lead his country on its path to greatness.

And it ended with life.
Adolf Hitler applied twice at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, actually rejected both times. September 1, 1939 was the day World War II officially started.

This was written for an English class for a "journey" topic. Bit of an experimental style. Feedback is greatly appreciated.

EDIT April 28 2012: My third DLD! [link]

Add a Comment:
stormspanner Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2013
First I was confused, and then it all snapped and it's like OH I see it now, and I get the title, and it's all falling into place and it's excellent. 
elexti Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your amazing deviation has been selected for feature this week at :iconaus-art: here: [link]

Thanks, and we look forward to seeing more from you! :)
NotenSMSK Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
This was a beautiful piece :) I rarely read prose that skips a page down but this had me reading and I have to say it is very well put :) Good job!
DailyLitDeviations Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2012
Your wonderful literary work has been chosen to be featured by DLD (Daily Literature Deviations) in a news article that can be found here [link]
Be sure to check out the other artists featured and show your support by :+fav:ing the News Article.

Keep writing and keep creating.
Treo-LeGigeo Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2012   Writer
Thank you very much!
Doodelay Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2012  Student Writer
This is a concept that has been thoroughly explored but poorly executed time and time again.

However, this piece insights the spark that other pieces lack.

Good job, great ending. I love how leisurely the president is upon seeing the sight.
IllNeverBeDead Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2012
I've often thought about this... what might have happened if he'd actually been accepted to art school and become an artist. It's sort of mindblowing.
This is awesome. Well-written and definitely thought-provoking.
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