Out of the Shadows, Pat Elliott

Happy Monday, beautiful book folk!

This afternoon, I have such a lovely treat for you all, because the superbly talented Pat Elliott is here on Becca's Books, debuting her newest painting titled 'Out of the Shadows'.  This painting is a very special one to me. I'm pretty sure we've all been the victim of bullying at one point or another in our lives. Mine was in primary school, and I'll always remember the bullies. Thankfully, our paths haven't crossed for years, and I haven't set eyes on any of them since, but seeing Pat's painting, and reading the story that came alongside it, definitely got me all teary. Pat, thank you so much for allowing me to share this painting and story with my readers. 

Without further ado, here is 'Out of the Shadows' painted by the wonderfully talented Pat Elliott, and the story that goes alongside it. Enjoy!

~ Out of the Shadows ~

They applaud. The noise is deafening.
I smile, inclining my head, known for my modesty. The glass trophy is handed to me and I hold it aloft. A short speech, thanking my Editor, my Publisher and the whole team of staff who help to make my professional novel, 'Out of the Shadows'. Forgetting no-one, because I value appreciating other human beings. Except for you. I never acknowledge you. You're there, always, but I never reference you. You have caused nothing but pain.
Back at my table, I place the trophy down, the bright lights coursing through it, throwing shadows. You're a shadow now. I try not to think of you. My life is brighter now, immeasurably happier, yet still in one dark corner of my mind, there is you. They say for every author, there is a dark stain on their heart, allowing them to draw on the pain necessary to garner sympathy for their characters. You are my dark stain. Do you even think of me? When you see me feted in newspapers, in magazines, do you think of me and remember the pain you caused? The pain I still feel.

 The school bell rings. The class squeals excitedly for break. There will be games in the playground. I am not excited, I hate sport. I prefer reading, so I take my book and hide in the farthest corner, under the shadow of the tree. It isn't far enough away from you. As you and your little gang approach, fear encircles my heart. You grip my arm, squeezing so hard that tears are forced from my eyes. 'See the little bookworm cry!' you laugh. Your gang laugh too. For me, there is only terror.
'I made you a present,' you say. 'Try it on!' There in your hand, is a small ring of barbed wire. My eyes widen and I try to back away. One of your cronies is behind me in a flash, gripping my shoulders so I cannot move. 'Come on, bookworm, you know you're married to your books. Here's your wedding ring!'
As you force it on my finger, the wire tears into my flesh, causing such pain. You laugh louder. Taking the book from my hands, you tear two pages out, ripping them to shreds and throwing them over me, as if they were confetti. I have hated you ever since. Hated you as you ran back to your stupid games, hated you as you kicked the football around the quad. I dreamt of kicking your head the same way.
My teacher sees the blood, takes my hand gently in hers and leads me to the nurse. They cut the wire ring from my finger and tend to the wounds. Crying, I tell them that you did it because I love books. When they shake their heads, I realise that you are deficient, not me. The teacher gives me a free pass to the library, every breaktime. You bother me no more. And yet, and yet, I do not escape from out of your shadow. You are the popular one, I the bookworm. You the team player, I the nerd. In my dreams, I see myself surrounded by people who want to know me. In reality, that is saved for you.


Until today. As we leave the awards, with all the fans queuing for my autograph, I spot you. There you are, in the queue, holding hands with a beautiful lady. When did you become a book lover? Did love make a reader of you? Anger is displaced by a humorous disbelief. As you reach the front of the queue, I show no sign that I remember you. 'Name?' I enquire. You give it, searching my face for a flicker of remembrance you will never find. I wonder if you've told your lady friend we went to the same school, claiming a cameraderie that never existed. Taking your copy of my book, I sign, 'Out of the Shadows, an author emerges'.
I can guarantee you'll never understand why – but I know. Oh yes, I know... and a certain little souvenir reminds me, to this day. A little barbed wire ring, snipped in the centre – but the shadow it casts when it rests on a book? That's a perfect heart. Today, seeing you, I have stepped from out of your shadow. You are nothing but the memory of a dark stain, for me to use at will. I am an author, beloved of many. 

Beautiful, right? What I love most about the painting is that Pat has added in some gorgeous personal touches, and if you look closely at the left side of the painting, you'll see the words 'bluebell' and 'hill', which of course make up the title of my debut novel 'Return to Bluebell Hill'. The story, the image of the thorns casting a perfect heart-shaped shadow across the book, it is just magical, and yes, one that I think many will be able to understand perfectly. 

Pat, thank you so much for sharing 'Out of the Shadows' here on Becca's Books. You truly are an incredibly talented painter, I don't I'll ever tire of seeing the images that you create!

You can find Pat Elliott on Twitter | patelliott.co.uk

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