His fingers worked slowly—and sometimes fast. The speed didn’t matter, what they were achieving was important. He raised his head again; looked at tall, curved spires and smiled. He knew they were not golden, it was the colour of ochre, but he saw gold. Why? He never knew. He looked down, beyond the barrier, at the river. The water was dark brownish with a purplish hue, an unfortunate result of pollution, but he saw purple, dark purple, deep purple and that’s how he painted it. He put the brush between his teeth and took another, finer, to finish a spire. He worked carefully for he knew if he made a mistake he wouldn’t be able to undo it. It was not a tablet plugged into a computer, no undo button here. That’s why he preferred it this way. He never made a mistake. Even if a stroke was not what he wanted to achieve, somehow, in a magical way, it always fit. As if something drew his hand and knew better what should be on his canvas. “Would you please stop twisting left?” he asked the brush in his hand, closing it to his eyes and looking at its tip with a frown. “You make my work very difficult, y’know.” Some passers-by turned back to look at him. Their faces expressed clearly what they were thinking about a young man who talked to a brush. He shrugged. It wasn’t against the law to talk to a brush, was it? Forget about the brush. Forget about the passers-by. There is a perfection in front of you. A perfection of shapes, colours and shadows. A city with a soul. A city that grew on top of another city. He wished he could see the historic Hebitian city. Ruins were not the same thing, although in his mind’s eye he has seen it. He wished he could paint it but the details were still escaping him. He needed to wait, to be patient and allow his imagination to work out what the eyes couldn’t see. His eyes went to a broadcast screen on the nearest building. Did he want to include that glinn’s face in his painting? He certainly wanted the screen itself for it was an oval—the perfect geometrical figure. Ovals represented the never-ending sacrifice: top and bottom were peaceful, quiet and comfortable periods of life, curved left and right were the points when a Cardassian had to make a decision, a choice between comfort with guilty conscience and suffering for good of someone else, be it Cardassia or your brother, didn’t matter. Points of change. Points of proving what kind of a man a Cardassian was. Points of no return. He started to paint the oval of the broadcast screen but the glinn’s face never appeared inside it. He painted a miniature of the painting itself and if he had a brush thin enough he would paint another in the mini-painting’s broadcast screen. Broadcast beauty, please. A life feed from the last wildlife reserve would be nice, thank you. How about a bird? He looked around the sky but it was empty. You lazy creatures, you prefer to float on the surface of purple water. For a short moment he considered forcing them to soar in the air but quickly changed his mind. Who was he to disturb their existence? Did he really need to see it with his eyes? A bird would be in the right position for a second, if at all. He switched brushes and looked at floating birds. They weren’t grey, were they? They were silver. Dark silver. Somehow, he really didn’t know how, they grew more majestic in his painting. Their tails became longer and had beautiful, colourful feathers. Their wings spread wide and they slid in the air. He could almost hear their warbling, although he knew the fellows on the water could squeak at best. He laughed, drawing attention of more passers-by. Some smiled to their thoughts and went their way. Some old man smiled to him before resuming his leisure walk. He looked back at the city before him. He knew he always saw it differently than others. He never knew why but that was the fact. And he enjoyed that fact! Tolkar Saratt returned to work already having a title for his painting: Eternal City . Wasn’t it adequate?