A Little Halloween Story
Early this year, my local writers’ group and an artists’ group combined forces for an event entitled – Pen and Paint. The writers visited the art studio and chose a number then discovered which painting they were to write a flash fiction for. We did not know who our artist was, nor what the painting was called or what it was about. We could ask questions like – is this an oil painting? or - was this done with a brush or palette knife?, but no specific questions about the work.
Reveal Day was at the local library. The paintings were set up and artist and writer met. A fabulous lady, Carole Jeghers was the artist I had been paired with. My first impression when I saw her painting was joy. I knew I could write something delicious.
The writers were to create a 750-word piece inspired by the painting. We did not have to interpret the painting, just let our creativity free.
If interested in more of Carole’s work - CaroleJeghers.com
The Darker Side of Light
He haunts my dreams. The black sunken eyes. They follow me.
I see them at work. In my reflection. Lifelessly staring at me.
The look of shock. Lips pulled back. Teeth bared.
Wanting to scream.
Blood spattered on his cheek. The mirror. Its trails leaving artistic images on the glass. A work of art. Created by… us. My beginning. His ending.
It was wrong. I am wrong. He is not here. I shouldn’t be here. Why does he stare? He can’t stare. He doesn’t exist.
Yet — he stares at me.
A laugh builds inside. It threatens to bubble out in a maniacal scream. I mustn’t let it. This is my secret.
I know how to make him disappear.
Grabbing a canvas. My brush. Tubes of paint. Scarlet Red. Ultra Blue. Yellow Ochre.
Mix it. Mix it. Mix it all.
A dab of blue. Yellow. Red. Colour’s not right. More red.
Why does it look like blood?
With my palette knife, I scrape and smear paint against the canvas. The oily smell of the paint mixing with the thoughts running through my mind.
My nerves are jumbled. A voice speaks. You are bad. He was bad. He needed to die.
My knife clatters to the floor. I grab the sponge and smear it across the canvas. The red bleeds into the black. The white trails across the grey.
Black. Carbon black. His eyes. Round circles with small pupils. They see me. They see into my soul. They know the truth.
I try to hide. Frenzy overwhelms me.
Grey smear scratched with the knife. Paint splashes on me. Blue dribbles down my arm. Like the blood on his face.
I wipe my arm. My thumb slides on the splotch of paint, pressing a trail of Indigo down my flesh.
Stepping back, I pause. The mirror. His face. My face looking away. Ignoring his existence. My mouth is wrong. Clawing at the paint, I scrape it away.
Wide. As if I were screaming.
I want to.
No. Others will hear it. This is my secret.
My little secret.
I draw a bubble. That is my scream escaping. Letting the world hear my terror. A silent scream that only I know how loud it is.
My gaze is caught by the eye. My blue eye glaring outward. Burning into my soul. I want to dig it out. Wrench it from my face. Swaths of black smeared over the canvas, burying the eye. Blinding it to see.
I don’t want to see what I have done.
One final touch. Two red slashes. They mark me. They speak the truth. Will the world be able to read it? Will anyone?
I am alone.
My jaw lowers. My red lips peel back. My scream releases. I laugh.
Hiccup. And scream again.
My laughter eats at my soul. I can’t stop.
Detective Connors stood before the painting, rocking on her heels. Art hadn’t been her strongest subject in school. A bowl with fruit had been her finest effort, and that only granted her a B minus. A painting with sunshine, a tree and grass, maybe a red and white checkered blanket, that she could understand. But this?
This was dark.
The colours muted.
The hatred palatable.
The face jeered at her. The eyes trying to speak. What was she supposed to understand?
She stepped back.
The mirror covered with spatters and ribbons of paint, like blood trails. The two faces in a book, one looking at her, the other turned away blinded. Two mouths. The first with lips open as if it wanted to speak. Wanting to tell her what happened. But couldn’t.
The other mouth, opened wide, bellowing - raging out the truth. Only she could not hear the words.
The detective held back the urge to shout, “Speak to me!” Instead, she stared at the dead eyes that glared back at her.
Minutes pass, but she still she stood before the painting. Impatient feet shuffled behind her. She ignored them. She needed to hear what this painting had to say.
The red X. It marked only one face. Red X in school meant another wrong answer.
Was this person wrong?
Or was it simply X marks the spot?
Darkness and confusion transformed into light.
The detective turned. “Arrest her. And take the painting. The confession is all there.”
Happy Halloween everyone.