First draft: Artist

He stares at the brush, at the row of primary coloured paint pots on the table in front of him. Ask him to cover a wall in magnolia and he knows what to do. Tell him to paint on paper and he is floored. Flawed. That’s why he’s here, flaws too large to cover with paint or paper, no amount of filler will…

“Go on. Paint whatever you want.”

He doesn’t want, stopped wanting months back, maybe years. She holds it out to him, chubby handled wooden brush, fine bristles metal bound, OT written in black marker in case he wants to take it out of the room. Wants. He doesn’t know what he wants. He’s still staring at the brush when she comes round again, places her hand on his, warm on cold, her soft skin on his callouses. A shiver runs through him.

“Which colour?” she asks, but she’s already guiding the brush to the yellow. “Just make a mark. It’s sometimes the first stroke that’s the hardest. Just let it flow from there.” And the paint trails from the brush, down the side of the pot, across the table and the paper is instantly marred. If there had been something that he had wanted to paint, it would have to fit with the fresh streak of sunshine that has been forced upon the page. Not his mark, and she’s moving on now, talking to the man across the room who has clearly been before. He is working on a half started canvas, making purple marks that, if he squints, might be flowers.

He stares at his page, paint continuing it’s sprawl without his input, drips falling from the brush. Spoilt.

“What about some blue?”

She’s back, and he pushes into her touch this time, until she forces the sunshine brush into the pot of blue, yellow smears into the pristine darkness.

“No!” He jerks his hand away, brush still in blue, jar teetering, tipping. Blue paint spreads, runs to the edge of the table and he backs away, chair scraping until he stands and it falls. She’s looking at him. The flower painter has paused to look too, brush in the air and Sam’s gaze is suspended as the purple paint pools on the end of the brush, until enough has moved to form a drop which falls, and movement starts again

“I’ll get a cloth,” she says. “Never mind. Accidents happen.”

He stands as she wipes.

“It’s okay. Just a spill.

Look, I’ve cleared it up.

Try again.

Do you want a clean piece of paper?”

The phrases brush the surface of his mind, and he watches her put a blank sheet on the table. She doesn’t try to put a brush in his hand this time, doesn’t try to touch him again. He’s still standing, can’t sit, can’t be here, can’t listen to her encouraging murmurs which build until he lunges forwards, swipes at the paint until the pots spin across the table, paint flies, crimson drips falling to the floor, on his hand, his shirt, as he stumbles back and the chair seizes at his ankles. He crumples and all he can see is red.


4 thoughts on “First draft: Artist

  1. This is so engaging. I really enjoyed reading it and I love how the only colour that really matters is the one at the end. It is great to see you back on Prose for Thought. Thank you for linking x

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