A Picture

A thousand word, experimental short story

I find myself out of the situation. Placed not in the brightly lit classroom, but in a pool of thought, watching one fade in as others fade out. Watching the red glint of attraction fade at my feet. It seeps into the earth, which is white and sandy. I wonder where it goes. Maybe it digs through the earth, finding a place where it belongs. Maybe it will hide for now, until I look back up and try to hold it down with the sole of my shoe, keeping it buried forever. I miss it already.

“Are you, um, okay?” he asks. I look over. Forcing my smile back into the position it longs for. It’s hard to do. It shouldn’t be hard to do. He can tell. I nod. He nods. We nod together. This would be a great time to change the subject, to whisk us away, out of the awkward silence into a place where everyone else usually resides in. It’s hard to move planes. We flip our existence with the opening of my mouth.

“Do you want to get dinner after this?” I ask. The lights almost flicker with the energy emitting from this conversation. I take a staggered breath in. My feet move, blocking the feelings emerging from the ground with his smile. His sad eyes light up. I can hardly contain myself. We sit statically.


The entire time we walk to dinner all I can imagine is me kissing him. As he speaks all I can hear is our united breaths. Pushing him against his twin bed, pulling his shirt down, fingers bent in lust, dragging themselves to his belt. His nervous heart beating against my chest as I try to pretend it’s all a dream. It is all a dream, though. I wonder if he knows what I’m thinking about. It’s pretty dark outside, I doubt my eyes are visible.

Dinner is pale and dry. I twist the spoon in the soup. He laughs awkwardly. He is a thin mess of anxiety and home problems, laced with money and silence. His eyes are droopy and sad and make my heart flutter. He looks down at his food and smiles. The world fades away, sinks below us. We sit in the void, white and incomplete. I give him a hand. It sits there, outstretched. Then he takes it. And with the single touch the void explodes into a wonderlust of colours, all encasing the floating entities we call ourselves. Our eyes lock, his sad and mine regular. And he pulls me in, brave and impulsive.

“What?” I wasn’t listening. The beautiful void shatters, broken stained-glass shards land in my soup.

“Just- I was just wondering if you were going to that party later.”

“I usually don’t go to loud parties. Are you going?”

“Well,” He shrugs. I know what he’s going to say. I wonder if he can tell I know. Probably not. He’s not even looking at me. “I was going to go if some friends were, I don’t know. I hear they have good music.”

“We should go.” I say before I can stop myself. I know he’s happy, but a piece just broke off of me. I look down at the tiled ground at watch it fall, shattering too. I start to bend down and pick it up, but he clears his throat.

“Yeah, sure, let’s go.”

I try and absorb some of the excitement leaking into the airspace between us.

The music floats around as the people move in slow motion. Slowly, they jump up. Hair is flying, gravity is nonexistent. Bright purples streamline towards me, swarming around. Pinks and blues find their way from the ceiling, raining down into my hands. The massive crowd all start to fall as the beginnings of a drum ring in my heart, brown and black dots. I breathe out, purple air floating into the soundscape. The crowd all fall with a thud. A bright blue green guitar riff slams into me. I step backward into him.

“Woah,” I barely hear over the music. He steadies me, hand on my arm. I suddenly realize how warm it is.

“It’s really warm in here.” I shout, voice dissolving into nothing before it reaches him.

“What?” he screams. A drum solo falls onto us, dark and inky. We collapse into the oil spill. Everything is dark and vacant. I swim toward him. His face is smeared with ashes. We stand together in the desolation.

“Let’s get out of here,” his mouth says. I nod. We swim toward land.

The victorian couch is shabby and broken. People walk around us, wobbly and crazed with the party. We sit in the savannah, watching the beasts in their natural habitat. I wipe the sweat from the African heat off my forehead. In the distance a lion roars. I nod. It understands my heart.

“It was good music, though,” he continues. I smile, nodding, noticing how close we sit together. Our fingers could touch. My heart pounds with the possibility. I look out to the wild and see a gazelle running from a leopard. He inches closer, the couch gives way as he moves. I look back to him. The sad eyes call my name. Don’t look back. I can’t help myself. I have to look. Only my eyes move back to the scene. The leopard reaches the gazelle. She was no match. She is dead.

The stars shine around us. I try to smile. It’s even harder than before. My body wants to step off the porch, step into whatever paradise waits for me on some other side, some side of greener grass and pointer fencing. He takes his hand off the fence.

“I’ll see you around,” he says, waving, walking away.

The entire world shifts as I open the door.

She greets me with a smile, redder than the sandy ground.

And she brings me in.

I close my eyes.

Then we kiss.

I notice it’s colourless.


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