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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Shorty--Art Class

Our first bit of flash fiction comes to us from Liza. Thanks for playing with us! If you want you can check out her blog after commenting on her flash fiction.

I'm still working on my story, and if you are too, send it in when you're ready. Send it to unicornbellsubmissions@gmail.com with Shorty in the subject.

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Art Class

The scissors dug into her back pocket.  Natasha pulled at the hem of her tunic to cover the bulge.  There would be no time for fumbling.  When the moment arrived, she’d have to make one fluid movement, a subtle flick incorporating a stab and a twist like the one she’d practiced for two weeks in front of her bedroom mirror.  She’d rehearsed it with her eyes closed—reaching back for the handle. Whipping the shears out she’d parried like a fencer, assaulting the imaginary canvas, jerking the point down, before sliding the weapon into her front pocket. She’d planned her exit too. Hands behind her back, she’d stroll the length of the hall pondering each of her classmate’s paintings. Then she’d move on to the sculpture exhibit.  That would be the hard part, remaining in the art center after defacing Abigail’s blue-ribbon winner.

Daughter of a master, Abigail had more aptitude in a fingernail than Natasha would experience in her lifetime.  Could anyone understand the agony of always finishing second to an artist whose gift came unbidden—whose talent wasn’t driven by anything related to hunger or desire? How many times she’d heard someone compliment her rival, only to watch the girl shrug and roll her eyes.  “Sure. Whatever,” she’d say.  “Who wants to go rollerblading?  Wait.  I’ve got a better idea.  A friend’s going skydiving today.  Let’s watch.”  She’d wink. “If he’s got a harness maybe I’ll see if he'll tandem.”

Natasha always opted out, preferring to mash burnt umber into white, teal into sienna, striving to mirror the hue of the golden trees outside the window as they passed from summer to fall.  This time, a scholarship hung in the balance.  With her mother’s wealth, Abigail didn’t need it.  Yet, the picture she’d painted stunned everyone. A girl, sitting on a cloth-draped sofa, the light on her face ethereal, wisps of hair highlighted in the afternoon sun. Natasha’s abstract landscape earned kudos too, but she had no illusions.  Abigail would win the prize and Natasha’s time in art school would come to an end. Flat broke, she’d have to find a job.  She swallowed unfairness like bile.
Now, sweat coated her back as she stood absorbing the unplumbed depths of Abigail’s painting, the subject’s eyes, hard, pained, waiting and clearly wanting.  It was a shame really.  Quashing a pang of regret, she glanced over one shoulder, then the other.  Inhaling she reached for the scissors.  Plunging them into the canvas, she withdrew her arm, stuck the tool into her front pocket, counted to fifteen and moved on, just the way she’d practiced.

Twenty minutes later she stared sightless at Turner Elliot’s bronze sculpture.  A soft arm slid around her waist.  Natasha froze.  “I took myself out of the running for the scholarship,” Abby said, pointing behind her.  “I adored painting this one, though.  It bled through me.  Oh Tash, how I envy you. Finally, I understand your passion.”


I loved the emotion in this story, the desperation. The story gives us glimpses of the history between the two characters, shows us what's at stake, shows us the choice Natasha made and carried out and then a great ending. 

What do you think?

6 comments:

jabblog said...

I understand Natasha's desperation and her actions but the ending caught me by surprise. The scholarship will be doubly painful for her now. A lovely short story that could be an excerpt from a longer one.

mshatch said...

I liked this, esp. the ending.

Carol Kilgore said...

I like this story. The two girls just developed a new respect for each other.

Bish Denham said...

Jealously can do such unnecessary things. The ending took my breath away. Excellent.

Stephanie said...

Very nice twist at the end. Was not expecting that, but then I also didn't expect her to go through with destroying the painting. Bravo!

Lynda R Young said...

oh wow, this is a great story and the ending has great impact.