Natalie was stoked! She was totally prepped to start her next painting and this one was gonna be a doozie! Man! She hadn’t created something in so long, just running her fingers through the soft mongoose hair of her limited-edition fan brush made her arms break out in gooseflesh.
She knew this piece would be a work of art. She could feel it. Standing there, smelling the fresh paint, staring at the blank canvas, the feel of the brush handle solid, anticipating, she felt...elated! It was the only word that worked.
Natalie didn’t know why it had been so long since she’d allowed herself this pleasure, but it had been years. She guessed maybe the itch - for want of a better word - just hadn’t been there. Maybe creativity was like the moon - waxing and waning, coming and going? Except, she supposed, without the clockwork regularity. But now it didn’t matter why. She had everything she needed right in front of her and was ready to begin.
With a deep breath, she dipped her largest choice flat brush in, and, on the exhale, swiped a violent slash of red across the stark white canvas. She stood back to admire her work. It was breathtaking! The contrast of that red, so deep, so vibrant, against the white was...well...she couldn’t explain how it made her feel. Almost wanton. Sexual. But the release was not enough. She definitely wasn’t done yet.
She dipped the brush again and made another mark on the canvas. This one slightly more focused. Straighter. Stronger. Less abstract. Bolder. Where it crossed with the original slash it darkened in a pleasing way.
For a few minutes, Natalie put the brush down and simply stood back to stare. She knew what she was doing. She knew what it should look like and so far she was absolutely hitting her intended mark.
Her round face broke into a brilliant smile.
She was suddenly caught up in the frenzy of it. Ah! She remembered this. This frantic need to get it all out. To get the image or the idea onto canvas, out of her head. Do make the colors do all the work. She began to sweat with the effort. It was a dance. A long forgotten, but well choreographed dance. Anyone watching would have been fascinated; mesmerized. Just as the red began to take over the canvas completely, she stopped. Swiped at her brow with the back of a red hand. She needed to let some white show through - but just a little.
The dark color was next. She picked up her thinnest line brush and dipped it skillfully into the cup. A careful, thin line of darkness, which was not exactly black, appeared. A similar frenzy took over as she used that dark color to express what she was feeling. Fire and brimstone! The work was exhausting, but savagely captivating.
When Natalie finally finished she simply stopped, like someone had flicked her off-switch. Her arms fell to her sides, the sweat poured from her forehead, dripped off her nose and slid in warm rivulets down the middle of her back. The brush fell to the floor from her slack fingers.
She stared. It was a masterpiece! She hadn’t created anything like this, ever in her life. Except...well...maybe this was similar to the last time. She’d almost forgotten. But it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered anymore. Just this piece of art. Oh! She was going to be a millionaire! That red looked like the color of money and she could almost taste it.
Actually, since she was splattered with it, she was tasting it. And it was good. Just a little zing on her tongue.
Finally, she snapped out of her fugue. She squatted gracefully to retrieve the dropped paintbrush from the floor and stood to begin her clean-up process. It was a ritual, really. She’d prepared by covering the entire sun room floor with an opaque plastic sheeting. She always got color over everything. It was just less messy this way.
After she’d removed the canvas from the easel and put it aside, she took the cup of dark color and walked to an old metal pail in the corner by the back door. She upended the little cup and watched as a sickly greenish black oozed out. She watched it slowly drip from one vessel to the other until no more drops fell. Hypnotized. Then, once the cup was as empty as she could make it, she simply dumped the cup into the pail, too.
Then, she walked back to the easel and removed that. She tucked it away behind the door.
After the easel was safely stored, she turned to her brushes. She’d paid hundreds of dollars for them about five years ago and they were her most prized possession. They were custom made, just for her. The mongoose hair bristles were - from what she knew - the best money could buy, therefore, she knew they were exactly what she needed to create her pieces. She felt sad for them that they’d been so neglected lately. But, she’d discovered her passion again, and therefore felt sure she would use them more often.
The only thing left to clean up was the body. He’d been stripped and flayed, and placed on a an old stainless steel autopsy table next to her easel. Easy access for the red she needed. It was the only way she could find that particular color. She had tried over and over again to mix synthetic colors to find just the right red, but she’d been unsuccessful. The last time - oh, that last time - she’d gotten so angry when time after time the color just wasn’t right! She still couldn’t feel sorry for her boyfriend. He deserved what he’d gotten after interrupting her color experiments. But, at least she’d discovered how to get the right red.
She grinned at the memory - coming back strongly now - and she began to peel the corners of the plastic sheeting away from the edges of the room. Provided she tucked everything in properly, she could dispose of the body tonight and no one except she would be the wiser.
~ by Jennifer Shell (2016) (Not to be copied, used or reproduced without permission.)
Note from me (the author): More than once, I've been asked, "Why do you write about such awful things?" The answer: I don't know...because I can, I guess. I've always been fascinated by the gruesome, macabre, bizarre, unnatural, supernatural, etc.. I spent a good portion of my pre-teen and teenage years reading authors like Dean Koontz and Stephen King (or, Richard Bachman, if you prefer) and yes, they definitely directed my tastes in books. Though those kinds of things aren't all I read, they are my preference. My love of all things weird, scary, and creepy has yet to fade.