Bourton & District

Short Stories Sept 2021

Slap!

Michi threw another clump of clay onto the growing amalgamation in front of him. He reached outwards to gather some of the material between warm fingertips and pulled it along the wires that jutted at various angles. From a distance, the skeletal structure looked vaguely humoresque in form. Twisting limbs bent themselves backwards at an uncomfortable angle while the ‘s’ curve of the body itself warped in a way that looked equally as discomforting. It was the shape of a human form that was too contorted to be natural. It was the bend of a body being created for sacrifice rather than embellishment. Raw, unnatural and terrifying. The way he often portrayed his artwork.

It was hard to get the angles of the skeleton just right with only clay, though. Build as he might on each layer, the roundness of the medium prevented the perfect ninety degree crease he was looking for. A hand reached up to wipe away some of the sweat on his palm, staining his already dirtied white tank-top in the pigment of the clay he had been handling. A frustrated curse fell from his lips as he bit the inside of his cheek. He twisted his fingertips in an effort to reform the edge he had just messed up by pressing his thumb a little too hard into the metal. God, he thought with a furrow of his jutting brow, clay was a bitch to work with.

It tested his skill as an artist even more than any painting or embroidery might on a casual occasion. Perhaps that was why sculpting was one of his favorite methods of expressing himself. He had to pay attention to where he built up the structure. One had to work hard to perfect the sharp turns and winding corners that he wanted to come to life.

Michi licked his lips as he bent forward, squinting closer to the clay as he tilted his head. The messy bun he wore did little to keep the curly strands of raven hair out of his eyes as they fell against his face. The position of his body covered up the light that shone from the single lamp that placed itself in the corner of his workspace. The shadows that it cast only served to make the process of creation even more onerous.

With an eventual sigh of defeat, Michi leaned back in his seat and stretched his arms above his hand, releasing the pressure on his back as he did so. One hand fell down to absently pick at the skin of his face, ripping over an already existing scab and popping an unwanted pimple in the process of its movements. The light sting of peeling skin was nothing he wasn’t used to. When his hands weren’t exercising creativity they were performing some dermatillomaniac idiosyncrasy or another to his own form.

Lazy grey eyes removed themselves from the growing sculpture in front of him in favor of traveling around his studio. Unfinished canvases dried out on the multiple work tables he had scattered about the room. Some of the shelves held previous sketches that had not yet been transformed into fully realized pieces. There was no inch of surface that wasn’t covered by at least one stray splotch of paint against it. Truly it was a center of organized chaos that only the mind of the artist working in it could understand.

Michi reached out to grab one of the canvases near him in hopes that its fresh perspective might renew his vigor for his current project. His eyes narrowed as he swept them across it, though, and he cursed with a frustrated keenness to his tone. Of course this was one of the canvases he had forgotten to label. It’s shades of blues and yellows all swirled together into a miasma of sameness that he could not decipher. There was no telling if each shade was truly brown or if it was red. If it was yellow or if it was green. Not without the sticky notes he often kept on the back of each canvas to remind him of the shades he had been previously using.

Man, Michi threw the canvas back onto the table in frustration, being colorblind sucked.

Reds were browns and greens were blues and yellows all looked like the exact same shade of yellow no matter how hard he had tried to learn the distinctive features between each of them. Michi could create beautifully colored pieces but never know which colors it was that he was using to build them up. Sure he could create pieces using only the colors he could see properly, but would those get too boring after days or months or years of painting them over and over again? Familiarity was boring and the urge to branch out into new artistic ventures often kept him from toying with the idea of singularity.

So instead he watched the painting with a furrow of his brow, exasperation welling inside of him as he grew more annoyed at the thought.

The door to his studio opened up with little warning, causing the artist to jump in his seat as he turned to see just who it was that had interrupted his artistic despair.

Michi’s face softened slightly at the sight of Alexys, the woman never failing to bring about a sense of calm in him as she grinned all-too widely to be innocent. She was up to something, that much was visible on her face. Her blue eyes sparkled with mischief and she made the movement of bouncing on the heels of her feet eagerly. Her arms hid something behind her back. He chewed on the inside of his cheek to prevent a small smile from forming on his lips.

“What do you want?” Michi wondered in the most casual voice he could manage, opening up one arm in a gesture for her to come closer.

Alexys came closer but did not accept the hug. Apparently it would get in the way of whatever it was that she was holding behind her back. Michi raised an eyebrow at his girlfriend but dropped his hand in a solemn gesture that made her smile grow even wider. If that was at all possible, considering it was stretched as far as it could go.

“I got you a gift.” Alexys chirped brightly, “And I think it’s something you’ll really like.”

“Unless it's more clay or a sculpt model for this thing- “ He gestured vaguely to the pile of unformed art in front of him - “It’s probably not gonna be anything I’ll jump up and down for.”

Alexys rolled her eyes and bit back a small laugh, the sparkle never faltering in her body as she stood directly in front of the other. Michi leaned back a little, resting one elbow on his table as he waited with moderate impatience for her to tell him just what it was she was holding. He had never been one for surprises, preferring to know the outcome of something as immediately yas possible. It was a bad habit, he supposed, but not one he was keen on changing in himself.

At last she pulled her hands in front of her. Resting in them was a single pair of glasses, their black frames sparkling pristinely while their tinted lenses stared forward into a void of nothingness. Michi stared at the pair of glasses for a moment before looking back up at Alexys with a confused look.

Alexys just kept smiling.

“They’re glasses.” Michi observed.

“They’re color correction glasses,” Alexys whispered eagerly back, “To correct colorblindness.”

The words made Michi’s heart jump into his throat. A strange sense of terror and awe overwhelmed his body in that single moment. He shoved his trembling hands in his jean pockets as he leaned forward to observe the glasses with a new interest. A shiver ran up his spine, but he could not tell if it was from apprehension or excitement. Perhaps it was a bit of both, he mused with a small smirk, as the reflection on his glasses glimmered distortedly back at him.

“You didn’t get these for me.”

“I did, so take them.”

There was another prompt pause before Michi extended his hands outwards. His fingers brushed the cool plastic for a moment before gripping them firmly. He opened up the glasses and observed them idly for a few more moments as he considered their use. As he realized just what it would mean to have them.

What would it be like to see colors he didn’t understand the concept of? How would it feel if he could finally know what red was? Or become familiar with the concept of purple? He swallowed hard around the lump in his throat (presumably still his heart that was stuck there) and looked at Alexys one more time.

Her gaze had turned softer now. It was more gentle than it was exciting. She was urging, but not forceful. It was a pleasant gaze to be sure enough, but it did not assuage Michi’s nerves. He took a deep breath, holding it in his chest as he slowly pushed the glasses over his eyes, resting them on the bridge of his nose. His shoulders tensed and his jaw clenched as he waited for the world to change.

He hadn’t even realized his eyes were closed until Alexys nudged his side. He exhaled as he opened them, his stomach clenching in awe at what he saw.

Everything was… overwhelming. Different shades of colors he did not understand burst into the forefront of his vision. They were fireworks of light reflecting off of everything in the room at once. There were no words to describe the feeling of it other than ‘amazing’. Maybe ‘awe inspiring’.. His hands scrambled up to pull the glasses off for a moment, his breath tight as he sunk back into the familiarity of the duller world around him.

He waited for a few more moments, catching his breath as his body shook. This time, he knew, it was from excitement.

Michi slid the glasses on a second time. He was prepared for the shock now, and settled into it with relative ease as he took in the colors once more. The paints he had labeled ‘red’ on some of his canvases popped out the most to him, vibrant and almost annoying in their shade as they glared downwards at him. Small flecks of pinks and oranges danced in his vision from where other sculptures he had done perched. Michi craned his neck to see each of them, his jaw hanging slack as he registered each shade around him.

“I… These are all of them?”

He heard his own voice, tight with awe, and Alexys couldn’t help but laugh as she gave a nod of confirmation.

“Reds, blues, greens, oranges…Those are all of them.”

“Oh my god.”

Michi laughed to himself as he observed the world around him for a few more moments. His gaze settled down onto the canvas he had been looking at previously. Reaching out, he took it in his hand and stared down at it. His fingertips gripped at the material tightly as he let his eyes soak it in. There was a chill in the air as he watched the item with new eyes.

There was no real rhyme or reason to the image itself. It was a wave of color, all bent and spun in on itself like a whirlpool of expressionism. Shades of oranges were often joined by lines of viridian as they curled around the edge of the canvas. Pinks kissed the lips of red shadows in the center, their limbs entwined like lovers in the fog of purple that surrounded the middle of the piece. It was like they were body parts of different colors, all bending and contorting alongside each other in a way that wouldn’t seem humanly possible to others. Yet it worked somehow. Yet, in the end, it was still art.

This was his art. The art he had always grown up around and showed to himself countless times. These were the pieces that others would compliment him on with those smiles of theirs and he could never understand why. He had stared at these pieces that he had created with his own hands every single day of his life. He had run his fingers over the edges of the paint countless times before now. Yet there was excitement now, as he brushed his thumb along a line of maroon splattered along the inner edges of the canvas.

There was a new feeling in his chest now. Something gut clenching but exciting all at once. A feeling of overwhelming pride settled in the base of his heart. Every beat gave off that sense of accomplishment, and the smile that spread across his lips as he looked at pieces was genuine as he realized the gravity of it all. They were not terrible. Not as terrible as he had thought they might be.
Through a New Lens

by

K.M.Kinley

“I can’t believe I made these.” His voice was a low whisper.

“You’re an amazing artist,” Alexys chimed proudly, “Of course you did.”

He laughed dryly at her, but the smile never left his lips as he looked up. Sliding the glasses up, he let them rest on his head as he took in the woman with a newfound adoration. There was a color of determination flushed in his cheeks as he put the canvas down on his work space, brushing over it one last time with the tips of his fingers, before reaching to give Alexys a hug. She returned it, wrapping her arms around his waist and bringing him close as she sighed.

Michi watched the walls of his art, suddenly aware of all that he had created. Of all that he had done.

Yeah, he thought with a grin, perhaps his art wasn’t too bad.