I looked around when I woke up, seeing green and black. The canvas before me smelled of fresh acrylic. Sap Green and Mars Black. No, Ivory Black. A novice would have never seen the difference, but I was no novice. The colors were my life, coursing with my blood, pumping tirelessly through my veins, so much so that I could smell the difference. The paintbrush, gripped like death in my right hand, bled down the handle and onto my forearm in rivulets of green over crusted ribbons of black. My arm trembled slightly as it always does after a frenzy. I thought I had them under control. It was hard, so hard, but I was good for a long time. To judge by the canvas, though, it was an episode long overdue. And only I could tell that it compensated for all those that were suppressed.
The attacks were never a stroke of sudden artistic genius. No, in fact I was terrified, because it meant she was coming back. Back from the darkness, from a place I thought she’d stay for good this time. There was no doubt that the painting would be a hit; the others created under the same attacks were the ones that sold. They were hailed as brilliant and inspired. No one ever knew the stories behind them.
Green and black, the strokes at the same time careful and maniacal, painted a story that at the moment escaped my memory. Large circular swipes, smaller detailed geometric features, strategically placed trickles that all ran together. I stared, puzzled and frustrated at the inability to decipher my own work. And scared, oh so scared, that she would surface at any trigger. Now, since the frenzied painting had occurred, it was only a matter of time before she arrived and took over completely, destroying something else precious to me.
A loud ring pierced the contemplative silence and I dropped the paintbrush to the spattered concrete floor. It clicked on contact then rolled to a stop with at least seven others, equally as messy. Green and black. The ring came again, and at notice of my phone on the small wooden table across the room, I walked to it and stared at the blinking indicator light, flashing among the strangled tubes that once contained the paint now on the canvas, walls, and floor. The table vibrated, and the name flashed on the screen. Brent.
My arms could not contain themselves. I picked the phone up, sliming it with a coat of sticky Sap Green, and hurled it to the other side of the room where it shattered into a thousand pieces. Maybe a million. I could already feel my eyes fogging over and told myself to stop. I told her to stop. But she wouldn’t listen.
“He has to pay. She has to pay,” she said. Her words came from my mouth and no part of me could stop them.
“No, I can’t.” My voice.
“We’ll go slow. Let’s finish our work.”
Like a robot being manipulated by someone else I walked back to the canvas hanging haphazardly on the wall. Cool tears streamed down and tickled my cheeks. I knew what was next.
“We need some red in here,” she said to me.
Obediently I nodded, the tears now falling into the dabs of drying paint at my feet. I pulled at my hair in one dying effort at making her stop, but it was useless. She had won. Again. I reached down, not for the brush, but for my keys. His key still dangled among the others.
“Yes, we need a little red. Blood red, I think,” a voice said. Hers, I think.
“This will be the best yet.”
We walked out together, a team once again. He would pay. She would pay. And some lucky bidder would win the green and black painting, the one with brilliant and inspired strokes of Blood Red gracing the canvas on their fancy living room wall.
To learn more about Nicki Redes, please visit Meet the Writers.