She sat in the straight-backed chair, curled around her busywork like a cat rabbit-kicking a toy. A steady skrit-skrit-skrit came from beneath her fingernails as they picked at the dried acrylic paint in the dozen paintwells of her palette. Every now and then she pulled her hand away with a ragged string of paint, a gleam of success in her eyes and a slight smile on her naked face. She knew the palette would come clean with little effort if she were to wash it with clean water while the paint was still wet, but that didn’t offer the same sense of fulfillment that picking did.
A couple weeks ago I texted my bestie’s daughter about an art collab. I said hey, let’s paint something. She asked what, I said your choice, and she picked galaxies.
So we painted galaxies.
The lawn was weedy and overgrown and the house was listless and peeling, but something about the property spoke to Ruben. He called the realtor as soon as he got back into his car.
“I’ll take it.”
The realtor was thrilled; she’d expected it to sit unsold for at least another year or two. The sale went smoothly, and it wasn’t too long before she put the keys in Ruben’s hand.
He smiled to himself. This was going to be the project of a lifetime.
Eight months later, Ruben was still at it. He hefted the axe for the final chop, and stepped back to watch the tree tumble down. This one made way for the hot tub he had planned. He tossed the axe to the side of the tree and trotted back to his lawn chair for a long pull on his beer.
Next week he hoped to watch the sunset for his new porch.
It was all coming together nicely. Except the paint. The rust that he thought would contrast so nicely against the acres of trees had dried to a bloody mess. Ruben had no intentions of spending the rest of his life in a murder house, but he couldn’t put his finger on the right color.
Maybe he’d find it next month. He could live with the blood for a while.