Redemption Pt. 1
This short story, called “Redemption,” was published in The Dazed Starling in 2015 and incorporates magical realism. All words and ideas are copyrighted by KaylaAnn. I will be sharing it in four consecutive parts. This story may include material not suitable for younger audiences or those easily triggered due to violent, sexual, scary, supernatural or mature content. This is Part One.
“Strap her to the table.”
The blank canvas stares.
Why is it looking at me? It is waiting. Waiting to become something worth looking at. Who am I to decide what it ought to look like? Who am I to give it life? I do not even know what my life looks like.
Still, I pick up the brush and dip it in the water creating ripples in the paint-splattered plastic cup. Lumpy globs of paint rest idly on a sheet of tinfoil as if mocking me. They know they will not go to work any time soon. The Craftmasters, the name I give to describe the teachers in charge of Art class, are careful with the supplies that they provide us with. Nothing too heavy and nothing too sharp. They walk back and forth among the painters and me. They are here to help and provide encouragement, supposedly. Yet I feel their eyes watching us, always watching me. We do nothing worth watching. As if we would run anywhere in our worn down house slippers. Even if I were to run, where would I go? I was already running and this is where I landed.
I remember my very first day here with absolute clarity even though I was half asleep, standing on wobbling feet, supported on each side by women in white coats. My mother stood only a few feet behind me, but she was crying. It’s for your own good, she said. They can fix you, she said. I’ll come visit you, she promised. But I didn’t want to see her. I hid beneath my bed every time she came. I didn’t want her to see me, not like this. I had brought this upon myself, I accepted that. I couldn’t weigh her down with my burdens, with my mistakes. I had always been trouble, long before that night that changed everything.
The air vent kicks on in full force, and I shiver in the thin dressing gown and fluffy robe. I clutch the robe to my chin, wishing for something to tie it shut with, but that wouldn’t do. What if I decided to hang myself with the sash? I look at the girl beside me and try to feel grateful. At least my clothes fit my standard frame. The girl next to me is a tiny specimen of a creature with a dress that droops over her shoulder and covers her feet, dragging on the ground. I gawk at her canvas. It is filled with beautiful sunflower bushes and translucent creatures that flutter from petal to petal. Yet even as she paints in the wings, her face scrunches together and her eyes narrow. The end of her brush scratches across the canvas, tearing the thick paper. Murdered butterflies plummet to the floor. The Craftmasters seemingly appear out of thin air, grabbing the girl’s flailing arms. They quiet her down and replace her damaged canvas with a blank one. Almost immediately she begins to paint a bright yellow petal, as if she had never stopped.
The Craftmaster with the dark skin and light eyes turns toward me with a smile. Her large white wings flutter behind her, knocking over an empty canvas. No one else flinches at the sound. I wonder if they do not hear it. This happens to me a lot. I see things that others do not. Ever since the beginning of my treatment I have noticed these abnormal, physical aspects of my art teachers. The first Craftmaster, the one I refer to in my mind as the Light One has wings. I mean, honest to God, look at those wings. Day by day they change shape and color. Today she has feathers like an eagle. Yesterday, they were translucent like a fairies’. The doctors say hallucinations are natural, but I’ve had hallucinations before, and these seem so much more real.
The second Craftmaster, having subdued my partner turns to look in my direction. Her eyes, pitch black, do not settle on anyone, rather they skim over us, hungrily taking us in. I tremble. That particular Craftmaster gives me the chills. Naturally to me, she is the Dark One. Once I had even seen what looked like a tail slither out of her white lab coat. The Guards did not believe me, of course. Ever since my accusations, the black-eyed Dark One seems to watch me carefully. The two continue their walk around the room.
I catch a scent of something strong and harsh. My nose twitches in discomfort as my eyes water. For a moment, I think it is him, his cologne that once clogged the words in my throat, but it is not possible. There are only female workers here and only female patients, all us of underage. I am among the oldest, nearly seventeen.
I looked back at the canvas. It is still blank and glaring at me now. Practically yelling at me.
“Shut up,” I hiss.
“The best way to create is to simply start.” The white-winged Craftmaster, the Light One, hovers about my right shoulder, motioning toward the paints with her hand.
I look up at her. My tongue is thick in my mouth, it is too heavy and I cannot lift it. Her green eyes are so kind and compassionate, I know she honestly cares. For a moment I consider lifting the brush and dragging it across the canvas, just to please her. I look at the brush; it is already in my brown hand, although I do not remember picking it up. Before I can paint however, the Light One is gone. I feel a keen knife of disappointment stab through my chest. I have disappointed her, I know it.
“We’re wasting these materials on you.” The Dark One clutches my left shoulder with her nails. I try to jerk away, but her grip is strong. “You’ll never make anything worthwhile anyway.”
She grins a false yellow-toothed smile and to a passer-byes’ eyes, perhaps she looks helpful. I know better. I am filled with hatred for this place, for the one who landed me here, for the paint brush, for the greedy canvas, and especially for this particular Craftmaster. Before I know what I am doing, my canvas is on the ground, with red paint dripping down the white backdrop and my brush is clattering across the floor. I hear cursing, and recognize my own voice. My hands are being pulled to my sides and a jacket forces itself around my body. It’s suffocating me.
Art class is over.
They drag me down the hall toward a room I am all too familiar with.
Wanna know what happens next? Be sure to stop by my blog tomorrow around 9amPST for part 2!
I hit 100 blog posts today!