I’m Setting the Dog on Fire

I love talking to inanimate objects, she whispered to herself, painting thin brown lines between the green, adding on the layers to soften and widen the strokes. Stroke, stroke, stroke.

She looked up, auburn hair falling into her eyes, and she jumped as the strands tingled across her face. The tree was a masterpiece, a moment of perfection growing out of the paper that seemed to come alive at the touch of her brush, a flick of her wrist, a dabbing of red and yellow. The model stood to the right of her canvas and if she looked at just the right angle, between what could be and what really was, she could blur the lines of reality and believe the tree stood posing for her in it’s autumnal wisdom and glory. But she looked too far and too slowly and the tree only stood in the dead hay grass, it’s leaves long gone, having missed too many springs and summers for it to be called alive anymore.

The brush, tipped with gold, hesitated above the page before lifting and falling with a resounding clatter onto the table next to her wooden pallet smeared in life. She couldn’t work. The illusion was gone and would stay forever dead in her mind for the rest of the day, possibly the rest of the week.

I can’t work like this. She grabbed her coat, swung open the door and marched out into the cold bitter air that sat heavy and haunting outside. The door slammed behind her, and those unfortunate enough to work nearest the door quickly grabbed onto their own canvases to protect them from the miniature whirlwind.

There was no sun, no rain, not even a brush of air against her cheek. The day reflected the tree’s portrait: dead, dismal, and disappointing. It’s untimely end brought nothing but misery and problems for her. So many years she waited for this day when she could finally bring to life the creature that had nurtured her in her childhood, but now it stood gaunt and yielding to the elements. How could she give meaning to the tree when the tree itself had given up meaning in its life? The canvas could not do justice. No mistakes blemished its surface but no life did either. Try how she might, the painting only reflected the truth.


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