***Fictional Short Story***
“It’s a mad, mad world out there,” he said.
Almost as mad as you, I thought. He took a pull on his cigarette, fingers covered in red and black paint from earlier.
He played the starving artist character well. His latest work was a dark piece, a nude, but not in the classic sense. It was veiled in shadows, shifting in blackness. You could see the curve of an arm with red like blood dripping down it. He called it “Dark”, how original.
Sometimes she wondered what she was doing with him. Working three jobs to make sure he could concentrate on his “art”. They were always struggling but he insisted he was going to make it. Once the right person saw his talent.
He was talented, she’d give him that. He could paint almost anything he saw. But still, his art lacked something…something raw. Art was supposed to make you feel something. When she looked at his work and she didn’t feel shit. That couldn’t be a good sign right?
During the day she cleaned houses for rich people, at night she waited tables at this terrible dinner on 22nd street where no one ever tipped, and she took on tutoring for the community college students whenever she could.
Anything else that came up was fair game too. Temp jobs, dog walking, laundry service, taxi driver- she’d done it all. What had he done? He attempted to work at a golf course once, but he was fired the second day. He threw water on a customer. He said the guy had it coming. A rich, socialist asshole. Who did he expect would go to a fancy-ass country club, honestly?
She counts out her measly tips from the diner, only $26.00. Less than last weekend. She sighs heavily and walks into the kitchen barefoot to make some hot tea. Green, unsweetened. Her favorite. She likes the bitterness and strong earthy taste of it. She pours the water over the teabag and watches the steam rising from her mug. It’s one that she’s had for a long time, lilac-colored, like her favorite flowers, with an abstract pattern of geometric yellow squares on it. Her father gave it to her for her 23rd birthday. That was before…well, before everything.
“Hey Em, will you get me some fresh water for my brushes whirl you’re in there?” John’s voice breaks her out of her memories. She fills up a red solo cup and brings it to him in his “studio”. Otherwise known as their extra bedroom. It’s a shame really, it has the best light in the whole house. It’s blinding and warm in the morning, and a cloud of golden dust in the evening. She often thought it would make a perfect library type room with a big chair and a rug and a cat. John hates cats though. How did she end up with someone who hates cats?
“Emily, the water?”, she realizes she’s just been standing there lost in her thoughts again. “What is with you today?”, John asks. “I need to get ready for work.
Today’s work is good. She’s dog walking. She’s taking the four dogs to State Beach Park and she could not be happier to get some salty air and sand on her feet. She pulls on some denim shorts and a white v neck tee and grabs a baseball cap off the back of the door, “beach please” is written across it. Lame, she knows but she just wants her hair off her face. She pulls it into the hat and she’s out the door with a quick goodbye.
The beach is foggy in the early morning and there aren’t many people in the cold. She wishes she’d brought a jacket but she’s still happiest when she’s by the ocean so she’s not too bothered. She releases Charlie, the Shepard mix she’s walked the longest, to run into the sea. He loves swimming and his family doesn’t mind. He’s the best listener so she can trust him to run free. He chases some seagulls and they fly in circles around his head. She runs into the receding tide with the other three dogs laughing and feeling free of all her problems and as she turns around smacks right into a very attractive man.
The water is freezing and she’s basically soaked sitting in the wet sand sputtering as a wave hits her in the face. A strong hand reaches out to help her stand and then she remembers that the hand belongs to the man that knocked her down. “What the hell!” She shouts, as she looks up and meets his eyes. Then she kind of just goes blank.
His eyes are yellow-green and absolutely beautiful. Then she realizes that he’s basically beautiful in general. He’s a runner, that’s why they ran into each other. He has headphones wrapped around his shoulders, he’s glistening with sweat and wow, muscles. He is the cliche’ Adonis. “I’m so sorry! I had my music up and I closed my eyes for a second and then bam!” He tells her. She tries to speak but it just comes out as a guttural sound. Kind of like a banshee. She is so awkward she could just die right there on the spot. Finally, she collects herself enough to extend her hand and say something a human would say, “Hi, I’m Emily”.