Short Story: Wallpaper

by Richard R. Barron

“This wall is so plain,” she muttered to herself, staring at the blank, grey facade. “What can I do, what can I do?” she continued, trailing off to a whisper by the last word.

She felt a strange, urgent, crushing tension inside her, a need, an overwhelming desire. As quickly as it came to her, she bolted across the room and dived beneath her bed, emerging a few seconds later with a plastic mop bucket. In it were art supplies; paint brushes, sponges, plastic sculpting tools, and to her disappointment, only water colors and some modeling clay. “It’ll do, it’ll do,” she muttered again.

She went to the sink and prepared the paints. She rushed over to the wall again and froze in front of it. A moment of absolute silence passed. Suddenly she burst into action. Her brush was a blur of color as angry as a hornet buzzing around an intruder. She had made this kind of makeshift wallpaper in her last place, but this time there was a kind of insane, explosive urgency to her motions.

At the top, streaks of red and white. Towards the bottom, deeper greens and browns. It all make perfect sense in her head. “Yes!” she barked to the empty room as her brush found a perfect combination of blue and grey.

Soon the whole wall was covered by watercolors, an ocean of hue and inspiration. She stood back for another moment, wringing her hands, pushing the sleeves of her blue denim shirt further up her arms, staining them with paint. “More,” she decided out loud.

She tumbled over to the sink and searched. After scattering almost everything there into clutter on the floor, she found a felt-tip pen. “Okay!” she declared excitedly, and hurried back over to the wall.

She stood up close to her sea of imagery, and pressed the pen onto the nearly-dry watercolors. “When you were a child,” she wrote in meticulous little letters, “unhappiness took the place of dreams.”

“Mmm, yes, I know!” she declared to herself. She flipped her bucket upside down, dumping the remaining contents all around her, and stood on top of it. In larger letters at the very top of the wall she titled her piece “The Landmind.”

She simply let the pen fall from her hand, and heard it clatter to the floor. She absently backed off the bucket, then backed up across the room. She looked up and down at what she had created. Her mouth trembled; her eyes started to fill with tears. “It’s perfect…” she whispered. “Perfect.”

“Hey Picasso!” the huge male voice boomed abruptly, “the warden wants to see you.”

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