The Artist

I watch it flap, bonelessly on the floor. One wing is at a strange angle, and its eyes are crusted shut. If it had a mouth, I think it would be screaming, but its beak is just a blank cone, unable to open.It can’t move on its own, let alone fly. It lies there, in pain, shivering occasionally. Another failed experiment.

On the floor around me are the other ones – slimy, scale-less fish; a dog that breathes heavily through a deformed muzzle; a moose with antlers made of the same jelly-like black flesh as its featureless eyes. Every one an abomination, every one a crippled reminder of my failure.

The walls around me are covered in frozen shapes, the creatures too poorly drawn to even pull themselves into reality. A duck with only one foot existing in three dimensions, a unicorn with incomplete lines and a spreading pool of flat blood.

A hundred failures. A hundred examples of my inadequacy, my inability to make this ability into a blessing, rather than a curse. Everything I draw becomes real, but only exactly what I draw. If I forget details, draw a line that’s slightly askew, then what emerges is a broken thing, a twisted mockery of the life I tried to create.

This has to end. I’m not good enough; I can’t do anything but cause pain, create more crippled creatures who live in agony and die quickly. I need to end it.

I draw one final time, my hand sketching the lines of a guillotine. I put in everything I have – the shading to make it 3D, the completed lines that let it break free of the wall. Non-living things are easier. There’s less that can go wrong. Textures and angles don’t matter as much – a lopsided plastic table is still a table, while a three-legged skinless rabbit is an abomination.

As I make the final stroke, the guillotine starts to form fully. It’s not perfect – the legs are wonky and the wood looks like balsa, not the oak I intended. Still, it will do. As the last corner firms into existence, I thrust my cursed hands underneath the hanging blade.

The edge is blunt.

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