Inspiration

“See? It just doesn’t work! No matter what I try, it’s a failure.” The young designer pushed his glasses higher on his nose, and sat back on his chair. On the table in front of him lay a model of the Sistine Chapel.

“I don’t really see the problem, Harvey.” Across the table from him was a much larger man squeezed into a identically sized chair. He picked up the model and held it in his pudgy hands, examining it from multiple angles. “I mean, look at it. It’s fantastic. A perfect model.” Continue reading “Inspiration”

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. Continue reading “The Artist”

Paint

“You paint the wall. Three coats, no more no less.” He holds up three stubby fingers in front of me, to emphasise the point. “Always the same colour – ‘Business Blue’, number 20211 in the warehouse. Never any other colour. It’s special paint – never dries properly, so the kids can’t do their graffiti on it.”

I nod. It’s not hard to understand.

“Three coats on this wall, then you move the rig round to the next one, and do the same thing. No changes. No exceptions. Every building in the plaza, the same. It’s a, you know, corporate style.”

I nod again, seriously, showing him that I’m ready to do the job. Mostly, I want him to stop talking, to stop droning on nasally.

“I don’t want any funny stuff, right? No patterns or colours or deviations from the plan. Stick to the plan. We don’t need your fancy art school nonsense here. This is a serious place. Serious people.” Continue reading “Paint”

Today and Every Day

Every day the same.

The same routine. His mother leaning over him as he wakes up in the racing car bed. The same two slices of toast, crusts cut off, and covered in strawberry jam. Today, and every day he still remembers, the jam pot is emptied, and he gets to sit there in his chair a little longer, scooping up the last traces from inside the jar and tasting the sweetness. His mother sits at the table opposite him, swirling the ice in her glass, and they talk about what he’ll do at school. She laughs at how decided he is. Continue reading “Today and Every Day”

Bargaining

The boy stomped carefully through the dirty water. In places, it came nearly as high as the tops of his wellington boots. The torch in his hand shone a pale and steady beam, throwing a spot of light onto dank, curving walls and a low ceiling. His other arm was held close to his chest, shielding a small dark shape from the cold and damp. It did not move.

He was tired. Tired and cold and hungry. It felt as though it had been hours since he had climbed down the rusty ladder to the underworld. But he pressed on – he had no other choice. Continue reading “Bargaining”

Pledge of Allegiance

It was surprisingly easy.

You would think it would be difficult to reverse more than two hundred years of history, to recover a lost possession of such magnitude. You might think it would take armies, a second war. All it took was cloth and careful planning. Continue reading “Pledge of Allegiance”

A Good Neighbourhood

Everyone knows Mr. Jacobs.

He’s lived in the neighbourhood for fifteen years, and he’s never smiled – not once. He’s never brought cupcakes to welcome new neighbours, or shovelled snow off some else’s drive. Continue reading “A Good Neighbourhood”