Short story: The Masterpiece

October 19, 2022

Image by Jill Burrow from Pexels

Elle paints a vivid picture of a relationship coloured by anger

Summer. I feel you linger in the wind, flowers tinged with sweat. Those saturated days collect like bug bites on the skin, small bitter reminders of better times. You don’t mind the saturation, and I don’t mind when you cry into my lap. Bright blue sky and bright green grass meet in the middle and collapse into each other with salty greetings. The sky fades into the grass. It’s all green from here on out.

I’ve collected more colours since. They pile up in my pocket and spill out of my mouth; I vomit rainbow stories that are not mine to tell. I paint my vision with the colours I’ve collected. Today, I keep my sketches saturated, my paintbrush poised. I don’t dull, I don’t complain, I don’t change. I make sure to keep my left side empty, in case you feel like joining me for walks on solemn nights.

But this time there’s no white light in the street ahead, and we’re not 14 anymore. We can’t sit on swings and count the stars on our skin, we can’t wait for that moment when you ask me to stay and I leave, we can’t paint each other using the same paintbrush.

You must sit still, and I must behave normally. Sometimes I begin to put myself in your boots and walk through your quicksand. It’s no surprise when I start to sink into your spot, yet everyone acts like it is.

When I paint you I feel that anger bubble up. I don’t want to be angry, but I feel as though I’m obligated to be. It’s that understandable anger that courses through my veins. The explainable anger that I don’t get blamed for, the anger that makes me shatter my charcoal and crack my paints.

The monster under your bed has gone quiet, but you can’t help but hide under the covers

The tender anger that courses through my vein, its throbbing poison reminding me I’m still alive.

You’d know what I’m talking about, I know you’d understand it. It’s the anger you feel when you’re the last person at a birthday party that isn’t yours; the host has left, and so has your friend. She’s been picked up by her mum.

You’re not mad at the host, you’re not mad at your friend, you’re not mad at her mum. You might be mad at yourself: mad because you’re getting annoyed over something so silly, mad because you’re stuck here all alone, mad because you’ve got no one to blame so it must be your fault.

The monster under your bed has gone quiet, but you can’t help but hide under the covers. At the end of the day, you’re left alone, blowing out candles that aren’t yours.

I’m almost done with my painting of you. It won’t hang in a museum for others to admire. You weren’t a masterpiece, and neither is my painting. And yet I’ll carry it with me, for eternity, chained to my leg. I’ll jump into the sea with it. Hope its dead weight doesn’t pull me down. I’ve decided I’m not ready to drown yet.

In partnership with Write by You, a social enterprise supporting young female writers to develop their creativity, confidence and writing skills.

Elle is 13. She lives in London and likes to draw, play video games, read, listen to music loudly, eat too many fruit pastels and (obviously) write stories. She can’t think of anything she dislikes (except maybe writing bios)!

Other work

Donate via PayPal

Exposure is an award-winning youth communications charity giving young people in north London a voice.

Please support us to continue our work. Thank you.