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By Kateri David
Closing hour: brass teeth gnash within their locks.
Darkness has transformed the night-watchman’s son, mellowing his skin to a wan frenzy. The grains, his tiny body seeming to meld with the black of the museum passageway he is crossing. Half-running with his hands stuffed in his pockets, the boy enters the next room, portraits of regal looking figures lining every wall. He vaguely remembered, though he tried to choke the thought, that the dates on these paintings were centuries old, and their subjects were often real. Whipping his head left and right, his eyes flit over the faces in the frames, just to be sure none of them get any notion of moving into their two-dimensional heads. Ghosts could be real.
The boy comes to a halt in the center of the room, eyes wide and spark-like sensations darting through his limbs. Here in the numb-twilight, the hush has more depths to it than he should like to know, yet the boy lingers, gripped by the thickness in the air and the feeling that he is taking part in something cherished. He stares, eyes wide, imploring, while the painted humans look back, bemused. A low hum, a parable, reverberates through the museum; the paintings seem to be straining for something, a lost possibility perhaps. The boy stands, ears ringing, watching the colors of the solid world turn viscous and static, vibrating until every nucleus seemed near escaping and revealing the wilderness of a blank canvas.
The story of everything timidly unfurls itself to the boy, every lacquered village burrowed into the marble of human eyes, every touch and breath and desire and every reality, like the mosaic pieces of a cubist face. A perfect and transparent feeling becomes him, the room is buzzing, the mundane peeled off, but he taints the moment with a thought of phantoms lurking in the shadows, and he is afraid once more. He dashes away from the room, through the halls, the dark thrumming, the paintings budding and vanishing on both his right and left. They stain his eyes for a moment, then become invisible, traveling somewhere else in him, as a kiss does when the lips leave your skin.
#Unreal #FlashFiction #TheArtKnowsUsBest #Wilderness OfBlankCanvas #AfraidOfGhosts?
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