Original article posted by arylaina:

Kate opened the back door of the car and wrestled with the large stack of paintings, trying not to drop any. She finally managed to get them in the house, with offers of help coming only after she was already inside.

Once in her bedroom, she began setting paintings against the wall, on top of the desk, across the bed. Any available surface was soon covered with canvases. And many reflected the same thing. Dark, desolate landscapes with lonely trees blowing in an unseen wind; solitary figures seen from a distance; swirls of dirty, grayed colors. Some were just cityscapes, the world as she saw it, but they had a dark undertone, as well.

It’s like I’ve got permanent sunglasses, Kate thought. Nothing looks bright and happy any more, even the cityscapes. Is this really how I see the world? How I see myself?

She lay on the floor, studying the flight of a fly around the ceiling fan, and knew the answer was yes. The sun set through the windows as she lay there, not seeing, not thinking. The room grew totally dark, and the paintings became nothing more than vague shadows stacked against the wall. Kate fell asleep, and dreamed of nothing.

She woke around four in the morning, rumpled and groggy, with hunger pains tearing at her gut. She left the paintings where they were, ignored her stomach, grabbed a jacket, and walked to the studio. It was still open, and she thanked the person who’d forgotten to lock up. She didn’t want to alert any security personnel, and only turned on one work light above an easel in the back. She located a canvas she’d stretched earlier in the day, one intended for class work, positioned a mirror, and sketched a rough outline of herself in a classic portrait pose.

By morning, she had a good start on the portrait, minus some of the highlights and finer details. The edges were poorly defined, but she planned on just blurring them into the background. She tucked the painting into her cubby, cleaned the brushes, and left the studio the way she had found it.

When she returned home, she fell asleep on her bed after shoving aside a few paintings, missing three classes and a test.

She was awakened late afternoon by an insistent pounding on her door.


The door opened and Mindy walked in.

“Did I say you could come in?”

Mindy apologized, but didn’t leave. Kate was too tired to snarl.

“What happened in here? Studio explode?” Mindy knelt down to examine some paintings near the door.

“What do you want?”

She pointed to one of the landscapes, a city street that dissolved into a whirlpool in one corner. “These are . . . interesting. Kind of different than what you normally do.”

“Artists experiment.” Kate paused. Mindy continued to look around the room. “Can I help you?”

“Oh, yeah. We need to get stuff for dinner.”

“Amy has a car.”

“She left her keys in the computer lab, and the lost and found office is already closed.”

“Fine.” Kate made no effort to rise.

Mindy stayed by the door, waiting. “Kate?”

“I’ll be out in a minute. Close the door behind you.”

Kate stood up, looked at the closet mirror for awhile, and grabbed her
sunglasses. She didn’t want people to see how empty her eyes looked.