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Two-and-a-half-minute Fiction Prahject

Two-and-a-half-minute Fiction ‘Prahject’: Take 11

I’ll be brief. This week’s edition was inspired by a wall painted navy I saw in a design magazine that had brick-a-brack items nailed to it. I thought it was so interesting to paint the sole wall of a studio apartment navy. It was more a color I would chose for clothing, and not for a paint, but I couldn’t stop looking at it. I couldn’t get that setting out of my mind, so it became the setting for this week’s edition. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s called “Studio Therapy.”

Imagine something like this color:

“Studio Therapy”

We’re sitting at the kitchen table in the studio. It’s a sterling grey awful day and the sun is so bright it hurts to look out the window. I’m sitting cross-legged with Turtle, my 4-year-old lab-something-something mix, sitting at my feet, head resting on his own crossed paws. I look down at him and think how good he’s got it.

He is sitting across from me at the table, his boxy black glasses perched on the tip of his nose, straining over a piece of paper. If he took in one inhalation a little too deeply, they’d fall off. His hair is a mess, and he’s only wearing a T-shirt and jeans, even though the studio is frigid. So much for central heating.

He puts the paper down on the table and sits back, resting the back of his head in the cradle of his hands, against the back of his chair.

“I thought you wanted my help,” he says.

“I do,” I say.

“You didn’t make any of the edits I proposed.” He leans on the table, hunched over, staring me down.

“Some of them I did.” I stir my cup of black coffee. “But I said I just wanted your thoughts on it.”

“What’s the point of asking someone’s opinion if you’re not going to change it?”

“I am still editing it.”

“You’re wasting my time.”

He’s frustrated with me, and maybe rightfully so. I did ask for his thoughts and any edits. But I gave him the cover letter to read three days ago and I told him I wanted to mail it today. I can’t make edits in haste and then throw a stamp on it and pray it works out for the best. I need to mull over my edits. Make the changes and then sleep on it. Wake up the next morning with a clear head and find that Oxford comma absurd and delete it all over again. Edits take time. He thinks I’m being absurd. He says writing is like his paintings, you create what you feel when you feel it and the rest doesn’t and shouldn’t matter. We’re a real regular “Tortoise and the Hare.”

He pushes the paper over to me from across the table like a contract to sign. He pops a few blueberries in his mouth and reaches for the newspaper and starts to read. Fresh blueberries in the dead of winter. He says he needs real fresh things in the studio if he’s going to create real fresh art. And that includes fruit.

I can see his berry-stained finger prints on the news print. His navy v-neck blends into the blue painted divider wall between the bedroom and the kitchen. I hung some knick-knacks to it so it wouldn’t be this big navy wall staring at me when I eat at the table. I spent last weekend rummaging and found the wiring of an old parasol a set of gaudy looking gold frames and one of those clocks with a fork and a spoon as a big and little hand to hang on it. They were an odd family of decorations. He liked everything but the clock. He said cool colors are best for the kitchen because it makes you want to cook warm things.

I look down at the paper and see his red chicken scratch. Loops here, triple underlined letters there, whole sentences crossed out here. I can’t make dramatic changes like this the morning of.

“I might have made some of your edits if you had looked over it when I actually gave it to you three days ago,” I say.

“You wouldn’t have changed anything anyway,” he says, not looking up from the paper.

“I would have, if I had had more time to think about them.”

“You always need more time.”

“With what?”

“Everything,” he says. “Just about everything you do takes three days.” He was as calm as he ever was. He ate some more blueberries.

“What does that have to do with my cover letter?”

He didn’t answer but continued to read the paper. He propped his feet up on the neighboring kitchen chair and wriggled his toes in the air. He hated to wear socks. I could feel my face redden. My dark orange turtleneck felt like a collar around my neck. My crimson nails formed tight silent fists that sat on the table and turned my knuckles white.

“Just because I don’t walk into a grocery store and see $5 a pint blueberries and buy them, ‘just because I felt like it,’ doesn’t mean I take three days to make decisions.”

“Is this about the blueberries?”

“No, this isn’t about the blueberries!”

“I think this is about the blueberries.”

“Well, it’s not.” I say curtly. I swipe my coffee cup from the table as I stand up and dump out the remains in the sink. I grab the cover letter and sit on the sofa where my laptop is. I stare from the edited letter to the letter document open on my laptop and back at the paper. I can’t possibly make these changes. Not after he said that. Not when I’m going to mail it this morning. I shut the laptop and put a copy of my cover letter into a manilla envelope with my resume and lick it shut. The address is already attached neatly with a sticker label. I put a few stamps on the top right corner and rest it on the stand by the door to mail later. I walk back over to the kitchen table and sit. Turtle licks my fingers where the stamp adhesive was.

“I think I’m going to paint the kitchen that peony red swatch color I showed you last week,” he says.

“The navy is kind of growing on me,” I say. “The gold frames look kind of nautical with that color.”

“I don’t know,” he says turning around to look at the divider wall. He cocks his head to the left. “It does look better than I thought it would. And the red might make the frames look chincy.”

So he did like my frames. They weren’t just a cheap purchase to fill up that massive navy space in his mind. They were an executed purchase with design intent. And he did like them after all. They would stay.

“Yes, I think I like this wall the way it is,” he says.

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