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 Empty Canvas - Short Story

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WRITER (51-100 posts)
WRITER (51-100 posts)

Posts : 78
Join date : 2012-12-10

PostSubject: Empty Canvas - Short Story   Fri Apr 11, 2014 7:19 pm

I decided to share this one, because I can't decide if it's good or not and I want to quit fighting with myself. I wrote this at 2 AM when I was upset (and I tend to write dark when I'm upset.) I think I had some sort of allegory or deeper meaning in mind when I wrote it, but it was at 2 AM. :P (And I am growing painfully aware that setting a 700 word story in an alternate universe where everything is the same as real life except for one aspect is probably NOT a good idea.) Please be blunt and tell me if it works or not.

I clutch my canvas close to my chest as I follow my parents through the store. I trail behind them, just in sight.

My father has his canvas tucked under his arm, nearly oblivious of it. It's turned toward him now, but I can see the streaks of deep blue on the edges of it.

Mother has her canvas stuffed in her purse -- the one that looks like a suitcase. A hint of the delicate pink on her canvas peeks out of the atrocious black leather thing calling itself a purse ... handbag ... suitcase ... whatever.

I tighten my grip on my canvas. The wooden frame underneath the fabric digs into my arms, a reminder of my cowardice. Only personality-less cowards hide their canvases.

Or so I've been told. Truth (what does that even mean, anyway?) of the matter is most people hide their canvases as best they can. Best they can being the key phrase. Try too hard to hide your canvas and it takes on a life of its own, showing everyone exactly what you are.

Or aren't, as the case may be.

I force myself to loosen my grip on my canvas. Cold fear of someone noticing the empty edges of my canvas nags at me, as always.

Experiment, everyone says. You get one canvas, have fun with it. It can always be made nearly new with enough time and white paint.

But I'm a coward. My luck, I'll never figure out what I want my canvas to be and it'll rot along with me - empty and unwanted. Some people's canvases last for decades, centuries even. The special canvases belonging to special people.

If my canvas doesn't stay blank, the only thing that will happen to it is it'll get smudged and smeared from being near others' canvases. It's impossible to have friends without getting some of their paint on your canvas.

No thanks. I'd rather keep my canvas a glorious shade of virgin white. Alone I've been, and alone I'll stay. I think I'm fine with that.

I'm probably the only human alive over twelve years old that hasn't even made a single mark on my canvas. I know it's been the subject of many worried late night discussions between my parents.

"Does she even have a soul?"

I snort at the memory of that eavesdropped line. Of course. Just because I have an identity issue and a horrible case of indecisiveness doesn't mean I don't have a soul. I'll figure it out someday. Probably.

Pain ripples through my chest. I drop my canvas. Is it playing tricks --

My heart flutters. My pulse pounds in my ears; surging, falling in irregular beats. My lungs constrict. I try to gasp in a breath, but I get nothing.

My vision tilts sharply and goes down. My head thuds against the tile, scattering my blurred vision with stars.

I try again to breathe. I manage a short gasp, but the air scrapes down my throat and sends me into a coughing fit. I convulse with the effort and something wet and warm trickles down my face.

The coughing subsides, and I struggle for thin breath. My vision clears for a moment, my eyes focusing on a square of white in front of me.

My canvas.

It's not umarred white any more. Now it's splattered with red I know is mine.

The sick irony clenches my heart. It rattles against my lungs, forcing the air out of me. Pain rips through and my lungs demand air.

Black edges in on my vision, waiting to take over. The pain gets worse, the darkness strengthening with it.

All I can see is black. Black and red.

My life doesn't flash before my eyes; only a realization. Once this blackness takes over, all that's going to be left is red. The only thing left to prove I even existed will be my cowardly blood, splattered on my canvas as I died. Because I was too scared to do anything with it.

My heart screams agony at a level deeper than physical.

Black wins.

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APPRENTICE (6-25 posts)
APPRENTICE (6-25 posts)

Posts : 11
Join date : 2014-05-26

PostSubject: Empty Canvas critique   Tue May 27, 2014 8:48 am

Hi Rael, 
First, let me say that I enjoyed your story, to be so short, it gets pretty deep and I enjoyed the message!

I do have a few suggestions that might enhance it a little

#1 the word canvas is used several times too many? Sometimes you could use 'mine' when it's just been mentioned and we'll KNOW mine means 'my canvas'

#2 In any first person, you WILL HAVE lots of 'I's, but you can replace some and IMHO should replace as many as possible. Examples: but I can see the streaks of deep blue on the edges of it.
 Since we're firmly in your POV, we don't NEED the "I can see'. If you report only WHAT you see, we'll know YOU are seeing it, so 'but streaks of deep blue color its edges. (Got rid of an unecessary prepositional phrase there, too!
Or so I've been told. can be replaced with 'Or so they say' and you lose another 'I'.  I think I'm fine with that.  Well, I can't seem to lose the highlighting, but 'Fine by me' gets rid of two 'I's :) You get the idea :)

#3 is the sentence about your vision: My vision tilts sharply and goes down. My head thuds against the tile, scattering my blurred vision with stars. I THINK you mean that YOU go down, but what it says is that your VISION went down, indicating you glanced to the floor, then all of a sudden, your head in bumping the floor. I had to go back and reread it and IMHO, that is a bad sign - it isn't clear, go forth and clarify :)

Thank you for sharing your story! Hope you find some of my comments helpful. Blessings from Texas, Caryl (I tried to send this last night but it was late and it went away. Can you let me know if you get it? I'm new here at CCW :)
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WRITER (51-100 posts)
WRITER (51-100 posts)

Posts : 78
Join date : 2012-12-10

PostSubject: Re: Empty Canvas - Short Story   Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:58 pm

I got your reply. Thank you! This was an emotion-fueled 2 AM effort, so that's probably why those errors slipped past me. ;) I'm thinking this is asking to be a longer short story or maybe even a novella or novel. I'm leaving it be for now, but I doubt it'll let me forget about it. :)
My respect for people who write whole novels in first person is growing more and more. It's so much harder than third! 
Thanks again!


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